Prayer, safety and support was provided to those in need, by church volunteers, at this year’s Leeds Festival.
Held at Bramham Park, Leeds Festival is one of the UK's major music festivals, this year attracting around 80, 000 people over the August Bank Holiday weekend to see headline artists such as Foo Fighters, Post Malone and Royal Blood.
One hundred and seventy volunteers, many from churches across our diocese, attended the four day event as Festival Angels.
Launched in 2011, the Festival Angels project has grown to become a valued part of the Leeds Festival organisation and this year included a prayer cafe, detached teams and a lost property service.
The prayer cafe provided a safe place at the festival site and included a mug deal with unlimited refills of tea and coffee throughout the weekend alongside areas for people to pray and discover more about the Christian faith.
The detached teams, based on the Street Angels model, wandered around the massive festival site interacting with the festival-goers offering help and assistance including help putting up tents, giving out sun tan lotion, and helping people navigate the site.
The Festival Angels also ran the lost property service at the festival, using social media platforms to help reunite people with their lost items such as passports, driving licenses, mobile phones, wallets/purses, car keys and bank cards.
“Festival Angels reaches out to the 16-30 age range, who are the least likely to attend church, and shows them that Christianity is just as relevant to them as to their parents and grandparents,” said Revd Andy Nicholson, coordinator of Festival Angels and vicar in Thorner, the nearest village to the festival site.
“As Christians from across the North of England we hope to show that Jesus Loves Festivals and through joining in the fun and life of the festival we aim to help break down some of the misconceptions people, especially young people, have of the church and Christian faith.
“It was a privilege to be able to serve some of the 80,000 people who become part of our neighbourhood for that weekend."
More information is about Festival Angels can be found on their website, with updates and pictures from the weekend also posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
A team of 170 volunteers were Festival Angels at Leeds Festival running Lost Property, a Prayer Cafe, detached teams and Chariot support for security staff. The Festival Angels were featured on BBC Look North news with a film crew in the cafe and joining a detached patrol on Thursday. Over the weekend, as temperatures soared, the teams were out ensuring festival goers were hydrated and applying sun tan lotion. Lost Property was busy with people handing in found items or coming to report missing items and the team will work for the next few weeks aiming to reunite as many items as possible with owners. The festival had two flypasts from the 'Jesus Calls Will U Follow' plane organised by FlyJesus with many favourable social media comments. The cafe sold 5500 special edition Festival Angel mugs which offered free tea, coffee (donated by Taylors of Harrogate), hot chocolate, water and juice refills. The Jesus Loves Festivals banner was great for a selfie with Jesus and many people took time to pray, colour in bible verses or sit and chat to our caring team.
Another first for Festival Angel's in Belfast last night (18th August), as we support the Ardoyne Festival with Buster Blood Vessel and Bad Manners as headlining act. Organisers were unaware of how we would be received, but many revellers came up to thank us and give us hugs for watching over them.
‘Kendal Calling’ Music Festival
Being a Festival Angel
Early in May an article in the Carlisle Diocese newsletter caught my eye asking for volunteers to help at Kendal Calling, the music festival near Lowther that attracts over 34000 visitors each year. Festival Angels, is a Christian group that provide support at Music Festivals across the country. The festivals are normally 3 days but I could only help for 1 day in late July. I’d never been to a festival!
I contacted Paul Blakey the founder of Festival Angels & Street Angels and completed the application forms; they then asked for references and I was then signed up. There was lots of information and procedures to read too.
Arriving at Kendal Calling at 830am on 29th July for my 12 hour rota I then met the other volunteers who were from all over the UK including Manchester and Leeds. There was a rota of over 15 people manning 4 stations across the site for 3 days acting as stewards mainly during the day and then at night supporting people who just needed to be in a safe place for a time or just to talk especially in all the rain as we did have 2 caravans!
It was good to talk to the other volunteers from across the country and find that people from many age groups and different backgrounds had been inspired to support Festival Angels as Christians who liked music and wanted to help other people.
We all had time off from our stewarding duties and were able to see different bands in venues across the site and have a good walk around the festival. It was great to work with people from other churches and just shows another way in which the church is reaching out to new people both young and old.
Now the next step is to find more volunteers from Cumbrian Churches for next year at Kendal Calling 2020!
Judith Mitchell - pictured below 4th from left!
Festival Angels had a stall at Creation Fest at the Royal Cornwall Showground. The aim was to promote the growing number of Festival Angels teams in Cornwall as well as the new Pirans Angels team in Newquay. The Boardmasters Festival Angels team were prayed for as part of the evening celebration on Tuesday. Several of the Festival Angels were able to get photos with some of the artists at Creation Fest including Wildwood Kin, Philippa Hanna, Josh Curnow and the CEO of Creation Fest Sarah Yardley.
On Tuesday night the team moved down to Boardmasters which was sadly cancelled at a few hours before the gates were to open due to 50mph winds forecast for the weekend. It was sad to see the main stage, big tops, marquees, catering vans, etc all begin to pack down and leave instead of 53,000 festival-goers streaming in to set up camp. Festival Angels joined the local Pirans Angels team on Wednesday to offer advice, travel guidance and support to those who had arrived in Newquay before the announcement was made. Most of the Festival Angels team had to leave on Thursday as the Boardmasters site was closing down leaving Pirans Angels to offer support and welfare on Thursday to Sunday nights as alternative Boardmasters parties were planned.
Festival Angels prays for those involved in running Boardmasters who had to make such a difficult decision and for the businesses on the site and in Newquay affected.
A Festival Angels team organised by Third Space Ministries was at Eastern Electrics in Morden. On Saturday they worked with Morden Baptist Church to welcome festival goers to Morden with free drinks, glitter face painting, DJs, prayer & a listening ear. On both days volunteers were at the festival site offering peace, love, support, safety, & encouragement to lots of festival goers through a safe place and detached teams.