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READING STREET PASTORS - Sally Leonard, co-ordinator:
“We have two tents in the Orange and Brown campsites, open right the way through to Monday morning. We’re basically a chill-out space with sofas, tables, chairs and the best hot chocolate on-site. We’re there to listen to people and be there as a friendly face. If people become overwhelmed then they can just come and chill out with us.
“We invite people to come any time. We’re there for everybody, even the staff. The thing about festivals is that there often isn’t anywhere to just sit down and be away from everything. It’s really good for young people to just be able to come and do that.
“We’ve been at Reading since 2012 and we always get an amazing reaction. The public and parents always say, ‘Thank goodness that you are there – we feel so much safer’. We’re a caring, listening and helping service. Not only are we in the tent, but we’re also patrolling the campsites from Thursday. We’re helping people to put up tents and signposting them to the right places, and it’s very much just about caring for everybody.
“It can be very overwhelming for people at festivals. Particularly since COVID, we’ve seen a lot of anxious young people. In 2021 we had one person who’d come on the Wednesday and had a panic attack so we had to call her parents to pick her up.
“It’s a fantastic festival and Festival Republic are really good at keeping young people safe. I’m part of the safeguarding group who meet every day to discuss what’s gone in the past 24 hours. People will make bad decisions and there be bad outcomes, but Festival Republic work hard to try and keep everyone safe. That’s why we’re all there.”
Visit here for more information on Reading Street Pastors.
FESTIVAL ANGELS – LEEDS - Paul Blakey – founder:
“We started at Leeds in 2011, when there was a 79-year-old lady who lived in the village next to Bramham Park who wanted to do something. She got 12 of her friends together, Melvin Benn agreed to have a marquee, it snowballed from there and now we have 205 volunteers.
“One of the most popular things we do is sell mugs for £7, that comes with unlimited tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Pot Noodles. We offer a place for young people who don’t need welfare or first aid, but just need that safe place at a festival.
“Also run a lost property tent, returning thousands of items to festival-goers each year. Fans can pre-register their phones, get a sticker, and if people lose their phones and it ends up in the lost property tent then we can reunite the phone and its owner much quicker.”
“We sell 5,000 mugs and stickers for phones, and we often tend to be the first place that people come to. Our cafe really quickly becomes a community, so people network between themselves and make friends there. Last year a girl traveled all the way from the coast of Scotland, catching five buses just to see Arctic Monkeys – she found her way into our cafe and now she’s a volunteer.”
“We also have detached teams just wondering around the site, keeping an eye on things, helping people put up their tents, carry their luggage, and working with welfare and medical on some of the more serious things that might happen.
“We’re there from people arriving to people leaving. When things go wrong, we’re one of the many groups of people there to pick up the pieces and help. We’re a friendly face and very visible, so people trust us.”
“We always have a good vibe, with music playing and places to sit if you need to escape Leeds’ legendary sunshine. We’ve got colouring in to illustrate inspirational quotes and bible verses. The amount of young people who sit there colouring in when there’s so much music to see is amazing. It’s a creative and thoughtful place for people to relax and connect. People have just got their A Level and GCSE results and might want to meet people and talk about that.
“There’s always a great vibe, and then there’s the joyful atmosphere when people are reunited with their phones and wallets!”
Visit here for more information on Leeds Festival Angels.