Volunteers' Week - Lisa's story

Date published: 04 June 2023 19:29
Dated: 04 June 2023 20:27:57
From 1 – 7 June, Volunteers’ Week is taking place, a time to celebrate volunteers across the country and the amazing work that they do.

To celebrate, we heard from SYP employees who have shared their own volunteering experiences with us.

Call Resolution Officer, Lisa, has volunteered with Oxfam at various festivals across the country, and has also volunteered with local charities. Here, she tells us all about what she does…

“I have been volunteering for the past four or five years now, mainly doing stewarding at festivals. I have also volunteered with local homeless charities such as Roundabout and HARC (Homeless and Rootless at Christmas), and I also volunteered during the covid pandemic where I gave out food parcels to vulnerable people.

“I have volunteered at many festivals over the past few years, including Glastonbury, Boardmasters, Leeds Festival and Tramlines. I initially signed up to volunteer with Oxfam at Glastonbury for 2020, as it was Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary and it was also my 50th birthday that same year, and I had always wanted to go. However, as the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, I eventually got to go last year where I went on my own and worked as a steward. I worked on the gates and helped people with directions.

“I was supposed to be volunteering at Glastonbury with my friend, but she had to drop out as she couldn’t go, and I was in two minds on whether to do it or not as I felt a bit nervous about going on my own. However, the people there are so nice and everyone is friendly; if you walk around the festival, people will stop and talk to you. The campsite where volunteers stay is very secure too, as you can’t get onto the site unless you have ID with you. There are also showers and nice toilets, and there is a really good vibe overall, so I felt a lot better about being on my own.

“Aside from Glastonbury, I’ve also volunteered at Boardmasters where I was based at an information hut where people would come and ask questions if they were unsure of where to go, and any other general questions they had. I have also volunteered at Tramlines in Sheffield with UN Women where I was a ‘guardian angel’ volunteer. I was based at a tent where I spoke to young women about safe spaces at festivals, which are designated spaces that women can go to if they feel unsafe. In this role, we also got to mingle with the crowds and did face painting with glitter to get people in so we could chat to them.

“When you’re volunteering at festivals, you normally do one of three shifts each day which include early morning, afternoon and evening shifts where you work for around just over eight hours. The good thing about volunteering at festivals is that as long as you do your shifts and get them signed off by your supervisor, you can then spend the rest of the day as you wish, so you can go and see bands performing as well as all of the other things the festivals offer. You also get your money back if you do all the festivals you have signed up for, and you also get priority if you have done two festivals previously before tickets go out to the public, so there are many benefits.

“This year, I’ve signed up to volunteer at Glastonbury again as I really enjoyed it last year, and I’m also doing Latitude and Leeds Festival where I’ll be doing similar things that I’ve done before. I love volunteering at festivals, and now that I’ve volunteered I don’t think I would go to a festival unless if I was going to volunteer.

“As well as festival volunteering, I have also volunteered with local charities. A couple of years ago, I volunteered to do a sleep out for Roundabout, which is a homeless charity. We slept out in a warehouse on Burton Road in Sheffield, where we slept in sleeping bags and got sponsorships and raised money for the charity. I also volunteered with HARC (Homeless and Rootless at Christmas) about three or four years ago at Sheffield Cathedral throughout the Christmas period which was for homeless people, where I served hot meals. They could also come and get free clothes from us, and local hairdressers and barbers also came along and gave people free haircuts. I also volunteered on Christmas Day with HARC which felt really rewarding helping people in need at Christmas. I had always wanted to volunteer on Christmas Day, and I previously worked in catering, so when I saw an advert on Facebook calling out for volunteers to help serve meals on Christmas Day, I looked into signing up straight away. Last year, I also volunteered to do the cold water challenge for Cancer Research, where you immerse yourself in cold water every day for a whole month.

“In December 2021, my dad passed away from cancer, and it was a difficult time for me and my family. Covid restrictions were still in place at the time, and I decided I wanted to do something for someone else who needed some help at Christmas time and whilst covid restrictions were still around. One day, I went to Aldi with my mum to do a food shop, and I saw that they were giving out Christmas meal parcels for people who needed it. I then decided to volunteer to do some food shopping for a lady who was vulnerable, and I also volunteered in giving out the food parcels to people. Again, it felt so rewarding and people were really appreciative of what we were doing.

“I can be quite shy if I don’t know people, and volunteering has made me much more confident and outgoing, as I have been thrown into a new environment and had to talk to people I don’t know.

“When I volunteered at Glastonbury last year, I got talking to a couple about where to go as I was a little unsure, and they were really nice. I think volunteering has given me more people skills, and I’ve been able to meet and speak to people from all walks of life. When I volunteered with the homeless charities, it gave me a real insight into the other side of life and how people live, and I feel like I have gained an understanding of different people from different backgrounds. Also, when I volunteered at Tramlines, I had to speak to young women about safe spaces, and at first I found it slightly challenging as I wouldn’t normally speak to younger people. Everyone is different, and what you think is normal might not be for someone else.

“To anyone who is thinking about volunteering, I would say step out of your comfort zone and do it.

“Volunteering really does make you feel good, so you do feel like you get something out of it. I can honestly say you won’t regret it if you volunteer, so my advice would be just do it!”

If you are interested in volunteering with us, we are currently recruiting for Special Constables. You can find out more information about the role and apply here.

Woman wearing a pink wig with heart shaped sunglasses on smiling in a selfie pose

Lisa at one of the festivals

Woman at a festival sat in a giant deck chair wearing a t-shirt, denim shorts, sandals, sunglasses and a bandana smiling

Lisa at Glastonbury Festival in 2022

Related Content

No related content found