Festival Spirit - UK
How many of you reading this have attended a festival where Martyn Joseph was performing?
How many of you have attended ANY festival where ANY artist was performing?
Now imagine that you’re in a wheelchair, or use an oxygen tank..
For the second half of 2016, we team up with an extraordinary project called Festival Spirit, homegrown right here in the UK. Festival Spirit exists to help people with life-limiting illness or disability enjoy the full festival experience that most young people see as a normal part of life and of growing up.
Founded in 2011 and based in Oxford, they are a small organisation – three trustees volunteer their spare time and energy to make things happen with support from a part-time administrator. A host of carers, nurses and ‘buddies’ volunteer at festivals and even pay a small charge for the privilege.
Festival Spirit have taken groups of up to 12 people to WOMAD every year, to Wilderness every year since 2013, and once to Glastonbury, in 2011.
2016 sees them taking groups to Wychwood Festival as well as WOMAD and Wilderness. Their immediate goal – and one we hope to help them reach – is to have a presence at all major festivals. Their longterm goal is of attending 10 festivals per annum by their tenth anniversary, providing places to 100-120 people who would not otherwise be able to attend.
What do they do/provide?
- Festival tickets for all attendees.
- A 2,400 sq ft Indian marquee with hard flooring for wheelchairs.
- Cordoned off sleeping accommodation for each guest and their primary carer.
- A fully electric hospital profile bed for each guest.
- Electric hoists for transferring to and from chairs.
- Shower chair and commodes.
- Heating of the marquee overnight for our guests who find temperature regulation difficult.
- A welcome barbecue.
- A hearty brunch and afternoon snack.
- ‘Buddies’ – Able-bodied helpers who make sure people get to the stages and activities they want to see, help them get food on site and help out with the campsite.
- Special seating so attendees can see above crowds, etc
Basically – they make it possible for someone who would otherwise never be able to attend a festival, to attend.
Thanks to their wonderful volunteers, they even manage to do all this at a cost per guest that is lower than a weekend of respite care.
There is no better way to understand the impact this experience has on the attendees than to hear from one directly- we share Hannah’s story to explain why we knew this was Let Yourself Trust’s next partnership.
Hannah is a Cambridge graduate struck down by illness whilst studying for her doctorate. She had broken two vertebra in a seizure six months prior to coming to Wilderness Festival in 2014 which was her longest period away from hospital for 7 months. She needed 24 hour oxygen using a ventilator and three carers. For Hannah, going to a festival had been a lifelong dream she thought would never be realised as her illness gradually defined her life. The dream came true. In her words:
“And that perhaps is what a festival is: a chance to break away from the person you actually are, and spend one brief, magical weekend as the person you’d like to be.
With my practical restrictions sorted by Festival Spirit, I was, just for one weekend, myself once again. I didn’t choose to become a Renaissance Madonna or a Fairy Queen: for me, the transformation was far more subtle. I was just myself as I should be, without the limitations imposed by my illness; for that one tiny glimpse, I can never thank Festival Spirit enough.”
Where can I find out more?
Official website for Festival Spirit: www.festivalspirit.org
Festival Spirit Charity registration #1144888 (in Wales & England)
A closing note from one of Festival Spirit’s own Trustees, Steve Clarke:
"There is a natural affinity through the medium of music and how it can reach the feelings and emotions of the people we support.
It is a great honour to be supported by Let Yourself Trust, and a very effective way of raising much needed awareness and funding to help many more people than we are currently able to."
We can’t wait either, Steve! Let’s go!