First of all, thank you for being willing to volunteer as a Festival Angel for the this years Leeds Festival. This introduction will tell you a bit about the vision we have for the festival, what will be expected of you and also what you may need to bring.
The Prayer Tent began life in 2011 as an initiative led by Thorner Churches Together selling teas and coffees and offering prayer or a listening ear to anyone who wanted it between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Last year we expanded the hours to make it 24/7 from Wednesday noon to Monday morning of the festival. We also expanded the volunteers to involve people from across Leeds and also other Dioceses, and from a whole range of different denominations. A third expansion was to run not only a prayer tent selling teas and coffees, but also to run the festival’s Lost Property Tent and to engage in detached work around the festival site (essentially doing the sort of thing Street Angels and Street Pastors do in various towns and cities up and down the country, but in the Festival setting). Both of these additional roles were at the invitation of Festival Republic, the company that runs Leeds and Reading Festivals.
Our teams and impact have grown from year to year - this is an indication of the level of professionalism and commitment our amazing teams of volunteers bring to the role.
What do we expect from you?
We expect all volunteers to work for a minimum of 16 hours over the 5 days (this can be done in two 8-hour stints or 4 4-hour stints) though obviously the more you are able to offer the better. If you have a preference for a particular period, such as during the night, then please put that down. Equally if there is a particular band you really want to see then tell us and we’ll do our best to keep you free during that slot (though if everyone wants to see the same band that becomes impossible!).
To give you some idea of what happens in each area there’s a short explanation of each below.
In the prayer cafe there will be 2 areas – 1 serving teas and coffees and 1 for prayer/listening. There will be between 4 and 8 volunteers allocated to each time slot, depending on the need with at least 2 serving drinks and 2 or more ‘hanging around and offering prayer’. We'll be selling branded thermos mugs for £5 each with unlimited refills throughout the festival - this means around 3000 festival goers make us the breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper stop so there is always plenty to do!
Across the tent there will be string. People who come for a cup of tea will be invited to write a prayer on a ‘post-it’ note and hang it on the string, with the promise that sometime during the weekend we will pray for whatever they write down. The duty of the ‘prayer’ side of the tent is to offer people the post-it notes and, if appropriate, engage them in conversation.
Lost Property Tent
For several years Festival Angels have dealt with Lost Property at the Leeds Festival. Each year we have tweaked and improved an efficient system of recording and storing hundreds of items handed in during the day and night. With the use of a computer database we can usually quite quickly determine if we have in store an item that a festival-goer has lost. Sometimes it can be busy in the tent with a short queue of people making enquiries. At other times, particularly through the night, we have opportunity to match up items with reported losses. The work is incredibly rewarding as we return property to Happy Bunnies who are surprised and amazed that what they thought was lost for good is now found. It is also challenging work as some of our enquirers are understandably distraught or despondent.
The team requires volunteers who are willing to work to a system whilst at the same time looking out for the individual.
The detached teams patrol through the site meeting with and talking to workers and campers alike, being that helping hand that helps carry the extra mile (sometimes literally), listens to the hung over and brings water to the thirsty. In a very real way being Christ’s hands and heart to the people at the festival. Some experience of Christian ministry on the streets (such as Street Angels) would be helpful but not essential as all inexperienced volunteers will be paired with experienced ones.
What is our Vision for Festival Angels?
Our vision for Festival Angels is that in the prayer cafe, the Lost Property Tent, in Detached Teams and across the festival we can be a presence of the Churches standing with the young people as they enjoy themselves at the festival.
Our vision is that some of the young people who attend the festival might go home with a greater respect for Christ’s Church as a result of our presence and our care.
Our vision is that we might see prayers answered and young lives turned towards Jesus.
What do you need to bring?
The majority of volunteers stay within our camp-site area in the workers section. Festival Republic assign us an area to camp in which is private from the main camping and in the ‘workers’ area and very close to the main action. Volunteers coming from afar can camp in this area but will need to bring their own cooking facilities (please ignore the Festival’s ruling on no gas burners, it only applies to public camping) and food.
There may also be space at the local Vicarage and at the homes of local Christians - your own transport will be necessary.
While at the festival you’ll need wellies (everybody wears wellies) and sufficient clothes for a variety of weathers across the weekend. You can buy food at the festival, but it’s horrendously expensive and not very nice (you have been warned!)