Thinking about volunteering at Glastonbury Festival? Want to know what it’s like to work with Oxfam at one of the biggest festivals in Europe? Now you can – Thanks to a fabulous exclusive guest post by Emma from the wonderful Instagram account @FestivalCoupleUK you can see exactly what it’s like volunteering at Glastonbury festival with Oxfam.
Sophie very kindly asked me if I wanted to contribute a guest piece to her blog, focusing on attending Glasto as an Oxfam volunteer, so here goes!
This year was our 2nd time volunteering at Glastonbury with Oxfam! In 2017 we were lucky enough to get tickets, so we weren’t complete newbies. We also volunteered at Boomtown in 2019 and will be returning again in a few weeks – cannot wait!
Volunteering with Oxfam as a Steward typically involves working three 8 hour shifts over the course of the week. We get to arrive on the Monday before the public are allowed in, which is brilliant because the site is full of build crew and other staff so there are several crew bars open, some til the early hours, so the party can start a full 2 days before the gates open!
We (my husband Jason and I) were in a group of 5, and we put in our Oxfam application that we wanted the same shift pattern as our friends, meaning we all have our time off together, which is fab. We get our own Glastonbury Campsite called ‘Oxfield’ with showers, slightly better loos and Oxfam stewards guarding the gates to ensure no-one else can access our campsite. It’s also right next to the car park so no trudging for an hour between car and tent! There’s even a marquee with hot water, tea/coffee/milk, and our onsite caterers the Occasional Kitchen kept us fed and watered between shifts. We receive a meal token per shift, but we could buy extra meals if we wanted to.
The majority of the Stewarding roles involve working on the vehicle or pedestrian gates – checking tickets and wristbands, issuing ‘pass outs’, and directing people to keep the queues moving. Last time we worked on Ped Gate A, which was extremely busy in the daytimes but quieter at night, and this time we worked two shifts on Ped Gate C, which was busy throughout the day and night, due to it being the gate to the Campervan fields. We had our last shift on one of the Vehicle Gates, which we found much more interesting as we got to see some of the artists coming in and out, including Sir Paul McCartney himself who gave us a thumbs up as his car went past!
Emma’s Glastonbury Volunteering Tips:
Volunteering is a really good way of seeing the festival from another aspect, especially if you want to give back.
Here are my volunteering tips below for anyone who is interested in signing up next year!
- Take lots (and I mean LOTS!) of layers. This includes hat, gloves, scarf – it gets cold at night and the majority of volunteers do at least one night shift.
- Take a mug for the night shift tea van. You will appreciate it when it’s 4am and you’re cold and tired.
- Take snacks/sweets to keep you going during your shifts. Some of the shift locations are not particularly close to any food vendors, and you will probably want to use your 30 minute break to sit down.
- Make friends with other volunteers. Everyone is so friendly and they will have lots of tips, advice and you’ll probably make friends for life!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a shift swap. If you have a particular artist you want to see but your shifts don’t allow it, you can request to swap your shift pattern with someone else. You do have to swap all 3 shifts however, but there is a ‘swaps board’ especially for this purpose.
- Take a power bank. There is a phone charging ‘area’ with plug sockets, but take a power bank to charge your phone instead as it gets very busy. Buy a good one such as an Anker 20100 mAh as you’re there for a whole week so will probably need to charge your phone a few times.
- Rotate your shifts, change it up. Ask your Supervisor on shift to be rotated into another position mid-shift if you want to do different tasks – for example, on one shift I did 3 roles: ‘signposting’, checking wristbands, and issuing pass outs, which kept the shift interesting.
- Join the WhatsApp group(s). A great way to make friends before the festival, find out all the Crew Bar locations and probably the quickest way to find out about any secret sets!
- Get an EE Sim. (This is a tip for punters too) – I had great coverage all festival, whereas friends on other networks had very hit and miss signal.
- Volunteer at 2 festivals this summer with Oxfam to get priority for next year (i.e. get a guaranteed place at Glasto!). Priority applications open a week before General applications, and Glasto has never yet filled in the Priority window so it’s a great way to make sure you get to the best festival on the planet!
We were lucky with our shift pattern for Glastonbury 2022 – we worked Weds 6am-2pm, Thursday 10pm-6am, and Saturday 2pm-10pm. This meant only one shift during the ‘proper’ festival and so we had LOADS of time to go and see some new music, some old favourites, and some big names.
Emma & Jason’s Glastonbury Highlights:
- Razzomo on the Bandstand on Wednesday eve – this was the first band we got to see, and their lively folky/gypsy/90s rave mashups were great for having a right old knees up as the sun was setting.
- Josh Widdicombe at the Cabaret tent on Friday – we always like to do a bit of comedy and the line up was great this year. Bit of a shaky start but he soon picked it up, and the tent was rammed. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any other comedy so I’m glad we made the effort for Josh!
- Sugababes at Avalon on the Friday night – this was a massive dose of nostalgia for me as the original line up were back together, singing all the classics from when I was in my teens. It was so packed we couldn’t get in the tent, but we had a good singalong outside anyway.
- Paul McCartney on the Pyramid on Saturday – I can’t say I’ve always been the biggest Beatles fan, but Jason is so we went along to this straight after our shift. The atmosphere was brilliant and everyone joined in for all the classics. We even got given cider and whisky by the kind souls we were standing next to, as we told them we forgot to pack drinks when heading off for our shift! Real Glasto spirit right there.
- Oh My God! It’s the Church at 5AM (yes, AM) on Sunday morning – we’ve seen this hilarious group many, many times but never their Sunday morning service, so it had to be done. The walk from Shangri-La back to the Oxfield just outside Ped Gate B was a killer though!
- Beans on Toast at Greenpeace on Sunday – another festival favourite, we caught his set whilst eating lunch and it never fails to make us smile as he tells us his favourite stories through his songwriting.
- Diana Ross on the Pyramid – total legend – enough said! The crowds were huge but the sun was shining and it was THE place to be on a Sunday afternoon.
- Years & Years at the Other Stage – we missed their set last time so made a beeline for it this time – and what a party atmosphere! The girls around us were living their best life and we even bought a round of vodka jellies for everyone (why not?).
- Doreen Doreen at the Summerhouse – for anyone who hasn’t heard of Doreen Doreen, they are a group of fabulous ladies who perform cover hits with their very talented band. Think Abba, Queen, Erasure, Wham, ACDC… and more. It’s hard to explain why they are SO GOOD – but if you ever see them on a festival line up – GO! You won’t regret it!
- Sub Focus B2B Dimension – just in case you thought we only went to Glasto for the cheesy pop, we closed our weekend off with two kings of Drum & Bass at Arcadia. Sub Focus is my absolute fave D&B artist and he played all the bangers to get us skanking underneath that flame-throwing spider.
There were so many more acts we saw but I think these were our faves!
Emma & Jason
All images and content kindly provided by Emma- Follow her and Jason’s Festival adventures on their Instagram!