The Buddhafield Festival is held over a period of five days, on a beautiful site in the Blackdown Hills, in Somerset, England. The event brings together around three thousand people for a sharing and celebration of alternative social, cultural, political and spiritual values. The mix of activities around Buddhist, environmental, healing and social change themes together with general festival attractions such as singing, dance, yoga, drumming, live music, comedy, craftwork, chai cafes, saunas, hot tubs and a huge range of activities for children, attracts a wide range of festival goers. The feedback we get is that for many the event is a reminder that a more positive and kind alternative to conventional competitive and environmentally damaging ways of living is possible. In keeping with the Festival's Buddhist ethos the event is a drug and alcohol-free zone.
Needless to say, in order for the Festival to be a life-enhancing and indeed for some a life-transforming experience, much hard work is required. From the day we arrive in an empty field with a small vanguard, our numbers gradually swell until we have around eight hundred volunteers welcoming the three thousand visitors. The set-up crew erect the structures that will act as kitchens and venues. They establish the infrastructure such as plumbing, compost toilets, showers and saunas. They make the site beautiful and safe with flags, bunting, paths, fences and lighting. Then during the Festival we have stewards to welcome and guide festival goers, to manage parking and traffic and to attend to people's well-being. Toilet wizards maintain the compost toilets. A team of recyclers sorts materials so as to minimize landfill. The café crew feed volunteers and festival goers alike. The site crew look after the infrastructure, tents, water etc. During the set-up phase volunteers will get one day off and during the festival two days either as full days or half days, depending on the needs of the particular teams.
VAP volunteers will be invited to work in a number of areas before and during the festival for example: the Healing area, the Buddhafield cafe, site crew, recycling and ‘toilet wizards’ décor, welcome and departure teams.
During the Festival the volunteers will have work shifts, but will also have time to enjoy the huge variety of events taking place and facilities available as outlined above. Volunteers are asked to attend daily morning meetings, the exact time depending on what area of work they choose to join. The work is very team-based. The whole enterprise runs on goodwill, awareness of each others’ needs, good communication and mutual support. During set-up and take-down there will be organised events around Buddhist themes, attendance at which is completely voluntary. There are generally also alternatives such as spontaneous musical gatherings, often around a fire. They will also have someone onsite who is their direct contact for support and pastoral care. They will meet as a group together each day.