I don’t know about you but I love a challenge! So, when someone suggested that Mark & I could maybe go to Glastonbury (a long-held dream of ours!) by volunteering, I was all ears.
We applied back in January, and were successful in volunteering with Water Aid. They are one of the 3 main charities at Glastonbury - the other two being Greenpeace and Oxfam all of which are close to our hearts. Water Aid is an international charity who are aspiring to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere throughout the world within a generation. We take all these things for granted but so many people worldwide do not have these basics and of course this leads to disease, and children not being able to finish their education because of illness; almost 900 children die every day because they don’t have a decent toilet/ hygiene.
When Water Aid offered us the opportunity, we were delighted even when we were told we would be on “Loo Crew”!
I said to my friends and colleagues how much I was looking forward to it – how much it would push me out of my comfort zone. I mean, how bad could it be? I think as I get older I appreciate what I have and I was ready for a challenge. As part of our induction, we went along to a training evening in Glasgow, met some of our fellow volunteers, and learned more about the job which was reassuring as we met people who were returning to do the same job – so how bad could it be? So, we packed our rucksacks with everything we could possibly need and headed down to the amazing festival site at Worthy Farm, near Glastonbury in Somerset on Tuesday 20th June.
We were in a family of approx. 500 volunteers with Water Aid and we weren’t the oldest!! The site is huge: 200,000 festival goers and 68,000 workers and volunteers. It takes an hour to walk from one side of the site to the other (my Fitbit measured 40,000 steps 2 days running!) and it never stops! The logistics are incredible. The loo crews clean over 2500 toilets that require cleaning almost 24/7. Our shifts varied – some started at 06:00 whilst others finished around midnight. Armed with our mops, buckets and bravado we cleaned our loos whilst listening to bands like The Killers, Chic and London Grammar.
Our primary aim was to ask people to sign the petition for Water Aid – this year it is to ask the UK Secretary of State for International Development to make sure that all UK Government plans for schools globally include clean water and toilets for every child. This year’s #water fight is still current so it’s not too late to sign up – you can do so on the Water Aid website here
What did I learn from the experience? Was it a challenge? Would I do it again?
I pushed myself – I loved being part of a team with a shared focus of getting as many signatures on the petition as possible. I certainly pushed myself to do some things that I will not be writing about in this blog (!) and things that I didn’t think I could do. I think all readers would be surprised at what we were faced with and what we did – whilst we didn’t have mud we did have heat which also brought other smellier challenges!!
I pushed the message about the water fight - It was fantastic to engage with complete strangers, asking them to sign up to the petition while they were waiting for a toilet, or waiting to fill up their water bottles. Yes, we had a captive audience but everyone was SO grateful for what we were doing. We even got a round of applause one evening!
I pushed online - I relished the team spirit and everyone’s engagement on social media – all pushing the cause of Water Aid. It has made me much more aware of how many millions of people around the globe don’t have access to something that I completely take for granted. 663 million people (I in 10) don’t have clean water and how much impact you can have pushing a cause on social media channels. Directly relevant of course to the world of business.
So, if you get the chance to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, do it. It will be an unbelievably rewarding experience, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself as well!!
The whole experience was fantastic and, yes, I’d do it again!