Unfortunately, yet again I find myself among the unemployed masses of Ireland. To do something productive with my time and also to gain some more experience, I decided to volunteer (also, it can look good on the ol’ CV) I have tried volunteering in the past, but never got a response from the organisers before. This time was definitely different, when I applied to be a volunteer for the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular. The Laya Healthcare City Spectacular was formerly known as the Street Performers World Championships.
Probably due to me wrongly reading the e-mail from Aoife (volunteer co-ordinator) I didn’t actually realise I had been chosen as a volunteer, when she asked me if I was coming to the volunteer orientation night. I had indeed been chosen and I had decided on going to the orientation night. Before that I decided to waste some of Aoife’s time by asking some stupid questions (not really – they were genuine questions that felt stupid after they had been asked)
On the orientation night we were given maps, along with information briefs and were treated to a special private show by ‘The Space Cowboy‘ aka Chayne Hultgren where he put a shark hook in his nostril and out his mouth, he swallowed a sword and showed us how he could bend spoons with his body energy – see for yourself!
I had signed up to work one shift for each of the 3 days the Laya City Spec would be in Dublin. I arrived slightly early for my shift and reintroduced myself to Aoife & Christina at the volunteer tent and got to know a few other of the volunteers too. I had originally been assigned to festival greeter for Friday, but after helping performers with their stuff, Aoife thought my time would better be spent as a runner for her & Christina, and it was a great decision for me 🙂
The Friday was quiet and a great introduction to volunteering, as only 3 of the stages were up for Friday, and the 2 streets outside weren’t used until Saturday. On my first day, I really only had to deal with some equipment deliveries for performers, but most of my time was spent close to the volunteer tent running here & there for Aoife. I also helped one of the organisers with a delivery to the City Spec offices, which led to a few boxes of free crisps for the volunteers!
I had had so much fun on the Friday, I decided to come in early on the Saturday, because i knew how busy it might get at the weekend with all stages & areas open. And boy was I right, my shift was to start at 3, I arrived around 13:30 and was almost immediately put to work – which I loved 🙂 Unfortunately, for a little while I had a boring job as stage runner at a stage that didn’t need a runner, a lot of standing around was done, but I did get a chance to see some shows – Fraser Hooper & the USA Break Dancers
USA Break Dancers
After the break dancers, I was placed back at the volunteer tent for the rest of the day as a runner. The rest of the day was fairly quiet as there were only 1 or 2 shows left on the stages, but I was kept busy with various duties. But, as I went around on my duties I had enough time freedom that I could take pictures from around the festival
At the end of the day I had the honoured position of taking the bins out of the park so they could be emptied before the next day. This was the 10th anniversary of the festival, so there was a celebration in Everleigh Gardens that night, where we were treated to some special exhibitions by 4 of the street performers Shep Huntly, Space Cowboy, Mama Lou & Mario Queen of the Circus. Because we had been quite busy over the course of the day, this was the first chance for a lot of us to see some of the performers shows, and because we had worked hard that day, very few of us, if any made it to midnight.
After a good nights sleep I headed into town for what I thought would be my final day. I had been rostered to work 1 shift, but because of the fun I was having and the fact I knew the final Dublin day was going to be hectic, I decided that I would offer my services for the whole day, and it was a good thing that I did. On my way to the park i picked up butter and bread, because we had been given so much crisps on the Saturday, Christina thought we should make crisp sandwiches. I started by undoing my last task of the day , in other words I put back all of the now empty bins around the park. I was again working as a runner for Aoife & Christina, I was kept busy throughout the day, but also had plenty of time to look around the festival and take it all in.
Christina took the crisp sandwich project seriously, and before long we had around 20 half sandwiches made and with free fairy wings from Discover Northern Ireland, the Crisp Sambo fairies were born, and we delivered food & joy to the volunteers around the festival. The Crisp Sambo fairies were so successful we did it all over again a few hours later, lots of smiles were put on the faces of volunteers, and it was great fun too!
The festival got very busy on the Sunday (not surprising) and given the layout of Merrion Square, there were a lot of lost spectators, so Aoife made me her I (or information point) at a very busy intersection, over 2 sessions I probably spent about 90 minutes handing out programmes, explaining the map contained in the program and directing people to where they wanted to go. In between the 2 information sessions Christina deliver some more crisp sandwiches, although this time we took our time 😉 After I helped Aoife with some deliveries, video some more festivities, as well as Aoife & Hannah messing about on the trampoline and got a picture with Mama Lou.
At the end of the day we had to take out the bins again, and we had to take down the tables and chairs from our tent, as the Dublin leg of the City Spectacular was over.
I was so happy that I took the chance to volunteer. I had been having a bad time in my own life, I have pretty much lost my friends, I am on the long search for a job, and I spend a lot of my time alone. These are some of the reasons why I gave up more of my time than I was asked, but I loved it all. Over the course of the 3 days I met a lot of new people and think I have gained some real friends from the experience, I had a lot of fun doing my jobs, gained some good experience for my professional and personal life, and hopefully I made some contacts that will make my job search that little bit easier.
Like I said at the start, I had assumed that Sunday would be my last day volunteering for the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, but because of how well I worked, my volunteering adventure was not over yet, but that is a story for another day 😉