This is part two of my Latitude mini series. If you haven’t read part one: Latitude 2018 – Part One: The Festival, then I strongly recommend you so before continuing with this post.
As I’m sure you are aware by now, this year I wanted to make a conscious effort to try new things and push myself in a new direction, both mentally and physically. Early on in this challenge, I discovered HotBox Events. Way back in February, an advert caught my eye on Facebook asking for volunteers for Latitude Festival. Curious, I clicked on it, expecting it to be some sort of scam but the more I read, the more I felt like this was a golden opportunity for me to really try something new and without spending a penny. On an impulse, I filled out my application form and clicked send. As part of Hotbox’s policy, they require a £145 deposit to secure your place. This covers the cost of a ticket in case you fail to turn up to your shifts (I can confirm that I got the full amount back so don’t let it put you off).
I was amazed at how quickly I got a response confirming my place. Amazed and slightly concerned. A lot of signs were pointing to a scam at this point and having never done anything like this before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I just had to hope for the best.
A few months passed and it was time to pick my shifts and what kind of job I would like. Hotbox offers four jobs:
Campsite Assistant Team or C.A.T: They are people who walk around the campsites, helping people pitch their tents, give them directions and are just genuinely helpful people.
Tower Campsite Assistant Team or Tower C.A.T: They man the fire towers which are scattered across the campsites. They are looking out for any fires or smoke that could cause trouble. As well as helping anyone who looks distressed. They must not leave the tower unmanned so there is also a Tower C.A.T on the ground who can be sent, with the water backpack in tow to wherever they are needed.
Pixies!: These happy people were dressed up as fairies and pixies during their shifts and would effectively do the role of both C.A.Ts while walking around the wooded area of the arena.
Arena Team: Poor arena team. The name sounds so cool! Unfortunately it actually means toilet monitor within the arena grounds.
I was a Tower C.A.T and I really enjoyed it. I think I’ll do the same next year if I’m honest. Once I had decided what role I wanted to do, I had to look through the list of shift patterns and see which one best suited what acts I wanted to see. I chose to do a night shift (01:00 – 09:00) on Friday, early shift (09:00 – 17:00) Saturday so I could see The Killers and a Late Shift (17:00- 01:00) on Sunday.
All the advice I needed was online, including transport help and meal tickets. Now all I needed to do was turn up.
Arriving at the festival grounds, I was amazed at how many other volunteering companies there were. I had just assumed it would just be us Hotboxers. Co-op, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Actionaid… Just to name a few. We were however probably the biggest compound and I defiantly saw more Hotbox workers around than any other type of volunteer. Base camp was easy enough to find and once I got there, the staff were more than helpful. especially after I completely forgot to bring my national insurance card… Oops. The one annoying thing about our base camp was the lack of toilet. We had been told that a few would be installed during out stay but sadly that didn’t happen and the toilet black was a five-minute walk away. This resulted in people peeing up by the fence, next to my tent. Not fun.
We all had a team brief on the Wednesday night to welcome us and inform us of the rules and regulations, how to use the radios (OMG they were so much fun to use) and what we could and couldn’t say.
My shifts weren’t too bad in all honesty. The early shift was by far the worst as I stood in that tower, watching everyone else head into the arena. It was the only shift that felt like a proper day at work. The other two were far more enjoyable, especially the night shift as we watched drunk people stagger back to their tents. Luckily during my entire time, I only spotted one potential fire; a barbecue someone had knocked over by accident. The rest of the time I was giving advice on the best place for people to pitch their tents. During each of the shifts I stuck myself with another lone camper, Neive (Hi Neive if you read thing, good luck during your second year in Amsterdam!) which made the shifts much nicer. People watching was one of our favourite hobbies.
Sadly, the problem with volunteering is that you will always get people who feel like they don’t need to give it 100% and there was a couple who were regularly in our group who took any opportunity to sit on their backsides and just genuinely looked unapproachable. Seem such a shame to behave in that way. No-one really wants to be working during a festival but we got free entry. It’s only fair to do your share.
It does get very tiring up those towers though. As we are there to provide safety to the public, we had to stand for however many hours we were up there and baring in mind, during Latitude, England was having some of the longest heatwaves on record. The other two Tower C.A.Ts and I came up with a system where the longest you were up the tower was 2 hours followed by an hour break. It worked pretty well. Tower 3 didn’t have a parasol so those 2 hours were torture but at least it was only two hours and not raining.
All in all, volunteering with Hotbox was a pleasant experience and is defiantly something I will do again, hopefully next year. It was a great way to get into a festival for free and a further customer service role to add to my C.V. Thank you very much for having me Hotbox!
I have not been approached or paid by Hotbox events to write this blog but I always feel that the more advice you can give to other people, the better.