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Food Power in action at Camp Bestival

Posted by Emily Smyth Volunteer campaigner – Camp Bestival 2012

3rd Aug 2012

Emily Smyth joined the Oxfam Campaigns team on the music festival circuit this summer. Read about her experiences at Camp Bestival inspiring multiple generations to tackle food injustice.

After having recently graduated from a degree in History and International Relations, I wanted to get involved with Oxfam's GROW campaign which I knew has been successfully trying to raise awareness of the broken global food system. I was part of an exciting campaign team at Camp Bestival in Dorset this July which spoke to festival goers about the issues and engaged them in practical solutions. The campaigns team included ten diverse and passionate characters who all shared their various experiences openly and enthusiastically. Some had done relevant degrees in Food Science or Economics while others had worked for N.G.O's or were experienced Oxfam volunteers. We were coordinated each day by the wonderful Florence and Karen who both motivated and supported us on a daily basis.

Our activities activity involved getting festival goers to write or draw on a giant portable whiteboard their ideas about how we could regain 'food power' and make food fairer for all. This worked extremely well at Camp Bestival which played host to a crowd made up of various ages! People were very responsive to the GROW campaign and indeed to Oxfam's ethos in general. It was amazing to hear real life stories of how families were consciously working to live more sustainably and contribute to a more balanced food economy. The great thing at this particular festival was the tendency of parents to encourage their children to actively partake in the activity because they hoped that the next generation would understand in greater detail where their food comes from. Every morning when I woke up I knew that we were making a difference and that we were adding some more meaning to people's overall festival experience.

 Campaign activities

The festival allowed me to make some lifelong friends and converse with like-minded people.  The team had such a great time going to the gigs and chilling in the castle grounds when we had finished our shifts. The experience also reinstated my intrinsic faith that the public are genuinely interested in bringing about long term change to end poverty and make food more ecologically accountable in the global arena.


I'm moving to London in September to pursue an MA in Music Theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama. I plan to write my thesis about how music and performance has been used to tackle serious international issues such as the broken food system. I would definitely recommend volunteering with Oxfam at festivals and will definitely be doing so again in the future!

Join Oxfam at music festivals

Blog post written by Emily Smyth

Volunteer campaigner – Camp Bestival 2012

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