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A day in the life of the Oxfam Festival Shop

Posted by Kelly OConnor Digital and Events Marketing Coordinator

3rd Sep 2012

As the summer festival season draws to a close and we start packing our bags for Bestival we wanted to give you a taste of what a day in the life of the Oxfam Festival shop is like.

A team of dedicated volunteers from Oxfam shops around the country work on site at several festivals over the summer. At Leeds Festival the Oxfam shop and café is open for around 18 hours a day, selling festival must-haves such as jumpers, waterproofs and strong cups of coffee!

Jacky Hall - media intern at Oxfam's Manchester office - shares her experience of the festival.


The team is up early in crew camping - on the edge of the festival site - to the sounds of sheep bleating, wood pigeons cooing and mobile phone alarms chirping. It could almost be a rural holiday site, until it's time to find out which of the crew showers are cold.

Leeds Festival

7.32am They are all cold!

8am There's 25 of us in the team, working in six-hour shifts. Some of us have met previously at other festivals, but for others it's their first time volunteering with the festival shop. 'I couldn't go back to being a normal camper,' says Amy as we begin the walk across the main arena to the Oxfam shop. Volunteering can be hard work, but we all agree the long hours and heavy lifting are worthwhile because we're making new friends, enjoying a big music festival and raising valuable funds for a charity we all support.

leeds festival

9am We open up shop for the day to discover a queue of shivering festival-goers developing. It was a cold night, so some of them are hoping to cure their hangovers with porridge and Fair Trade Cafédirect brews from the Oxfam café. Others are after our £5 sleeping bags or £12 handknitted blankets to keep out the chill.

leeds festival

11am The shop starts a DIY Fashion workshop making cool new scarves out of donated t-shirts. Some of the volunteers who are taking a break join in the craft sessions. Here's how to make your own infinity scarf

leeds festival

1pm The sun comes out, and so do the festival fashionistas, flicking through the rails to find that perfect Friday outfit. Maybe some of them are hoping to be style spotted for the Oxfam Fashion blog. 'I love buying clothes from your shop,' a customer tells us. 'I don't know why I go shopping during the rest of the year.'

leeds festival

4.30pm We sell so many different things in the festival shop from band t-shirts to vintage style dresses. One customer spots a Metallica t-shirt in volunteer Nel's hands. 'A Metallica t-shirt for a fiver! I have to buy it!' And she does, along with a gothic skirt.

7pm The sun's going down and teeth are starting to chatter, so there's a rush of customers in search of cosy jumpers and warm jackets.

7.30pm Carnival Moon hits the decks in the neighbouring Oxjam tent. His motown and soul tunes get us energised. Only another four and a half hours to go.

leeds festival

9pm Headliners Foo Fighters take to the main stage, leaving us with an empty shop.  So we play dress up - trying on hot pink wigs, animal print trousers and fuzzy jumpers!

leeds festival

10pm The volunteer team are flagging, so it's time for a tea and coffee run.

10.10pm The caffeine didn't work. Time for another tea run.

11pm Crowds are pouring out from the main arena as the bands have finished, keeping us busy with requests for blankets and waterproof jackets. A group of lads recognise Nel from Oxfam Originals in Manchester, the shop where she volunteers.

1am A stag do arrives, all wanting to dress up for a night of partying. We style them up with wigs and sparkly frocks, then they're off to frolic.

2am Time to pull down the shutters - well, marquee entrance - on another day at the festival shop. There's still enough time and energy for a dance in the Silent Disco tent before crawling into our tents.


If you are interested in volunteering with the Oxfam Festival Shop team next summer, you need to have volunteered in an Oxfam shop for at least three months, and can apply online from the spring.

Blog post written by Kelly OConnor

Digital and Events Marketing Coordinator

More by Kelly OConnor