A record number of volunteers from across Sussex and beyond are participating in Brighton Fringe this year.
As the UK marks National Volunteers’ Week (Thurs 1 – Weds 7 June), Brighton Fringe is celebrating the contribution volunteers are making to this year’s festival. Organisers have been overwhelmed by the support it has received with 180 people donating more than 1100 man-hours during May alone.
People of all ages, from teenagers to pensioners, have come forward to help England’s largest arts festival enjoy another successful year. Many volunteers are from Sussex although people from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Romania and Japan are also taking part. “We have been amazed by the response this year,” said Joanna Hedges, Brighton Fringe’s event manager. “More people are donating their time than ever before.
“Large scale events such as Fringe City would just not be possible without our volunteers. Brighton Fringe is a small organisation and their support is invaluable.”
Writer Steve Jeanes, 66, from Ditchling Road has been volunteering for Brighton Fringe for four years. “Disintegrating into senility, watching afternoon TV or helping my Brighton Fringe family? It’s a no brainer,” he said. “Every retiree needs a hobby to keep their brain and body active, and I’ve got the best one.”
The University of Sussex, Brighton University, Brighton Youth Centre, BIMM, Brighton Metropolitan College, DV8 and Journalist Works have all helped recruit this year’s army of Fringe volunteers. Many coming through these routes are young people looking for hands-on experience with a view to working in the arts.
Ms Hedges added: “Volunteering at the Fringe is really varied. We have roles in arts industry liaison, event assisting, stewarding, sound engineering, stage managing, marketing, office work and public information.
“Working with us really can open doors. We had a young student volunteer as a sound engineer at Fringe City last week. He was amazing and did so well that a show offered him work right there and then. He was chuffed to bits.”
Around 22 million people volunteer in the UK each year. Volunteers Week has been running since 1984 to recognise the contribution these people make to communities every day.
21.6 million (42%) people in the UK volunteer formally at least once a year and 13.8 million (27%) people do so at least once a month.
In 2012-13 volunteering output contributed an estimated £23.9billion to the UK economy. This is equivalent to over 1.5% of GDP.
There are 162,965 voluntary organisations in the UK, many of whom rely on volunteers.
Lots of volunteering also takes place within the public and private sector. For example, there are an estimated 3 million people volunteering in health and care.
Volunteers Week runs Thurs 1 – Weds 7 June. For more information visit www.volunteersweek.org
To volunteer for Brighton Fringe email [email protected]
Image by James Bellorini Photography