St Christopher’s Hospice provides high-quality medical care and continued social integration and support for those at the end of their lives. Due to their terminal conditions, members of the Young Adults group typically have a number of advanced disabilities, meaning that most of them are wheel-chair bound, so need support to move about, and to carry out some day-to-day activities. However, like all young people, they enjoy the chance to go out, take part in outdoor activities, and attend concerts and festivals. As part of the Jack Petchey Foundation's 15th Anniversary Crystal Award Grant Scheme, St Christopher's Hospice received a £6000 donation to fund a special trip for the Young Adults group. With help from this donation, they were able to join 36,000 other festival goers at Charlton Park in Wiltshire for a weekend of over 200 performances by 90 artists from 49 countries at this year’s World of Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival.
The trip to WOMAD took place over a long weekend at the end of July 2016, but preparing for it took months of hard work beforehand, including extensive risk assessments, arranging travel, preparing volunteers, packing equipment, and all the other details needed to make sure the trip could go ahead safely.
On the morning of Friday 29th July, the group set off in a hired “Jumbulance”, a specially designed and charitably funded coach, run by volunteers and equipped to support passengers with advanced medical needs. Once the group arrived at the campsite, they were shown to their specially set up tent, provided by Festival Spirit, a charity which helps disabled people access music festivals. The huge tent had its own flooring, electrical supply, and room for ten cubicles with electrical sockets for ventilators and beds for patients and carers, which could be curtained off for privacy. There was also room for the accompanying carers and volunteers.
The festival was an amazing experience for the young people, with an electric and friendly atmosphere. Many of the young adults were able to enjoy being on a night out for the first time and were blown away by the acts and entertainment they saw. Volunteers and carers were nearby all weekend, however the young people were free to go out and enjoy themselves – which they all did, most nights staying out until four o'clock in the morning! Away from home, they were able to let loose and enjoy the alternative and ‘anything goes’ atmosphere, with music, food, performances, and activities from cultures all around the world.
Here’s what Nick had to say about his WOMAD experience:
“I had several highlights throughout the weekend. Meeting volunteers from the Saturday group at the hospice for the first time, all the staff at Festival Spirit, festival go-ers, and even musicians. On Saturday I enjoyed seeing Sidestepper perform, who I had a photo opportunity with later that afternoon. And Sunday late evening to early Monday morning at 4:00AM with Ravi (a young adult group attendee)! I even met Diabel Cissokho which was unexpected but looking back, WOMAD is definitely a place where you end up meeting and having conversations with musicians and performers. Very family-orientated, very civilised with a great music festival vibe. The music varying from bizarre, to Paddy Steer, to Mongolian throat singing, right up to George Clinton. If you're passionate about music, WOMAD will fill your ears with an eclectic blend of world music. If you get the chance, go!
It's an experience that I thought was simply impossible before. But St. Christopher’s made it possible... All the donors who were involved made it possible! For me it's an unforgettable experience. I could go as so far as saying life-changing!”
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