How it took 40,000 people to teach me what I already knew.
“How did you end up organising a village-wide festival for 40,00 people?”
That’s a question I’ve been asked a lot recently. My answer is normally to say that they offered me free beer but, as you can imagine, there’s a lot more to it than that.
There were a number of reasons I got involved but If you had asked me what I thought I would gain from it at the start I wouldn’t have realised just how much I would learn from the experience.
The festival has been running for a number of years but this year it was by a completely new team of directors. Though we differed in opinion on various points, the one thing we all agreed was paramount was the safety of everyone involved.
So where do you start when you want to ensure the safety of that number of people over a weekend while ensuring a fun event that can be enjoyed by all?
A good risk assessment document is a life saver, literally. Having a clear guide to work from considering all the areas where people could be at risk and how to minimise both the risk and impact is essential. The previous partnership had done a great job with that document which made it much easier but as the event has grown and with the additions that we brought to the festival there was still a lot more to add and consider.
We went through the plans, making adjustments to allow for our changes and additions. We thought we had it all covered and had clear plans and responsibilities in the event that things did go wrong.
We had covered all the likely impacts to all festival goes, traders and performers. We had a solid and robust plan and an understanding of who was responsible for each part of the festival. Despite all that, there was still something huge we missed.
What we missed
Despite all that planning and preparation we were still expecting to learn a lot to make next year better. To our delight everything went incredibly smoothly and there were very few first aid incidents other than a few wasp stings and a twisted ankle. Everyone seemed to have a great time, we got lots of really positive feedback and praise for how well the event was run.
That said there was one huge potential impact that we hadn’t fully considered to begin with.
The mental wellbeing of the organisers.
Running an event of this size with limited experience and ‘challenging’ village politics was no easy feat and there were definitely opportunities for personal development throughout the process. Luckily, as a psychotherapist and mindset coach I was well placed to offer support and education regarding positive mental wellbeing.
I found myself offering support on the day such as on-the-spot confidence coaching for the live radio interviews broadcast from the festival and helping a festival-goer to avoid an anxiety attack. Before and during the event I offered general stress management advice and support for the organisers. This highlighted how vital this part of health and safety is.
My Biggest Lesson
Ask someone to describe what health and safety is all about and most people will talk about the potential risks to people’s physical health. The biggest thing I learned from my involvement in organising such a huge event is how important it is to consider the mental health of all of those involved too. It’s a lesson I already understood in theory but was made so much clearer when put into practice.
Does your business consider mental wellbeing as part of your duty of care to your employees and customers?
If you would like to know more about what you can do for yourself and in your business to support positive mental wellbeing, please get in touch with Duncan via www.mindaffinity.co.uk.
07840 829 758
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