Mud, hail and flooding . . . a great weekend at the Greenbelt festival!
We’ve just returned from The Children’s Society’s second year at Greenbelt.
This year we tried to make our stall a home away from home, complete with comfy sofas, pot plants and my mum’s old telly. We wanted a comfortable place for people to sit and chat about our Make Runaways Safe campaign and what 'home' means for the 100,000 children who run away from home every year.
Unlike most homes, ours had a river of mud flowing through it and had to be closed for several hours while the fire brigade checked the electrics.
Regardless, our dedicated team of volunteers carried on and hundreds of festivalgoers joined our campaign. We’re calling on local authorities to help make young runaways safe by signing up to the Runaways Charter.
Campaigning creatively through drawing, cross-stitch and music
Festival goers got creative in a workshop run by Craftivism, combining craft, cross-stitch and activism to change the world one stitch at a time.
We were also treated to a fantastic performance from the Berkeley Ensemble, who used the story of Hansel and Gretel to make us think about young runaways.
Our full programme of events also included a panel debate on welfare, children’s picnic worship and a talk asking 'Are runaways just time-wasters?'. (I missed the latter, but I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘No!’)
Hundreds of children joined in our art competition and made pictures of what paradise means to them. It was touching how many drew their family and friends, or the festival itself, and more touching still to compare their answers with what paradise means to young runaways. For many of these young people, paradise is just a safe place to call home.
My favourite competition entry, though, was the one simply called 'Mud'. The young artist certainly seemed to enjoy the weather, judging from the state of his wellies. And clothes. And face, for that matter.
Even with the ankle-deep mud, the festival was still great fun. Thank you so much to everybody who brightened the weekend by coming to talk to us about our work, the weather and where to get the best chocolate brownie (Pru’s Café).
And thank you for your amazing response to our campaign. Over 500 people signed up to help make runaways safe. If you have not joined in, please do so today on our Make Runaways Safe website. Thank you!
By Sophie Brightwell, Church Partnerships Coordinator
Drawn to home
This is one of my favourite drawings of what a child thinks of when she thinks of paradise.