> A festival like Brisfest requires the time and dedication of many to ensure its success. For those who attend it’s a three day event. However, for those who organise the festival it’s a huge project that spans months. Westerneye’s very own Lucia Dobson-Smith helped organise this year’s event…

Volunteering consumes both time and energy and giving away either for free is no easy call. The Bristol Festival Community Group, the charity who organise Brisfest, are almost entirely run by volunteers, and with so many people involved they must be doing something right.  In July I joined that group of volunteers for what was set to be a nine week part-time placement.

I was assigned the role of Press Officer for the festival, as I was particularly interested in gaining experience in PR and dealing with the press. My task was to ensure that Brisfest gained as much coverage as possible through contact and exchanges with a huge variety of culture and media organisations and individuals.

It was quite a responsibility, and often stressful, but I felt a strange sort of rapport with the spirit of the festival, and the sheer enthusiasm that drives those who put it all together, it is certainly an infectious enthusiasm.

The majority of my workload consisted of making contacts with various organisatations, and writing press releases and articles announcing, advertising and promoting various aspects of the festival.  It was occasionally daunting to make contact with some top media professionals, but after the first twenty phone calls, it’s as easy as calling your granny.

As a student of Journalism and English, I was asked for my expertise in journalistic matters, and to proof the work of others. I was also allowed the space to develop my own ideas on press strategy.  I found that I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Often, working on a summer placement can be a bit demoralising.  You enter, most of the time quite understandably, at the bottom of the ladder. It was genuinely surprising to work with an organisation that places a good deal of trust in the experience and knowledge of all of its members, even those that are only there for a limited period of time on a placement, or those working on a voluntary basis.

All the hard work paid off when I visited the site during the festival and watched the thousands of visitors pouring in. I really felt like I had made a contribution and it definitely felt worth it. Some things are worth much more than money.