Reflections of a Be Free Festival Volunteer

“People who’s lives are too controlled…..”

This week we hosted the #BeFree16 Festival.  As I sit this evening still unpacking the equipment I have many images passing through my mind – magical moments of people exploring new opportunities and meeting new people.  Then, Bev, one of our incredible team of 30 Festival volunteers posted her reflections on Be Free.  I was so moved by her insight that I wanted to share it here so now……over to Bev Carter.


“Morning after Be Free Festival and reflecting on totally amazing experiences with such beautifully spirited people.

I’ve laughed so much and cried too, like when I saw what it meant to the recipients of the ‘golden gnome’ awards. Witnessing their sheer joy and pride and the roar of congrats from the audience will stay with me forever. So many special moments…but those that top it have to be… time spent with Eileen. When she saw me struggling carrying the festival decorations she hatched a plan to position them on her mobile scooter and ride beside me. Loved Vincent’s and Isaac’s just slightly alcohol induced Be Free double act on stage and late night silent disco craziness.

Art creations danced around Be Free in every corner and space to pamper the eye and tell everyone they were at a FESTIVAL, with music and a stage that threw sound out to those near and far, engineered by Steve. Wonderful to see Ije (my daughter) perform with some festival goers dancing along. Liz, Lore, Sally, Jo and Colin didn’t stop…just totally dedicated to making sure everyone had the best time possible. Am so grateful to have been a part of it and aim to help raise funds for Be Free 2017!


This is a festival for people with additional needs to be able to stay up late, be free, meet new people and not be judged. One woman said ‘this is the best holiday I have ever been on’. Another couple camped in their back garden for weeks leading up to the festival to be prepared and confident for Be Free!

This has all been run on 1.5 paid staff members and the rest is from the support of volunteers.  I am totally convinced this is not just a ‘nice to have’ experience, this is absolutely essential to people who’s lives are too controlled by restrictions on the hours when resources and carer support can be provided. They should have the right to go out after dark, go to a gig, a pub, an evening walk if and when they want to.

Be Free enabled people to have this experience. Now Paradigm need to secure funding for next year. I aim to do my bit to help make this possible!!! Any ideas, please get in touch. Thanks for reading!!! Didnt know I was going to go on so much. I’ve been moved and shaken into action!!”

It’s Sally again here!  As part of the #BeFree16 festival goers created the Great 8 essential skills for great support.   Some powerful ideas and an energetic vote will ensure that #Gr8Support2Day is launched soon!

If you want to see more about Be Free have a look on our Facebook page

Here’s to #BeFree17!!


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