Psycare at Body & Soul 2023
Over the weekend of June 16th - 18th, our team of volunteers headed to Ballinlough Castle to help support festival goers at Body & Soul - it was a weekend of sun, fun, and thunder and lighting for the 3500 people that made the trip to one of Ireland's most loved festivals.
With our tent pitched at the main stage, our team of 8 volunteers ran PsyCare services from 8pm - 3am on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the festival. Over the course of the weekend we supported 32 guests who came to us for assistance. We worked closely with event security and the Order of Malta medical team on-site, who alerted us when they had people present who could benefit from PsyCare support.
First time PsyCare experience
For Aimee, who completed PsyCare training in 2023, this was the first opportunity to put the teaching into practice.
"When I first attended the PsyCare training sessions, I felt a rollercoaster of emotions weaving from nervousness to excitement. I was worried that as someone who doesn't have a psychology degree or work in the therapy field, that I wouldn't be capable of volunteering with PsyCare. However, my fears were eased when we were reassured that all we needed was compassion for helping others, and a little experience supporting someone going through a difficult experience or living through one ourselves."
"What struck me once I arrived on-site for the team briefing was meeting new friendly faces and immediately feeling safe. We sat in a circle holding hands and breathing together, to ground ourselves before the weekend. It was amazing to feel that connection before we started volunteering together. I had the Friday off so I spent my evening familiarising myself with the festival and seeing some awesome bands / producers."
"My first shift at Body & Soul was nerve-wracking yet exhilarating. I'll never forget my first guest who was brought in by two concerned strangers from the rain. The guest seemed to be tripping out and having difficulty, but they wanted to dance. We held hands and danced like we were having a rave in the woods. It brought me back to holding and dancing with friends on nights out when we were all a little bit wobbly on our feet. We managed to encourage the guest to sit down comfortably. I sat with them and chatted about their time at the festival. As they spoke about their normal day-to-day life, I noticed they were beginning to come back. I couldn't believe that all I did was sit with them, hold space and let them lead."
"Later on that evening, I was asked to sit with a person who wanted to lie down and rest. Before I sat with her I asked if I could sit near them and with a smile they agreed. As with every guest, I routinely checked for movement and breathing as they rested. The guest woke up after about 45 mins and thanked me. We had a lovely conversation, and they said they were exhausted after work and needed somewhere to chill out away from the hustle and bustle of the festival. The contrast between the two guests was stark. PsyCare really caters for everyone - whether it's someone who is having a challenging time on substances or someone who finds the environment overstimulating and needs to rest."
"When we were packing everything up, I felt some sadness as the weekend had been such a bonding experience. I really got the sense of the importance of teamwork when we were dismantling the tent together. I loved how we got together before our shifts with a home-cooked meal made by the other volunteers, which dare I say it was a lot nicer than most festival food. I even enjoyed the process of washing the dishes after we ate; it really felt like a community!"