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Things I learned volunteering with PsyCare UK: Part 2

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Written 30th August 2021 by Michael Ledden, Chairperson, PsyCare Ireland.

Shortly after arriving on site I witnessed the value of a PsyCare space simply existing at a festival.

First and foremost we provided a 24 hour safe space for people to stop by the fire, have a cup of tea, get support or ask questions about drugs safety.

The supportive value of the service came out on the Friday night as people began to take substances. The amplifying effect of psychedelics was evident, as guests showed sensitivity to stimulus from within and without.

A dynamic I frequently observed was how disharmony in a group of friends could be powerful: this common issue sent many guests to the service.

Entering the festival environment can be a rite of passage for a person or group as they embark on a mission through the weekend. When a group's harmony breaks down this can be very triggering.

Many guests spoke about friends abandoning them and how this touched on previous peer wounds from an early age.

Seeing guests process this was a privilege as I saw triggering events become opportunities to work on long cut off parts of themselves.

Without the service existing for people to get support I shudder to think what many of them would have done over the weekend. Perhaps, merely sat in their tent alone, gone home or taken more substances.

Romantic relationship issues were also common. In this charged space there were a lot of couples fighting and coming to Psycare, but also sadly some people reached out for support because they were missing relationships they no longer had or people who were no longer alive.

I saw first-hand how the revelry of the party, mixed with psychoactive drugs could really supercharge pain, wounds and grief that existed within guests.

I witnessed the truth, that a supportive space for people in these moments unquestionably improves a festival atmosphere.

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