Kudos to the community: the Purley Festival is here!

By - Tuesday 25th June, 2013

Tara Green explains how the week of celebration at the Purley Festival is brought to life by an army of talented and dedicated volunteers

For the third year in a row, the Purley Festival is underway. The Mayor arrived yesterday to officially open the festival, kicking off a week of fun and hi-jinx. Thousands of local people will take part in the festival in all sorts of ways this week,  the social media channels will be full of its stories and pictures, and the local papers will be covering its events. And as with any event like this, there is an unseen story behind the events of the Purley Festival week itself, because a small army of local people has made it happen.

Isn’t it amazing what a group of people can do when they get together? Worker-bee style, each person looks after their little cell of the whole. They choose the part they work on based on their skills, passion, or work experience. No one person would be able to do everything. No one person would want to do everything! There are IT and technical jobs to be done, social jobs to be done, financial and business jobs to be done. There are organisational roles to be carried out and logistical jobs to be planned and executed. Someone has to be in charge of the vision for the whole: someone else has to be responsible for the strategy that will make the vision a reality. There are the worker bees who like to help but are more comfortable when being told what to do, and there are others who take on the responsibilities of leadership and give those people their to-do list.

All of the people who create and deliver the Purley Festival are volunteers. Every single person who has done each and every job has given their time, work, and expertise for free. Services have to be bought in of course, such as printing, security, and toilets, but these bring a great sense of responsibility to those involved as volunteers, as the money has to be raised to pay the bills for those services. So who are these people? Do they have independent fortunes and time on their hands? Do they have nothing better to do? They wish!

We are lucky, in Croydon, to be able to say that the Purley Festival is one amongst a wealth of community-led projects in the borough

Many of the Purley Festival volunteers and organizers have full time jobs or run their own businesses. A large number of them are parents and a large minority of these have babies. Most of the volunteers have a family to look after, a home to run, and a social life to fit in. And yet, they find the time to create the festival. So why do they do it?

At the final pre-festival meeting of the organizers, I asked this question to a few of their number. Why do you do this? Why was it set up in the first place and what is important about the Purley Festival to all of you? One thing is clear: these people enjoy working together. Each has their own area of responsibility but all feed back into the group as a whole. Running anything by committee entails compromise, discussion, and disagreement, and these things occur. Each member of the group is important but none is indispensable, so the ebb and flow of ideas and involvement allows flexibility and change to be subsumed and moved beyond. Creativity was mentioned as a reason for working in and on the project, as was working with people with the energy to commit to something and to get stuff done. All were keen to create the event for the local community to enjoy, but also as a means of showcasing the rich source of talent and resources available in the local community. And now that the festival and the team who provide it are reaching maturity, there is a new and exciting facet that will become apparent in its future offerings: it can become outward facing and give even more. They are wondering, for example, how the skills of local young people can be developed via the festival.

We are lucky, in Croydon, to be able to say that the Purley Festival is one amongst a wealth of community-led projects in the borough. We are a community-spirited bunch. Both our local and wider communities are served as the visions of the projects are played-out. And in this coming week, as the Purley Festival runs from the 24th – 30th June, a jolly good time had by all is thrown into the bargain.

The Purley Festival is on now until Sunday 30th June. Check out all of the events organised by Tara and her fellow volunteers here.

Tara Green

Tara Green

Tara Green is a mum of three and wife of one, parenting blogger and coach, hoping that no one will notice that she's learning the craft of raising kids whilst on the job. Specialist life coach for children and parents, providing individual sessions and group workshops. Parenting columnist for the Croydon Advertiser. Find out more at www.theparentinggeek.com

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  • Anne Giles

    Great article. We saw Monterey Pop last night. Hoping to come at the week-end.

    • Tara Green

      Thanks Anne. Pop up to the children’s area and say hello if you’re there this year. It’s about time I met you!

      • Anne Giles

        Will do.

  • Stephanie Darkes

    great blog tara xx

    • Tara Green

      Thank you Steph x
      I hope you have an amazing time at the festival. You do amazing work for it.

  • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

    I love that it’s a big example of the
    community and the whole croydon community coming together to provide what the council can’t and m give us. I was thrilled as a thornton resident to be asked to contribute ideas for the decoration of the Matthews Yard area. I hope more people across town are inspired to start similar events even if they are on a smaller scale as our town needs entertainment and fine food to make it a destination that people want to visit. It was my 1st year attending and I was definitely impressed.

  • Wendy Ager

    Love this – sums it up really well. Thanks x