For 50 years, The Salvation Army in Reading has attended the annual Richard Avenue music festival, providing refreshments and rest from the activity and noise that naturally come with these events.
Stuart Scott first had the idea of setting up shop at the festival with the intention of providing an oasis of calm and a helping hand to anyone who needed it. His vision carries on through his daughter, Hayley Scott, a volunteer who has helped The Salvation Army’s presence at the festival adapt and change with the times.
“Over the years it’s grown bigger and we’ve adapted. It used to be we’d offer soup and a roll, now we have hot drinks, water, sweet treats. We keep the prices affordable. Any profit made goes back to the Reading Central Corps and into the community to make up food and Christmas parcels.
“If someone has no money, we can give them food and a drink. We have spare tents, towels and blankets,” said Hayley.
A touching tribute
Festival organisers wanted to pay tribute to Stuart Scott and the vision that he brought to life. So, they named one of the streets Scott Street and, fittingly, this is where The Salvation Army’s team of volunteers set up their site.
The role is demanding, as the church and charity operates on a 24-hour basis throughout the festival from Tuesday to the following Monday. A team of 40 volunteers work in shifts to ensure support and other services are available whenever anyone needs them.
Hayley said, “We had tables and chairs set up in the marquee. Festivals can be overwhelming so we are somewhere calm where people can come and relax. It was a peace haven.”
Embracing technology, The Salvation Army’s team in Reading used a QR code, with links back to the Reading Central Corps.
Hayley added that the QR code included links and and signposts to mental health charities, debt advisors, domestic abuse helplines and the Salvation Army website.
“Whatever the problem is we will try and help and if we can’t help, we will find someone who can,” Hayley said.
On a final note, Hayley was excited to add, “It’s a great atmosphere. You can tell people have had a year off as they are so happy to be back!”