Volunteering at Sci-Fi London

By Sue Griffiths

I rarely make it to the Sci-Fi London film festival so this year was a refreshing change - I finally - finally! - got around to volunteering! I know a number of people who volunteer and having helped out at events in the past, and then having been told how enjoyable volunteering was, I knew I wanted to give it a go.

My first shift was on a Thursday evening and I had to ensure they knew I would be a little late due to work, which thankfully did not prove to be a problem. I was provided with a T-shirt and a lanyard and then set about making sure I knew the layout of the area. I was nervous as I was so new to it all and was able to turn the nerves into a whole lot of bounce which was just what I needed when I was handing out posters, manning the front desk, putting up standing in one of the auditoriums, making sure things looked organised and getting to know the other volunteers.

The Thursday was also the first night of the event itself and there was a drinks reception which was a great big challenge for me as I would have loved a glass of wine… but volunteers couldn't drink on duty! However, it was made up for by seeing some welcome, familiar faces that evening and welcoming them into the auditorium was great fun. I behaved myself all evening, wine wise, I am pleased to say, and a cup of coffee was just as tasty… honest! It was welcome not needing to worry about the journey home as, thanks to the Jubilee line, I knew I could get home alright. It was a different story during the tube strike when I was once again a bit late for my shift given the length of time it took me to board the Jubilee line and get to Stratford… sitting at the information desk was welcome as I got to help out with the event and to rest my feet as well!

My biggest challenge was volunteering at the all nighter which started at 23:00 - I had no idea whether I would be able to handle it but like a challenge so away I went. I was very pleased that coffee was available through the night and amazed that I managed to stay up all night! There were breaks between the movies being shown where the attendees could avail themselves of energy drinks and snacks. This was another time when I saw some familiar faces and doubt I could have lasted the night watching moves… but being on hand as a volunteer was much more up my street!

The volunteers had a list of when each movie ended so we could be primed to provide sustenance to intrepid movie goers. The last job of the night (morning!) was to clean up the cinema, which was a bit of a challenge as I was really feeling the tiredness… I was very glad of some coffee to keep me functioning! I had bought a ticket for the Sci-Fi costume parade later on the Sunday but I had to admit defeat and spend the day recovering. It felt great having made it through the night and done something to help the event along.

There was one event I made it to as a punter and that was the Sci-Fi London pub quiz - in a cinema auditorium and not actually a pub, but there was a choice of beer and wine and this time I could drink as I wasn't on duty! I was running a bit late when I got there and was glad of familiar faces and joined one of the LOTNA teams. My team might not have had LOTNA in the name (we were "The Clueless Avengers") but I think I'm safe in saying that everyone knew where we were every second and fourth Saturday of the night! Much to our surprise we came third!

Having never actually volunteered at a film festival before, it made refreshing change from what I was used to and I was glad of more experienced volunteers being around to ask questions of. Above all, it was great fun, which I think I proved by my answer to the question of whether I would volunteer again - my response was a wholehearted yes!

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