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Music, bric-a-brac and homemade cake - Islington's summer fair

Kathryn Grant is a member of the Islington & Hackney Amnesty Group,who held their successful summer fayre on Islington Green last weekend. She's written a guest post for us on the day, and her tips for organising your own event, whatever its size.

On 18th August, we held a summer fayre on Islington Green which raised £1000 for Amnesty. It was a fantastic day full of fun for all the family and even the sunshine came out to play! We had five bands playing live music, homemade cake, food, external stalls selling things from vintage clothes to Fair Trade Peruvian crafts and also lots of traditional stalls such as bric-a-brac, books, face painting and tombola.

The Amnesty campaign stall was busy and we had lots of information and petitions for people to get involved in. We also had a craft table where children busily got stuck into making beautiful bunting with a human rights theme. Louise Orton, Chair of IHAG, said her favourite moment was when she had to explain to a girl who Pussy Riot were, after asking people to don a balaclava to campaign against their imprisonment and the girl was so shocked that this could have happened. So we did a great job of raising the profile of the human rights issues we campaign for at Amnesty.

This was the second time we had organised the fayre and the process starts with an application to Islington Council with supporting documents such as a risk assessment and the public liability insurance certificate which you can get from Amnesty. The council was really helpful and there were plenty of emails going back and forth over the last few months. The various council departments will advise you on what you need for your event, for example Noise Control will give you ideas on keeping noise to a minimum by pointing speakers inwards.

Here are my top ten tips for organising events:

  1. Get started as soon as you can before the date as things won’t go to plan e.g. one of my food vendors failed the hygiene check by the council and it was too late to get another vendor.
  2. When things don’t go to plan, think of it as a positive if you can e.g. when we had one less food vendor we thought ‘well at least people will have less choice and buy more of our cake!’.
  3. Get as many volunteers as you can, as you always need more than you think, especially to give people breaks. If you don’t, you will be resourceful and it will work out ok but always best to have more if possible.
  4. Use your contacts – who can design the poster? Who has a van? Get as much for free as possible!
  5. Remember, there are always surprises when organising events and no event is ever perfect, but this doesn’t mean it is not a success. One of the best things is you always learn lessons which will improve your next event.
  6. Overestimate times for set up, clean up and delivering things to the site. It is always good to be prepared for hiccups.
  7. Events are ‘live’ so don’t be afraid of changing things at the last minute or even on the day if you think it will improve the event. It’s good to be flexible. We changed our stall plan on the day to maximise our profits.
  8. We made a lot of money by going round the green with a collecting tin to get donations for the free music we provided. Try to think of as many ways to raise money/awareness – whatever your goal is.
  9. Believe in yourself!
  10. And finally, celebrate your success and laugh about the hiccups!
About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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