#Upfest2018: Volunteer Kate’s Blog


Nacoa volunteers donated over 1,000 volunteer hours at Europe’s largest urban art festival, Upfest, helping to raise awareness and funds for those affected by their parent’s drinking.

Over 35,000 people visited Bristol to witness 400+ artists painting live across 40 venues. Paintings ranged from intricate treatments on board at Bedminster’s tranquil St Francis Church to the 40-foot Lisa Simpson mural by Nomad Clan (painted with the use of a crane) that now adorns the side of Bristol’s Tobacco Factory.

Nacoa plays an integral role in the planning and operation of Upfest, and our colourfully t-shirted volunteers are conspicuous all over the festival. We marshall the event’s many locations, ensuring safety, speaking about Nacoa with visitors from around the world, as well as generating funds through programme sales and donations.

This year’s blog post summing up their experience of volunteering at the festival comes from a new volunteer, Kate, who came to Nacoa because of her own experiences of parental alcohol problems.

Kate’s Blog

Hi! I am Kate, from Bristol and am 28. In July this year I signed up to volunteer with Nacoa at Upfest which is Bristol’s Urban Art Festival – it’s completely free to attend and it raises tens of thousands for Nacoa every year, this year was its 10thYear.

As a complete newbie to volunteering I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to spend the weekend helping out with Nacoa at Upfest. What I did find were a wonderful group of people of all ages, giving up their valuable weekend time to raise money for this fantastic cause.

The reason I first got involved with Nacoa is because my Dad was an alcoholic for almost 12 years before he passed away and I wish I had known about the charity when I was growing up. I was in charge of the children’s painting, making sure there was enough paper and paints, we even had our very own version of Upfest where all the children’s paintings were hung to dry.

So many highlights from the weekend, I got to collaborate on a jigsaw piece with a little girl, after a long conversation about my favourite Pokemon (its Pikachu in case you were wondering), a little boy painted me one (below) a little boy roared so hard after having his face painted as a lion that he toppled back and starting giggling to himself and I got to eat some very yummy cakes.

On a more serious note I spoke to so many people that had some experience with alcoholism, whether it was adults whose parents were alcoholic’s or parents whose child had. We had talks about how there is a lack of help in schools and just how common it is. I am very open about my childhood and my Dad’s illness however I was truly taken aback by just how many people responded with ‘me too’, ‘ditto’, or ‘my mum/dad was the same’ it’s just not something people talk about in an open environment.

Come Sunday evening I was needless to say, exhausted, head to toe covered in paint and with such an amazing feeling that I had made a little difference.

What I would say if anyone is thinking of volunteering with Nacoa then go for it, it’ll be hard work but it will be so worth it. I received a lovely message post festival thanking me for my efforts and it almost brought a tear to my eye. The picture below sums up my weekend!