Charity finds most tents left at Electric Picnic unusable

Video of festival campsite shows sea of tents with abandoned seats, clothes and litter

Archive 2016: After the revelers leave the cleanup begins, charities salvage through the thousands of tents abandoned at this year's Electric Picnic. Video: The Jacket Off Your Back

 

The vast majority of tents left behind at Electric Picnic were unusable by a charity which had appealed for concert-goers to donate them to Syrian refugees.

The Jacket Off Your Back charity, which had appealed for Electric Picnic-goers to donate their tents and sleeping bags to it - before remarking that many tents smelled of urine - has said it did not mean to offend donors.

Charity organiser Kevin Kelly put out the call for revellers to leave their tents and sleeping bags folded for collection.

The sleeping bags were destined for homeless people in Ireland, while the tents were intended for refugees - mainly Syrians - in camps in Greece.

He later published a video online of thousands of abandoned tents, with the words: “Omg the smell of piss, drink and muck is unreal, it looks like Idomeni [refugee camp in Greece] without the refugees.”

‘Terrible abuse’

“I got terrible abuse,” he said. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone - these are people we will be relying on for support in coming years and the campsite wasn’t anything worse than it would have been 20 years ago, but it is no better.

“I suppose people were not doing anything we didn’t do a generation ago.”

That said, Mr Kelly’s video has been viewed more than 165,000 times in the 24 hours since Monday afternoon.

It shows a sea of abandoned belongings, with many hundreds of multi-coloured tents still pitched, surrounded by chairs and with the ground well covered with clothes, plastic bottles and litter.

In one scene, two charity volunteers are seen taking down tents one by one and folding them up.

Mr Kelly said the charity collected about 300 tents in all, but many, although clearly new, were in too poor a condition to be reused. Several thousand sleeping bags will be washed and donated to the homeless in Ireland.

Next week the tents will be part of a container-load of aid including 15,000 pairs of shoes which the charity is sending to Idomeni refugee camp.

Mr Kelly said the video and following comments could still be accessed on the jacketoffyourback Facebook page.

Jacket Off Your Back is the name of a project Mr Kelly, his wife Sue “Purple” Kelly and fellow worker Emily Deveraux started at the end of November 2015.

The aim is to keep homeless people warm during the winter as migrants try to make their way to Europe.

“These people are unprepared and beginning to walk from the borders. In the weeks that it takes to get to these countries, winter will be closing in and people will freeze,” he said.

Organise collections

“Our aim now is to organise collections for quality clothes, sleeping bags, personal hygiene products and first aid supplies, to prepare 50,000 emergency survival packs to be ready for delivery on the ground.”

Those who wish to help may visit jacketoffyourback.com or Facebook.com/jacketoffyourback where the video may still be seen.

Mr Kelly said despite the battering he got on social media, the controversy had helped raise awareness of the charity.