Oi are touring the UK for the first time ever from May until August.
17 events, 7 new cities, 1 manic summer.
But we couldn’t be more excited.
Last week, we set off to find the location for the Brighton Foodie Festival in what felt like 578 degrees. My pasty Irish skin welcomed it with open arms.
The sun, the beach, that iconic abandoned pier that’s in every Google image of Brighton you see – it was all in view as we set up our stall for our first summer festival.
2 girls, 1 massive bright blue van, and a whole heap of wood to build a stall for the hundreds of hats we brought with us.
This trip could only have gone one of two ways – admission into A&E or a very successful learning curve.
I’m glad to say it was the latter.
After humbly asking 3 men who were working nearby to help us grab the 4000 tonne boards and tables out of our van, and taking forever and a day to paint, stick, decorate and stack – we were finally ready.
Joining us were over 30 of the best street food stalls in the UK, with numerous bands from Musicians Against Homelessness, Toploader and The Hoosiers.
The atmosphere was electric. 30,000 people from across the UK and further a field came to tantalise their taste buds and have their ears entertained by incredible performers.
Our hope, of course, was that in the midst of all that, they would hear the Oi story.
We loved getting to meet new people and tell the concept behind Oi to people to who had never heard of us before. The words of kindness and encouragement we received were far more valuable than the sales we made.
One woman in particular made me smile. When I was telling her about the concept, and how with every purchase a warm hat will go to someone who is homeless, she got very excited. She literally jumped.
For a moment, I genuinely thought she had just found out she had won the lottery or something.
But that wasn’t it – it was the idea that a simple gift from her or a bit of her time to stop and have a conversation with someone living on the street could change a life. That's what got her more excited than a sugared up 8 year old at a sleepover.
“I absolutely love this! Why aren’t more people doing this? What a way to bring our community together!”
She left feeling inspired that even her small acts of kindness can make a monumental difference.
Another lady came in just to look at one of our information leaflets. After reading about Oi's vision for 2 minutes, she handed me a sterling note and smiled.
“I can’t afford a hat right now, but just take this. I want you to donate this to your cause. I used to work in a homeless shelter in Glasgow, and I met some of the most inspiring people there. I don’t ever want to stop helping people like that”.
I don’t think I will ever stop being inspired by the generous people we have met along the way with Oi. I hope you know what an incredible difference you are making.
That’s what excites me most about these events. The people. The conversations. The fresh ears that have yet to hear the Oi story and be inspired about what they can do to transform the vulnerable lives in their community.
So often we get asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are travelling around to so many places in the UK this summer?”
How could you not?
We loved getting to inspire you guys in Brighton with our unique business concept that gives back to society every time, and we loved getting to hear your fresh ideas in how we can do that together even more.
From events we can’t wait to return to this year, to making new friends and new places, we cannot wait to keep spreading the vision of Oi and rewrite homelessness with you guys across the UK over the next few months.
But our adventures are only beginning, and we would love to keep you updated.
Check out our weekly blog posts right here to find out what we’re up to from city to city, and look out for our Instagram stories and posts to see if we’re coming to an event near you!
Together, let’s rewrite homelessness for good.
- Judy Shaw