Festival Republic – the organisers behind Reading and Leeds festivals – have formed a drug outreach campaign with local councils. The campaign will be launched at both events at the end of August. Artists such as Stormzy, Post Malone, Mabel and slowthai are scheduled to perform at the festivals.
The move is partly motivated by the tragic death of Anya Buckley, a 17-year-old who died in August 2019 at Leeds festival after taking a number of illegal drugs.
Following the removal of restrictions at UK music events in July, two drug-related deaths in nightclubs have been reported, causing the authorities, venues, organisations and the press to urgently promote nightlife safety.
Under the name Look Out For Each Other, the new Reading and Leeds initiative will strive to shed more light on the risks of drug use, mixing drugs and alcohol, the importance of staying hydrated if doing so, as well as drawing attention to a potential decrease in tolerance following prolonged club closures. Animations will be shared via social media and on large screens at both festivals over the weekends they’re taking place, and a brand new drug advisory point is set to be installed at Leeds.
Whether or not drug testing will be available is yet to be confirmed. Organisations such as Volteface and The Loop, which both specialise in drug safety and harm reduction, have advocated for drug testing in order to minimise the risks of drug consumption.
In 2016, Secret Garden Party festival and The Loop pioneered a drug testing service for its attendees. And a study carried out by Durham University that same year found that drug-related hospital admissions were down 95 per cent after onsite testing at Secret Garden Party.