Sanctum - stageExtract from an interview with Mark by the fresh expressions team                                                One of our favourite places to be is the Bloodstock Open Air Metal Festival in Derby where we run the welfare tent. Billed as the UK’s No1 heavy metal event, the festival this year hosted about 80 bands across three stages.

"Basically we look after anyone who is not in need of hospitalisation or under threat of arrest. Some people lose their tents for one reason or another, for instance. We’re just there 24 hours a day for whenever people a helping hand or a chat or a safe space to recover from a little over indulgence. Lots of people come back to visit us year on year.

I often wear my dog collar while wandering around the site. The collar offers instant identification and people seem to be fine with it. I have not been burned at the stake yet so it must be OK. Bloodstock does tend to focus on the darker side of metal, and there are some openly satanic bands though there is a huge range of music. It is fantastic opportunity to be involved. In some respects heavy metal music was a kind of retaliation against Christianity, more culturally than anything else, because the Church was seen as a nice middle-class society. The more uncomfortable people feel about Church, the more it is seen as a target and the more extreme the opposing views become
Sanctum -  tents
I see myself as very much part of that heavy metal community because it's a community I have grown up with since I was 14. It's like the village I grew up in if you like - something you just jump into and get involved in as much as possible.

Sanctum - big top

A friend invited me to see Saxon, my first gig, at the age of 12. I had a really strong sense of gathered community, of not feeling like the odd one out. I recognised the acceptance, the brotherhood of it all and knew I wanted to be part of it.
I really pray that in this new community (OBS) that many others will feel that sense of acceptance and brotherhood through being part of a very different form of church.

I've been working with a community that is centred on music, skateboarding etc. People dress in black and hang around on street corners looking frightening (to some). These people I call my friends. I am promoting a form of church that is natural and welcoming to people who wouldn’t be able to walk into a normal church building or service and 'get it' straight away."

If you are at Bloodstock this year pop in to welfare and say hello! (even if you don't need looking after)