I'd like to tell you about something really positive. On Friday 5th May, I did a small show for an organisation called Sod This. It is an organisation that shouts, literally, 'sod this!' to homelessness. Now, I don't know what the situation is like in other parts of the country, but here in the northwest, homelessness has sky-rocketed in recent years.
Image: Francesca Perry
I used to live down off Oxford Road in Manchester. Anybody who has been down there in recent times will know that Oxford Road is a hive of student activity and represents an amazing melting-pot of education, culture and diversity within Manchester. It is also notable for the number of beggars and rough sleepers that are unfortunately considered a nuisance and a general danger and inconvenience to the massive student population that live and study in that area.
Just before I left the area, a make-shift camp, raised by beggars with donations of tents, blankets and food supplies, had been torn down by authorities. Probably, owing to the unofficial nature of the tiny town that had sprung up on what was likely university property. But it was a peaceful protest. It seemed safe, for the homeless residents and the students alike, it appeared that for once, there was a community ethos of help, support and mutual understanding that had allowed a few homeless people to settle somewhere without causing offence. It was proving to be an attraction in the area. But a few weeks after it sprung up, it disappeared. It's possible that the people who built it are still homeless and a little worse off than they were before, knowing that their attempt to build some semblance of stability was thwarted.
This is why organisations like Sod This are so important. Sod This arrange a variety of shows and events around the country to help local charities to raise money and awareness of homelessness. On Friday 5th May, in collaboration with two local charities, Sod This put on a show at the new 53two arts club, Manchester. The two collaborating charities were Coffee for Craig and The Booth Centre, two charities working hard to care for those on the streets. I was privileged to be asked to go along and sing a few songs at the Sod This event.
Image: Francesca Perry
I'd never heard of 53two before, it's new, and is positioned in a space under the railway arches behind two of Manchester's most iconic venues, Manchester Central (GMEX), and The Bridgewater Hall. It's a space for about 150 people and it was full for the Sod This event. I was so proud to be a part of it, and proud that so many people had turned up to support the cause. I think the turnout was a statement of the growing concern about how many rough sleepers there are in places like Manchester and Liverpool.
I hope I did a bit to help, and I hope that charities like Coffee for Craig and the Booth Centre continue to find the funds and support they need to help alleviate this growing problem. Both charities and Sod This are doing a great job and I just wanted to help spread the word, because they are giving time and support to so many of the people who live on our streets.
If you want to know more about these amazing organisations, here are some links: