A Raised Fist & A Helping Hand

Isolation Fest 2020. A virtual festival

SATURDAY APRIL 11th (noon to midnight)
Musicians playing live from their homes direct to your homes to help those who don’t have homes. 

As the Corvid-19 virus leads to gig cancellations across the country – including many We Shall Overcome gigs – at the front line things are getting even tougher.

Our friend Pauline Town has housed almost 400 people and on a daily basis is feeding and supporting 60 homeless people. She also supports many other people such as those with mental health issues and lonely isolated older people. This is all from her pub The Station in Ashton-Under-Lyne.  She relies on her We Shall Overcome family to play gigs that raise the money she needs to feed people.  With official government advice to avoid pubs things just got a whole lot harder. So that’s where we step in.

Isolation Fest 2020 is a virtual festival with a simple aim – to get money direct to Pauline. We’ve assembled a stellar line up of what would likely be a £40-60 ticket and it’s all happening online for free. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/we-shall-overcome-2020


WSO started in May 2015 as a response from the music community to the worst excesses of austerity. Since then our organisers have run more than 1100 gigs raising an estimated £500,000 worth of food, cash, warm clothing and toiletries for food banks, homeless outreach, soup kitchens, crisis centres, youth projects and refugee support, every penny of which went straight to the front line.

It is an 12-hour online festival run through a Facebook group here- WSO ISOLATION FESTIVAL- SAT APRIL 11th 2020– where you can see 30+ artists perform in their homes from midday to midnight on Saturday April 11th.

We raise our help at gigs, and thanks to Covid-19 there aren’t any. Our main hub in Ashton-under-Lyne provides 60 packed lunches per day to Greater Manchester’s homeless as well as working 24/7 to provide shelter for some very vulnerable people. We are running a GoFundMe page for voluntary donations and we ask you help if you can.

From midday on Saturday April 11th we will have 20 minute sets from each artist, and when their stage time comes they will become the pinned post at the top of the group. When they finish, their post will be unpinned and the next act will take ‘the stage’. All you need to do is put the kettle on and enjoy music from our kitchen to yours.

No. Because we haven’t tried it yet. But when we do, and if it works, we will happily share the mechanics of it so that you can run similar events while we are in lockdown.

You join the group. Everything will happen in there. And at midday on Saturday April 11th, you turn up and cheer us on while we try to build bridges up and down the land and raise spirits in these darkest of days.  If you can afford to donate some money that’s all the better, but the event is free to all.


A4 POSTER (to download – right click and ‘save as’)



HOW IT WORKS GRAPHIC (to download – right click and ‘save as’)

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SQUARE SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHIC (for twitter/instagram – to download – right click and ‘save as’)




T, Shirts, Mugs and Tote  bags are now available with our new 2020 “pub sign” design. Huge thanks to Steve Nevard of Re:loaded Teeshirts for taking this on for us.

Steve is working at cost prices so a huge percentage of each sale will go to the cause.

T-Shirts are £20  (60% of that goes to WSO) + £2.90 postage
Mugs are £7  (49% of that goes to WSO) + £2.90 postage
Totes are £5 (50% of that goes to WSO) + £1.50 postage

If WSO organisers want to bulk buy (minimum order 20 tee-shirts) or even discuss bespoke additions to the T-Shirt (for example your area/ event name on the back) please email Steve to discuss on wsotshirts@protonmail.com or call 07739502370

At the end of the year all the money collected will be divided between WSO Ashton (the incredible work of Pauline Town) and some WSO causes close to Steve in Devon.


New Joe Solo EP raising money for WSO

We Shall Overcome founder Joe Solo has released the ‘We Shall Overcome EP’, a seven-track CD/Download of old protest songs, the proceeds from which will be donated to We Shall Overcome causes tackling poverty and homelessness in the UK.

The EP features Rebekah Findlay on fiddle and vocal, The Hatfield Brigade and Commoners Choir.  Joe talks about his song choices in his blog here  and explained, “The songs have mostly passed through the hands of Pete Seeger over the years,” says Joe, “but The Men They Couldn’t Hang‘s 1986 classic ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’ is there too and a massive thank you to Paul Simmonds for his permission to use it for the cause.”

This release will raise funds for Joe’s #NotOnOurWatchCampaign helping people bridge the gap when the money runs out. “I hope to keep lights on, homes warm, and food on the table for folks who would otherwise be sat cold and hungry in the dark” said Joe.

You can stream/download the EP here


WSO celebrated at museum event

We Shall Overcome kicked off it’s 5th year in style this week, with a celebration event at the national museum for democracy. “Meet the movement” was held at the People’s History Museum in Manchester as part of their ‘Radical lates’ season of events. The museum celebrates “ideas worth fighting for” and has a large collection items that tell the story of the fight for democracy and the history of the labour and trade union movement.

A packed room heard about the origins of We Shall Overcome from host Matt Hill. He then interviewed WSO organisers Pauline Town (Ashton-Under-Lyne) and Val Colvin (Liverpool). Pauline spoke about the rising levels of violence and hate crimes against people who find themselves street homeless and why a cuddle and a chat are a critical part of the support she gives in Ashton. Val explained how in Liverpool there were many excellent organisations already working in homelessness so they have focused their efforts on helping families living in poverty, for example with buying school uniforms for kids.

The audience watched a series of short films showing the range of activities and arts that have happened over the past few years across the country and a special performance “Live from the shed” of Joe Solo. Keeping in the spirit of WSO there was also live entertainment. Poetry from 3/4 of the guys from Bard Company and Lytisha Tunbridge, plus songs from Gerry O’Gorman, Tony Harper and ending with host Matt Hill leading the room in singing We Shall Overcome.

#WSO2019 T-Shirt Now Available

2019 ShirtSticker

Delighted to announce the brand new official We Shall Overcome t-shirt for #WSO2019 has just been launched by Philosophy Football and is available via their website on this link:


The design by the brilliant Marcus Henfrey is, we think, the best yet and although the clothes horse could be a little less worn around the edges, here’s our Joe doing his best to model it.

Joe in T-Shirt

As ever a donation from each shirt will go to the front line in the fight against austerity. Our five-year relationship with Philosophy Football has raised a four-figure sum to this end off the back of shirt sales, and it’s great to have their support as our fifth campaign starts to grind up the gears.

WSO events are happening all year now, so please keep an eye on the gig guide for one near you and get out there and support it.

We need as many people to join this fight as we can.


original wso roundel logo

We Shall Overcome just hit the magic 1000 events mark!!!
Together, hundreds of people up and down this land and beyond have organised ONE THOUSAND gigs since October 2015. Each was run in solidarity with those in their communities suffering most at the hand of government policy, and each targeted support right to the front line of need.
Those ONE THOUSAND events have taken place in more than 150 different towns and cities from Brighton to Belfast and beyond, and by the end of #WSO2019 we estimate they will have raised a staggering £500,000 worth of food, cash, clothing, bedding, furniture, electrical goods, tents and sleeping bags for food banks, homeless outreach, crisis centres and soup kitchens; all at the grassroots and all in urgent need of help.
Of course we shouldn’t have to do this. The sixth largest economy on the planet should be able to care for its citizens, but we all know it doesn’t, and we all know it has no intention of doing so because it is ideologically opposed to the notion of lifting a finger. But we are a compassionate people, and we will not pass by on the other side when there are those in need. We never have and we never will.
We watch how it is done daily. Through targeted poverty-hatred in the media; through Universal Credit; through poverty wages; through zero hours contracts; through statistically-driven benefit sanctions; through a government able to stand up in parliament and declare a ‘jobs miracle’ when it is possible to have three or four of these jobs and still never get an hour’s work.
It is done through discrimination, recrimination and blame; but we do not buy into it and we will fight til they lose.
It is fitting that it should be Pauline Town who confirms the gig which takes us to ONE THOUSAND events. Working from the heart of our movement The Station Hotel, Ashton Under Lyne, Pauline’s Christmas WSO events helped more than a 1000 people and made sure SIXTEEN men, women and children are able to start 2019 in new accomodation, safe from the threat of homelessness. No-one has given more to our movement, and no-one deserves to clock up the phenomenal ONE THOUSAND than she.
#WSO2019 has only just begun, but it has started with an incredible achievement for all involved and I hope that it becomes the springboard for more record-breaking over the coming 12 months, because there is no doubt about it, the need is greater than ever.
A massive THANK YOU from all at WSO Central to EVERYONE who has contributed in any way, large or small, to We Shall Overcome. It all matters. This was just an idea until the first person rocked up with a tin of beans and now look at it. This is what can be achieved through ordinary people working together on something way bigger than the sum of its parts. YOU did this, ALL of you.
This is solidarity put into practice.
WE are many. THEY are few.
We can do this.


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Just been totting up the totals for We Shall Overcome in #WSO2018.
Together, thousands of people up and down this land ran a total of 207 gigs where they collected food, cash, warm clothing, sanitary towels, bedding and blankets and just about everything else needed by those hardest hit by Tory policy.
In total we have run 921 such events since October 2015, and we fight til they lose. Simple as.
Next year we will smash 1000 gigs and we estimate the value of our collective efforts to be somewhere in the region of half a million quid. All raised locally, all going direct to the front line of need in the grassroots struggle against austerity.
From all at WSO Central, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who ran an event, played an event, supported an event or just sat at home and shared the posts around.
Every single one of you matters.
That’s what makes WSO so vitally important.
We fight on.

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