A Raised Fist & A Helping Hand

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.


Logo 2018 2
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.

Logo 3

#WSO2018: Now More Than Ever


I was asked the other day if I wasn’t banging a broken drum over austerity, it was put to me that we should stand down as people had moved on.
Well if anything, times now are harder than ever; and as far as I can see the only people who have ‘moved on’ are people who choose to look the other way.
#ToryNeglect is causing widespread suffering in #FoodBankBritain and it isn’t enough to stand idly by.
I read Billy Bragg saying times are far worse now than under Thatcher, and I completely agree. Back then there was unemployment and deprivation for sure, but there was a safety net of welfare and the cost of existing, and I use that word over ‘living’ deliberately, was far lower as a proportion of our income.
In short, what work there was paid a wage which didn’t put you straight back into poverty the day after your pay packet.
A Working Class job then would pay what would be viewed as a Middle Class wage now.
And there was Hope. We believed it was temporary, that we could take down Thatcher and make the country better. That gave us the will to fight. I don’t mean as a pocket of energetic activists, we still have that now; I mean as a NATION.
New Labour killed that.
They showed us the alternative was no better.
They caused widespread alienation and apathy that drove millions away from politics, and their abadonment of their traditional core vote drove thousands into the arms of the Far Right. It was a betrayal of the Working Class which history will judge, because we are yet to see its endgame, and if the rise of fascist and Nazi attacks on our streets is anything to go by, it will get far worse before it gets better.
Today I repaired a young man’s washing machine. He had a toddler running around on a bare concrete floor. His partner was out at work and when she gets home he goes out on nights. Two jobs and he practically wept telling me there still wasn’t enough money left to buy rugs, and their landlord refused to carpet the floor saying: “Take it or leave it. I can soon find another tenant.”
In the words of the great Jack Monroe, when told people were struggling to make ends meet on the new ‘Living Wage’:
“Well it’s not a f***ing Living Wage then is it.”
As Billy pointed out, people are now using food banks and soup kitchens as a daily necessity effectively living like striking miners and their families did in 1984-85.
And this summer holiday, hundreds of thousands of children denied  only got a decent meal because of voluntary organisations and charities.
So no, I don’t think it’s time to move on.
I think We Shall Overcome is needed more than ever.
I think the fall-out over Brexit, and the current US-led Far Right agenda poisoning our streets, is being fuelled by the anger, deprivation and squalor caused by austerity and poverty wages; and I think it’s high time people woke up and fought these problems at their source instead of being led up blind alleys by the daily news cycle.
This needs to be stopped.
And people need our help.
Two fights, one cause.
The future needs us now.
This is the fight of our lives.
Joe Solo

The Raised Fist & The Helping Hand

WSO 2018 Banner

We call it ‘A RAISED FIST, AND A HELPING HAND’ because that’s what it is.
On one level it is a grassroots movement against Austerity; and on the other, a series of benefit gigs helping to alleviate the suffering #ToryNeglect is causing in #FoodBankBritain
We Shall Overcome belongs to everyone who chooses to march under its banner; and in marching with us, you give your event a national voice in the struggle for change; you help make the cries for an end to Austerity a little louder; because the Establishment doesn’t fear random, disconnected events; it fears one thing and one thing only.
We shout loud enough first so they can hear, and then so they are forced to listen.
For that we need numbers, and for numbers we need you.
And that’s the easy part.
The other bit.
The ‘Helping Hand’.
Just slap our logo on your poster somewhere, and make a collection for a local cause. What cause is your choice. All we ask is that it helps people who are struggling out there thanks to the policies of this government. It could be a collection of groceries for your local food bank or soup kitchen; warm clothing for Homeless outreach; cash for a crisis centre; you know your town best, so you decide where the help goes.
Oh, and let us know. That way we can add your event to the others.
All 846 of them so far.
In 142 towns and cities.
In 9 countries.
Across 3 continents.
We Shall Overcome gigs have raised somewhere in the region of £360,000 worth of food, cash, clothing, sleeping bags and bedding, toiletries, sanitary towels; furniture, small electrical appliances and, well, anything people needed and we had the collective power to provide.
Quite something that.
Join us.
Fighting back never felt better.


2018 T-Shirt

It’s here! The We Shall Overcome t-shirt for #WSO2018 is now available via the good people at Philosophy Football and we could not be happier with the design. From the amazing ‘loudhaler’ logo by Marcus Henfrey, it looks cracking on a classic black tee and we can’t wait to see you out there wearing it.

There are three ways to get your hands on one.

First up you need this link:


From there you have three options.

  1. STANDARD PRICE You pay the Philosophy Football standard price of £22.99 plus postage and 10% goes to fighting austerity through WSO causes.
  2. SOLIDARITY PRICE You choose the ‘Solidarity’ option and your shirt costs £29.99 but £10 then goes to our causes.
  3. ARTISTS AND ORGANISERS DISCOUNT If you are an artist, an organiser, or are helping in any way, large or small, to run a WSO event then there is a discount code on all orders of two or more shirts which reduces the price to 50% making it effectively a 2 for 1. To get the code just email me at joesolomusic@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll message you back asap.

We hope that somewhere in there is an option which will help you wear our 2018 shirt with pride.

We can’t wait to see the selfies landing.