It’s our 2nd Birthday today.
Two years have seen us take We Shall Overcome from an idea on a Facebook thread to an international anti-austerity campaign fighting for communities everywhere.
We have run upwards of 550 events now, in 135 different towns and cities across nine countries on three continents and the estimated £225,000 worth of food, cash, clothing, bedding and furniture raised has helped change lives up and down this country, it has got the homeless off the streets, it has rehoused young children living in slums and it has forged long-term bonds between musicians, poets, organisers and activists which have led to the movement changing, evolving and making the leap from protest/benefit gigs to feet on the ground 24/7 working in tandem with dozens of other campaigns to help the poorest and most vulnerable at the point of need.
Sadly though, if anything, we are needed now more than ever and it is in this spirit that I appeal to you all to rise again and start planting your red stars on our map.
We are running all year now, but the main focus of our work is the weekend of Friday 6th to Sunday 8th October. If you can bring your town to the party that would be fantastic.
Remember, We Shall Overcome is not about me or our committee or any individual in this group; We Shall Overcome is about us, ALL of us, and what can be achieved when we all pull together and add our single gigs into one massive festival. It is a celebration of community solidarity, and a demonstration of how incredible it is when a few thousand people all decide together they will be that someone somewhere who does something about it.
Please message me on firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me in a post or comment on this thread if you are willing to come back for more or have confirmed dates we don’t yet know about. It’s vital we are able to paint some kind of picture as to what we have out there. We know only too well some of you will have changed circumstances and won’t be able to join us; we also know some of you who were there in 2015 couldn’t make last year but will return full on for #WSO2017. Old friends and new friends are all welcome here.
Come on folks. Roll up.
The world won’t change itself.
Bring it on.
We are delighted to announce that the RMT Yorkshire and Lincolnshire branch voted to donate a staggering £500 to We Shall Overcome in a show of solidarity with our fight against the effects of austerity in our communities.
Regional Organiser, Sean McGowan, made the announcement last night and we can’t thank Sean and the union enough for their incredible generosity.
As you know, WSO Central does not handle money and everything we raise out there in our communities STAYS out there in our communities going direct from those making the donation to those on the front line delivering street-level help to those most in need. As such we could not accept the cheque directly but instead asked it to be forwarded to Pauline Town‘s teams in Ashton-under-Lyne where it will be put into use in January when people are broke and the weather is cold. With their generosity here the RMT will be literally saving lives.
We’d like to ask all WSO supporters to return that solidarity by sharing this blog in the hope that it will help counter the ruthless anti-union press coverage as the RMT strike to keep our rail networks safe for passengers; and if any of you out there can spare a little time to support RMT members on picket lines I’m sure they would be glad to see We Shall Overcome at their shoulder.
For anyone struggling to see light out there in the darkness, I give you Pauline Town.
Times are hard, and when times are hard some people crumble and some show strength and courage and determination and make it through; but others show that strength and courage and determination coupled with love and compassion and carry ALL of us through with them.
Pauline is one of those special people.
Just read this:
“Now the post I have been waiting to put up – the total for We Shall Overcome – Christmas here at The Station this year…….there is still actually a little more that may come in as a couple of people are rounding up their tardy sponsors, but we need to let you all know just what an incredible result you have all made happen.
The total is…………………
SEVEN THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY POUNDS
On top of that incredible figure, RMT Yorkshire and Lincolnshire region have just voted to donate a further £500 to WSO to be used on the front line in January and Joe Solo and Sean Mcgowan have agreed an action plan with me for that – incredible solidarity from their members and that money will be going out when everyone is skint after Christmas and the frost is biting making life hell for the most vulnerable out there. Huge, Huge thanks for that donation – it will help a lot of people.
Caretech have also of course funded the outreach and Tameside Against The Cuts food parcels in that total above throughout the weeks between the New Year and our first 2017 WSO event in March – awesome…..
Of that almost £8000, £3330 has gone out in cash already to other groups in our LINK to get immediate help out on the front line – that list includes Infinity Initiatives, Emmelines, Mencap and R&R, and also to the family who lost Dad tragically so close to Christmas, Katy and Anthony for food and to pay the deposit on that respite trip for Steve and Mary.
A further £2536 has already been spent achieving the initial aims we set and a further four or five, including paying the deposit on a flat to give an elderly gent who was homeless and will now be in his own home for Christmas…..
There are two more payments for flats to go out of the balance tomorrow – in total FOUR people will now have their own homes and a fresh start.
We started with twelve aims and were kind of hoping for £3000 total this year to achieve them, in the words of a friend here at the moment who is one of the lads we helped into his own home earlier this year – “If that total was an ass-hole, it would be walking like John Wayne right now!” Thanks for that Richard Whitworth 😀 xxx
All those aims have been achieved bigger and better than we had ever hoped and there have actually been another TWELVE achieved – an extra Christmas Dinner for 28 people not now facing Christmas alone, loads of donations to Age UK, loads of donations to WCBS, 72 homeless children here in Tameside now having gifts on Christmas Day, one refugee shelter given food, one food bank given food, one lady and young boy now getting Christmas after a bereavement, one carer and an elderly disabled lady getting a respite trip, three flats for homeless people, one family selling the Big Issue to survive getting Christmas help….and we have more stuff to go to Church of The Nazarene tomorrow too to help with their Christmas Dinner.
Well over FOUR HUNDRED people and 140 animals have been directly helped by Christmas WSO this year – and that help will be carrying on right through to next March. That is an absolutely incredible achievement – you should all be very, very proud of what you have made happen here. Thank you so very much.
I still have a lot of loose ends to tie up tomorrow and Thursday and there will be more cash going out to some of our LINK groups once I have done all of that – once I have Christmas out of the way, I will post up all the money in and out in full – it’s taken three of us all day to balance and collate it all and I have to go and get more stuff sorted out right now to get it out there to where it matters tomorrow in time for Christmas…..
For now, I love every one of you – thank you for all you have done – thanks to Joe Solo and The Miners, to the bands, to the poets, to the rough sleepers, to RMT, to Care Tech, to our family, to our MP and local councillors, to every person who supported, donated, danced, sang, spoke, loved and made magic – I’m in bits here you have absolutely blown me away with your solidarity and your compassion and your simple human decency – I wish every one of you an incredible Christmas and you know what? WE SHALL OVERCOME!!! xxx”
Pauline, we salute you, and we are proud to call you our Big Sis x
Incredible work around the country by WSO musicians playing #Busk4TheHomeless events. The idea originally came from GJ Armstrong who ran similar events in Ashton-under-Lyne around our main week, but Jamie Bramwell wanted to take the idea further. Working with musicians locally he put together street teams in Liverpool and asked other towns to follow.
The results were heartwarming and infectious. Check out this video….
Pete Yen ran with the idea in Nottingham, raising enough money to feed 200 people in the coming days….
And Ashton, inevitably, pitched in showing solidarity WAY beyond the cause.
With further events elsewhere, and more planned for the early weeks of next year, We Shall Overcome musicians will be out there trying to ease the burden on those who have slipped through the holes cut in the safety net by Tory austerity.
Well done to all involved, and let’s fight on!
Thanks to Warren Millar and Pete Yen for the photographs and video.
#WSO2016 was given another amazing boost yesterday when Joe Solo was joined on stage by none other than Jeremy Corbyn!
Joe and The Hatfield Brigade, a choir like no other, made up of former miners and their families, had been asked by Tosh McDonald, President of ASLEF, to perform their song ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ at the rail union’s Annual Dinner. They were all set to start singing when they were joined by a very special honorary member….
The single was released on 28th November with all funds raised going to We Shall Overcome causes in the South Yorkshire area. Mr Corbyn joining them on stage was a tremendous demonstration of solidarity with a community pulling together to make a statement of defiance and offer help and support to those struggling in #FoodBankBritain, and WSO would like to thank him for the vote of confidence.
You can download the single from Amazon, I-Tunes, Googleplay, Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual suspects…..so please do! Your donation will help others in their time of need.
Joe and the Brigade hadn’t finished with the mischief. They went out into Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster for a flash-mob performance of the single….
We Shall Overcome causes are also being supported by our friend Robb Johnson (and the Corbynistas), whose single ‘JC 4PM 4 Me’ is raising funds for the Trussell Trust; and The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican, whose take on ‘So Here It Is Merry Xmas’ is raising funds for Shelter. If you can spare a few quid, why not buy the lot!!
Our incredible extended week of events may have come to an end, but there’s still plenty to get involved with as we move into the worst of the winter.
We Shall Overcome is going to be active throughout up to and including the festive period helping where we can. On December 10th, following an idea by Jamie Bramwell, we are calling for WSO musicians all over the UK to join in our #Busk4TheHomeless campaign. Originally done as part of the main event and organised by GJ Armstrong in Ashton-under-Lyne, busking for the homeless has caught on in a few places and we currently have pledges in Liverpool, Ashton, Nottingham and Scarborough with more in the pipeline. If you can add your town to this fantastic campaign then please contact us and we’ll make sure the world knows about it. Just remember to wrap up warm.
Speaking of wrapping up warm, Pauline Town is running the second of her incredible #SponsoredRoughSleep outside The Station pub in Ashton-under-Lyne on Saturday December 3rd. This will be the last of yet another incredible run of events the details of which can be found on this link:
and once again, we ALL salute the tireless work of our Big Sis as she sets about saving the world one life at a time with such passion and fearless dedication. We love her to bits.
The final gig of our #WSO2016 run is a CHRISTMAS PARTY at Chesterfield Labour Club featuring the brilliant Steve White & The Protest Family which promises to be a proper knees-up to finish our campaigning for another year….and word has it this will be the northern leg of their album launch. I’m pretty sure chaos and mayhem may just be the start of an absolute cracker.
And lastly, that Joe Solo is up to some more mischief on behalf of the WSO cause. Following his #SocksAppeal which produced so many donated socks, gloves and wooly hats for the homeless that he almost bankrupted himself posting them to Pauline, he has teamed up with the ‘UK Miners Pension Scheme for Justice and Fair Play Association‘ to record a festive song with a choir of former miners and their families called ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main‘. The song will be released on 28th November with all money raised going to a new Crisis Fund for people struggling under austerity in the South Yorkshire pit villages. You can download that from all the usual sites….Amazon, itunes, Spotify etc…..knowing you are helping people while attempting to take WSO to the top of the charts this Christmas. The video is here:
and your help is sharing it around would be very much appreciated.
And lastly, a statement regarding #WSO2017 will follow over the next few days. So watch this space.
We can make the world a better place. It just takes us trying.
Bring it on.