Dear Singers and Supporters
Here it is.........
Singing4Refugees...The Exeter Launch!!!!
Marvellous venue- a big bright room on the perimeter of Exeter college, amidst trees and
standing alone- so we can make as much noise as- without disturbing anyone. Room BO9.
Our launch is Monday 13th March 7-9pm.
We then meet every Monday in term time in Costa Coffee Shop in the
Tower Building, from 6.30 pm; this is signposted.
Or go to Reception in the main Hele Building, and they will be expecting you, and direct you on to the coffee shop. Parking around the Hele campus is free after 6pm ; on Queen St., Bystock Terrace, Holwell
Train stations are very nearby. I will travel on the 1728 from Totnes, arriving
at Exeter St. Davids at 1801. This is the London Paddington
train, which leaves Plymouth ,platform 4, at 1657.
Hussain, Sarwan, and Serge might get this train in Plymouth.
Bring nibbles and teas and
if you can, a couple of cups. There's just a kettle in
the room! Bring any musical
instruments. The room is not as hot as we're used to, so
dress in layers! We hope to have a
really wide variety of people. Might I ask RSD and ExCos and
DDE people to help us promote this weekly inclusive event as
widely as possible please? Most particularly amongst asylum
seeker and refugees. Also our supporters- please recommend
us wherever you can. Although we have
already been asked to sing at a couple of events, we will
mostly focus on our weekly sessions of singing, drumming,
clapping, dancing and drinking tea , maybe storytelling,
with fun and friendship our main objectives.
There will be a suggested minimum donation of £4. Free for asylum seekers and
refugees.Please visit our Facebook page and
please blog-especially people who've been with us in
Totnes. Help us shout our success! Fortunately, Erica has
offered to continue helping on the website during this transition .The songs are listed on
the website, with YouTube links, so please listen and
singalong. The first week we'll probably
sing ,"We Shall Overcome" and " Rivers of Babylon". As we have lost Rose Kirby, who used to print
out the words, might I ask you to print out a couple of
copies, if you have the facilities ,
please? Big Big Thanks
to everyone. See you Monday. Contact me if there's
anything else-I'm sure to have missed something!
Bella Ciao Pauline 07528847957
Dear Singers and Supporters,
What a fantastic year this has been for all those involved with S4R!
We have together raised over £4000 - which has gone directly to Calais , and latterly to Paris, buying food, shoes, drums and other essential items.
Our last performance-at South Brent Breakfast Club, raised £350, which has been sent to our contact in Paris. She buys food and essential for refugees living on the streets, as well as taking more vulnerable teenagers into her house for a day at a time, to wash, do their laundry and have a couple of good meals. Big thanks to Guy-could you pass on our thanks to South Brent people please? And big thanks to Rose Ellis for organising amazing art works to raffle. Anyone have any fotos please?
A very Special Thank You to Rose Kirby, who has so ably assisted in the running of the choir over the past year. Rose's patience and perseverance have been outstanding - particularly in teaching us the different vocal parts.
Highlights of this amazing year, apart from the fund-raising : -
# Our very first performance as the sandwich between children's clown and adult disco, in Totnes Civic Hall on New Year's Eve 2015.
# Green Party Ceilidh in February 2016. A sell-out, enjoyed by all, and raising over £400, to buy musical instruments for our music workshops in the Calais "jungle".
# Singing in Totnes Civic Square for the 5th anniversary of the conflict in Syria. Freezing but fabulous.
# Serenading the shoppers under the Butterwalk in Totnes.
# Onstage at the Fabulous Freedom Fields Festival in Plymouth in May.
# Delighting the diners at Totnes Potluck supper.
# Totnes Xmas Market Sing. Wow! Apart from the joyful and enthusiastic singing by the choir and the spectators, we entertained 47 asylum seekers and refugees from Plymouth. We managed to gift wrap a present for everyone, and give them home- made soup and an evening to remember. Special thanks to choir supporters, Jacqi C.,Wendy S., She C.
# Further afield, at Exeter Bike Shed and South Brent, we gave a confident performance of singing, drumming and guitar- accompaniment . Big Thanks to Lizi, Serge and Rose E. Welcome and thank you to Sue Gilmurray, choir leader of Peace Voices of Exeter. We enjoyed being led by Sue in a rendition of one her own songs. We hope to collaborate on a regular basis with Sue and her singers.
Another shout out for Erica, who has designed and created our wonderful website. And also for guiding Steve and Pauline through an interview on Soundart radio.
And thanks to Jo Reay, who at very short notice offered to print our S4R fliers-which were of brilliant quality. Jo also kindly copied our S4R images to a memory stick, used by Steve and Pauline in talks to various groups.
Finally.... S4R will be re- launching at Exeter College on Mondays. Start 13th March at 7pm.
We hope to see you there. Come to sing, drum, clap, dance, drink tea. But mostly come to have fun and meet new friends.
Pauline and Steve
Totnes Christmas Night Market sing 2016.
What a wonderful evening we had of singing and fellowship with our 47 refugee visitors from Plymouth. The choir sung with great enthusiasm and all our hard work payed off on the night.
Our unique brand of singing and musical accompaniment , with Rose on guitar, Lizzie and Serge on Djembes and (eventually) Steve on keyboards, was well received by a sizeable audience, who readily joined in at every opportunity.
Our refugee visitors, all 47 of them, had a marvellous evening to remember. Devon and Cornwall Refugee Service (DCRS) funded the transport by train from Plymouth to Totnes, a scary venture considering 11 children came.
We welcomed them at the Totnes Natural Health Centre with homemade soups- Syrian carrot and tomato and organic home grown pumpkin. Presents were given to all 47 visitors and in addition all children received a £7 gift voucher for Solago gift shop. Further small gifts were provided by choir member Bridget. A large box of toiletries was collected by choir supporter Sheila, through her village shop in Harberton Ford. These were gratefully received.
Several choir members and supporters not only made soup, wrapped presents and donated cash, but also helped to provide a warm welcome with banners, smiles and handshakes all round.
After meandering up through a very busy and festive crowd, many of our guests arrived at the Market square to watch and join in with the singing.
The evening finished with cups of hot chocolate provided by Lemon Jelly and funded by Jo Sweet of Firefly. All 47 made it back to the Health Centre on time for their train home to Plymouth.
A final thank you must go to choir members who donated £130 Devonly Voices choir, who donated £46 and a further £80 collected on the night.
Such a successful evening for everyone concerned, let's hope we can all do this again sometime soon.
On Wednesday morning we left for Paris with our van crammed full with 80 sleeping bags and some small tents. We left in convoy with Sharon and Jim, a couple from North Yorkshire. Like us, they have worked hard to collect donations of cash and essential items, and distributed goods around the camp.
In Paris we met Danika, a Yugoslavian refugee who has been distributing tents and other essential items for about a year. Her basement is a storage depot, and unloading and reloading the van quietly in the dark so as not to attract attention on a busy street, we couldn't help feeling like we were part of a resistance movement.
From there we headed for the Rue de Flandres.
In the North of the city. Here we were amazed to see such a vast number of flimsy tents and shelters. Danika reliably informed us that there are 3000 refugees sleeping on the streets of Paris. As we arrived in the city, the police were tear gassing and destroying an area of tents so our supplies were hugely welcome. As we parked our two camper vans, a queue quickly formed on the pavement and 80 sleeping bags were distributed in a pleasant and orderly way. Our previous distribution experiences came in handy!
Of course the last bag to be handed out is a bitter sweet moment, as alas there are always people who go away empty handed. The good spirit of these encounters with people who are able to say thank you, even when they go away empty handed, is something that motivates us to return.
Before leaving we were able to chat with a group of young Afghans. We discovered a 4 year old girl whose mother had been killed, being looked after by her granny and other members of an extended family. We also chatted with the cousin of the 15 year old boy killed a couple of weeks ago. He recounted how this gentle quiet boy had his knee caps battered and crushed by the Bulgarian police. What bravery and resilience to keep on going and get as far as Calais.
Meanwhile, back at the Calais Jungle, a hundred plus minors have been refused registration and had nowhere safe to sleep last night. The lies coming from the Calais Prefecture on live TV this morning were, that she had rung all the voluntary organisations in the camp, to check all children had a safe place to sleep.
Not one call was made.
This morning, numbers of children were forceably removed by the police because they had no registration wrist bands. These were the 100 or so children who had been turned away from the registration centre the day before.
Various Facebook pages can keep you updated- Care4Calais, Help Refugees, Refugee Youth Service.
The photo shows children in a burned out tent, bewildered and confused. The police and French authorities having declared the camp empty!
It is becoming clear to us that the closure of the camp has only served to shift the problem to other areas.
Already we are seeing record numbers arriving in Paris.
Steve and Pauline
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Day two of the camp clearance and all still appears to be going smoothly. Early reports have come in from two Afghani friends who left the camp on a bus together. They are loving their new twin room accommodation in Pays De La Loire.
The unaccompanied minors situation appears to be more chaotic than we first thought. Many children have been unable to move into the containers because the first day of clearance only bussed out those who were keen to move. Consequently many of the containers are still ocupied by adults who dont want to move out.
Today we were told that demolition equipment would arrive, so we were awaiting the arrival of the bulldozers this morning, very much like the March clearances. Thankfully we had a dozer free day. It is rumoured that work people will arrive to dismantle the shelters rather than being bulldozed. Time will tell.
This morning there was a peaceful demonstration by the women of the camp, which has been widely posted on Facebook. The rest of the day in camp seems to have gone off without any violent incidents.
As for us, we spent the day sorting hundreds of boxes of donations, many of which are destined for Paris and some of the other smaller camps.
We hear that over the weekend, Paris police destroyed about 40 tents and shelters in the city.
We are off to Paris tomorrow with our can crammed full of sleeping bags and rents.
Check out the photo of our vicar-chef who cooks a mean stew for 100+ hungry volunteers on a single camping gas stove.
Will blog again tomorrow from Gay Paris....
WiFi permitting....oo la la
Steve and Pauline.
Another rousing performance by musical activists Singing4Refugees at the Network of Wellbeing's Community Potluck Supper on 21st October 2016. They did a set of 6 songs to raise money for refugees and asylum seekers in this country and in Calais. They raised £150 which will go to Calais in the capable hands of Steve and Pauline Hastings. Steve, a Music Teacher runs the choir and Pauline a retired Educational Psychologist make regular trips together to Calais to volunteer and take the proceeds of their fundraising work to the refugees at Calais camp.
For those interested in getting involved the choir meets next on Friday 4 November 2016 at the Natural Health Clinic in Totnes from 7.00 - 9.00 pm. Steve calls it 'singing for the terrified', everyone is welcome and the cause we are singing for creates a real feeling of camaraderie and warmth in the group. The choir is jointly run by Steve Hastings and Rose Kirby.
A wet day at Freedom Fields for some Singing4Refugees members who put in an appearance to sell some of their t shirts and offer support to the Freedom Fields Festival which is raising money in support of refugees and asylum seekers.
Steve Hastings pictured above with the t shirts stall and Pauline Hastings spontaneously joined some children with some hula hooping.....looking good Pauline :)