Manchester festival hopes to end homelessness
- A new festival, Tunes4Change, is coming to Manchester next month
- The festival, organised by charity LifeShare, is aiming to end the homelessness crisis in Manchester
Manchester is currently in the midst of a homelessness crisis. The numbers of homeless in the city have been rising since 2010, and it does not look set to end anytime soon.
Tunes4Change, a charity festival organised by local charity LifeShare, has been organised with the aims of kerbing this disturbing trend.
The Festival, Tunes4Change, will take place on Friday 10 February at The Royal British Legion in Poynton, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity, LifeShare.
The NQ caught up with Joe Ashworth, a singer for a self-proclaimed "space-rock" band The Magic Otters, who organised the festival in the hopes of ending this humanitarian epidemic.
NQ: How did you come up with the idea for TUNES4CHANGE?
JA: Walking from Piccadilly Station to work every day, I’d noticed the number of people trying to survive on the streets was increasing at an alarming rate. This prompted my partner and I to register for volunteering work with Lifeshare over the Christmas period in 2015, where we were made acutely aware how widespread the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping was in Manchester. I found myself wondering what else I could do to effect change, at any small level. Acorns, n’ all that.
I was at HOME cinema, on First Street, to see Ken Loach’s excellent and pretty gritty ‘I, Daniel Blake’. The film focuses on the plight of a highly skilled carpenter, signed off work by his doctor after a heart attack, who tries to negotiate the utterly inadequate and bitterly cruel benefits system we (only just) have in this country, and which actually now has a rapidly rising death toll attached directly to it.
I was moved to tears by the very real story and as the credits rolled and I wiped the tears from my beard, a voice from the seat behind me said, “Alright Joe! Incredible film. Fancy a beer and a catch-up in the bar?” That was the voice of Simon Inkpen, a sound engineer who’s worked on gigs I’ve done with the band. I had no idea he was on the committee for the venue in Poynton where TUNES4CHANGE is gonna be happening. When we sat down and got chatting about the film, I mentioned the voluntary work with Lifeshare and how inspiring an organisation it is, and that I was signed up for more volunteering for the Christmas period coming up (2016). That was when the idea for the event came.
NQ: So, how did it go from an idea to a reality?
JA: I just asked the fellas in my band if they’d be up for doing an event for charity, and everyone was down with that.
Simon invited me down to the venue to check it out and sort out a date for an event with a few bands playing. I’d seen Ally Dickaty’s ‘People Help The People’ event in Macclesfield and thought that was a really cool idea. He’s the singer and songwriter from The Virginmarys, who won Classic Rock magazine’s Best Newcomer in 2015. I got in touch with him and he very kindly agreed to play a solo set. I’ve got to know Ally quite well through steady communication with him about this and he has a massive heart. And an even bigger voice. Wow, what a voice!
NQ: Who'll be playing at the event?
JA: There’ll be the awesome Ally Dickaty (from The Virginmarys) a true working-class hero whose reputation precedes him. The Magick Otters, the band I sing with and write the lyrics for, which is quite a strange-looking outfit, and which sounds even stranger. I suppose it’s psychedelic rock really. A brilliant singer/songwriter and guitarist from Poynton – Phil Davies – is supporting. His curious songs are bursting with wit and are really quite splendid.
NQ: What exactly does Lifeshare do? How does the charity help the city's homeless?
JA: It’s an amazing organisation with real heart, and it is part of Manchester City Council’s recently launched Big Change campaign which is several vetted homelessness charities pulling together and pooling their resources to make a bigger difference than might otherwise be made.
I understand a family were housed just before Christmas under this initiative, which is hugely encouraging.
Lifeshare is run by some really top people who give up so much time to help the most needy in the city. Among the many positive things they do for rough-sleepers is running a weekend breakfast service and they’re also open throughout every Christmas period, when low temperatures, low self-esteem and low morale really start to bite for many people out on the streets. To find out more, or to make a donation of time, money or goods.
NQ: Are there any plans for the future with Tunes4Change?
JA: Well, this is quite a small event but the interest in it has been really encouraging and obviously very positive. I’d like to do it again maybe later in the year, and introduce more bands, or maybe make it an all-day or even a weekend affair. We’ll see!
It’s compelling to see how many people genuinely care about the situation those less fortunate among us are finding themselves in, in a country where the Government is not only in complete denial, but is actively encouraging the economic disparity.
In the 6th wealthiest economy on the planet, austerity is not a necessity, it’s a political choice.
It’s appalling and I don’t think we, as human beings, can sit around and let it happen. We can get together, organise and do whatever’s in our power to ease the pressure. We can make Tunes4Change!
Tickets are £10 advanced, £12 on the door, are strictly limited and available at the venue.