Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Lush Birmingham
On Friday 24th November, The Castle and Falcon in Balsall Heath will be hosting Singing for Supper, a live gig with a somewhat stellar line up – You Dirty Blue, Sofa King, Alfresco Love Sounds, The Chalet Lines will all be performing for only a £5.50 door charge. For online ticket sales, click here.
With each act worth the ticket price to just see them on stage, you’ve got three. Not a bad way to spend your money on Black Friday.
But it gets better. Singing for Supper has been organised by the Lush Birmingham soap store to raise money for The Night Shelter – a Coventry based “safe place” that “provides aid to refugees, asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers – people with no recourse to public funds, which means they’re not entitled to any benefits or any help.”
Birmingham Review caught up with Lydia Brookes, one of the Singing for Supper promoters and a ‘Lush Ambassador’, to ask what made them foray into the world of music promotions on arguably the busiest retail day of the year.
“Homelessness is a huge problem,” explains Brookes, “we see ‘rooflessness’ every single day. It’s an issue close to our hearts at Lush and we wanted to work with this charity (The Night Shelter) because they’re part of such an important community resource”. The Night Shelter is one of the services of support available at the Coventry Peace House, a collection of renovated terrace houses that work on a portfolio of charitable endevours – including projects “to make the area more environmentally friendly, to give people safe spaces and places to learn,” tells Brookes. “We care a lot about this organisation because it’s so small but it’s doing so much. It’s quite unique and we really got behind their ethos”.
But this event is looking at a broader problem than just homelessness, which in itself is a growing killer on the bitter cold streets of the UK. Lush Rocks, a name born from the retailers move into charitable music promotions, hopes their Singing for Supper gig on Friday 24th November will help raise both “money and public awareness” for the plight of those lost in the UK’s immigration cracks, whilst encouraging “people to think about the choices they’re make in and help in any way they can”.
“People sometimes don’t realise that asylum seekers aren’t allowed to work, or claim benefits, until their case has been heard,” explains Brookes, “so refused asylum seekers essentially have no options. Only if they’re in an absolute destitution can they apply for funds and even then it’s not guaranteed. The Night Shelter gives the people a warm place to sleep, it gives them beds, its gives people access to showers and hot meals.”
And what about the school of thought that is more anti-immigration to begin with? This is a prevalent issue in the UK, but one that can receive more divided and divisive attention than just straightforward compassion. “We respect everyone’s views,” tells Brookes, “but it’s worth remembering that a good deal of asylum seeker cases that are initially refused then get granted on appeal – and these are cases that should have been granted in the first place, with the administrations going back to them saying ‘you do have a viable claim and this should have been previously granted.’ Whatever your views are on asylum seekers and destitute refugees, we need to treat them as human beings. We have to view people as people, first and foremost.”
But charitable endevours aside, Singing for Supper is a gig simply well worth the door charge – especially with You Dirty Blue on the bill, a Tamworth alt-rock two piece who recently supported Wolf Alice on the first day of their UK tour and are pegged for big and bright things in 2018.
“We’re really excited,” explains Brookes, “especially about The Chalet Lines as it’s the solo act from one of the Lush Birmingham staff (Joseph Parker). Sofa King have a really funky vibe to them and we also got Alfresco Love Sounds. Then there’s You Dirty Blue who won’t be playing in small venues for long… this will be a good chance to see them in an ‘intimate’ setting.”
With all the acts “doing it voluntarily”, Singing for Supper at The Castle and Falcon on Friday 24th November should be able to raise a decent chunk of change for The Night Shelter – a support service that is especially pertinent at this time of year.
And if you are fighting your way to bargain blissteria this Friday, Lush Birmingham are also asking for donations of “non-perishable food items with a high energy content, things like jam and sugar. Also simple toiletries, so toothpaste, tooth brushes, toilet roll. And blankets. Just think ‘if I had to get buy on very few things, what would I need’”.
It’s almost as if this time of year isn’t just about shopping for yourself…
Singing for Supper comes to The Castle & Falcon on Friday 24th November, with You Dirty Blue, Sofa Kings, Alfresco Love Sounds and The Chalet Lines performing – as presented by Lush Rocks (from the Ambassadors Team at Lush Birmingham).
All money raised from the gig will go to support The Night Shelter at the Coventry Peace House – a shelter for refugees, asylum seekers and people who have ‘no recourse to public funds’. For online gig ticket sales, click here.
For more on The Night Shelter, visit www.naccom.org.uk/members/peace-house-night-shelter/
For more on Coventry Peace House, visit www.coventrypeacehouse.wixsite.com/coventry-peace-house
For more from The Castle & Falcon, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.castleandfalcon.com
Lush Birmingham are also looking for donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries and FMCGs such as sugar, breakfast cereal, rice, jam, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cooking oil, instant coffee, toilet roll, or washing powder.
If you can’t attend the Lush Rock Singing for Supper event at The Castle & Falcon on Friday 24th Nov, donations can be sent to the Lush Ambassadors Team at: Lush Birmingham, 23 New St, Birmingham B2 4RQ
To find out more about Lush Birmingham, visit www.uk.lush.com/shop/birmingham
To learn more about the problems faced by asylum seekers coming to the UK and people who are ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’, please visit the following website for the Birmingham based Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT) www.asirt.org.uk