This week we attended Counterpoint Arts' Refugee Week Conference at Amnesty International's headquarters and were encouraged by all of the conversations we had with fellow refugee support groups (arts-focused and otherwise) who met to discuss 'what ELSE can we do.' While Refugee Week is a positively brilliant mechanism for ensuring that celebrating refugees and their contributions is built into the calendar, we should be sure to remember EVERY that week is refugee week. Here's to connecting further and working together to ensure that ALL rights are preserved and all humans are celebrated.
See what you can do to celebrate and support refugee communities for #RefugeeWeek and every week.
Alyson and Anna were encouraged by the turn out and quality of discussion at last night's panel at University of Oxford's Somerville College. The two PFP Co-Founders joined Lord Alf Dubs, Ishamel (the first young person to be brought to the UK in safety following the Dubs Amendment), Beth Gardiner-Smith (of Safe Passage UK), Emma Reece (UNICEF UK), Tajmeet Gorwarah (refugee and Oxford student) and representatives of the Oxford City Council as panellists. The discussion was geared towards how we can better effect systematic change to ensure that we harness and encourage the power of public opinion, which favours the welcoming of more vulnerable people into the UK, and provide better and more comprehensive services for those who make it here.
We are excited to announce that on Feb 1 at 5pm, Founders Anna Mac and Alyson Frazier will contribute as panellists for Somerville College University of Oxford's discussion on child refugees and the power of education.
The evening will begin with a talk by Lord Alf Dubs, campaigner for refugee rights, and follow with a panel discussion hosted by:
Alyson Frazier and Anna MacDonald (Play for Progress)
Beth Gardiner-Smith (Safe Passage UK)
Tajmeet Gorwarah & Ishmael (students)
Bob Price (Oxford City Council)
Emma Reece (UNICEF UK Government Relations Adviser)
Alyson and Anna are determined to enroll even more allies in our support of young refugees, learn more about what our colleagues are doing and see what we can do to help them, and add to the positive dialogue that will ensure that creative/music education and therapies are better harnessed to combat isolation and build communities for vulnerable young people.
If you'd like to attend, you can find ticketing details here:
TORCH - The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
We are looking for two lovely people, who would dedicate themselves in head and heart to our burgeoning community, to join our team of trusted trustees! Follow the links below to learn more about what we are looking for from our future FUNDRAISING and MARKETING TRUSTEES!
FUNDRAISING TRUSTEE REQUIREMENTS
MARKETING TRUSTEE REQUIREMENTS
Given how high we are still flying, it's hard to believe that it was one week ago today already that we performed centre stage at the Southbank Centre Clore Ballroom as part of 'A Child of Our Time' Fundraising Gala for the Refugee Council Children's Section with Hilary Hahn, Ed Gardner, London Philharmonic Orchestra London Philharmonic Choir and more!
These photos from the day (taken by Andrew J McCoy), are mid-concert snaps of our tutors, so just imagine the smiles on the KIDS faces! As usual, in the effort to protect their identities, we sadly can't share their cheshire cat grins with you, but trust us, they blow even these beautiful faces out of the water.
Please help us expand and be able to enroll more children in our programme! www.justgiving.com/playforprogress
When coming to a new land, and in attempting to call it home, there are countless obstacles an immigrant faces, let alone a refugee. Isolation, language barriers, access to housing and food...it's an endless list.
The Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Welcome Group (https://hfrefugeeswelcome.uk/) is one organisation that pushes daily to reduce that list, and this holiday season it was no different. We joined them on Dec 16th to throw a holiday party to bring just a bit of good ole fashioned silly British festive joy. Tutors Alice and Johnny lead a holiday-themed, raucous session and joined in the Christmas feast and stocking share that the HFRWG put on.
The day before, we had hosted our own holiday party at our usual Croydon location with our PFP family. We gorged on Christmas crackers, satsumas, sweets, mince pies and christmas puddings while we raucously sang and jammed along to our favourite holiday tunes. Indeed, all was merry and bright.
So from our large, diverse, and loving family to yours, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Kongo Dia Ntotila
Our AIA guests this month were the amazing Kongo Dia Ntotila. Made up of John Kelly (guitar), Mike Soper (trumpet), Will Scott (sax), David Lessie (drums), and Mulele Matondo (bass and MC), their self-described and public-approved "JOYFUL jazz-inflected AFRO-KOSMIC edu-tainment" is something not to miss. Their groovy Congolese sounds filled up the entire council, bringing kids, staff, and volunteers together in a proper jam sesh. Check out their live music schedule and get yourself to a show! http://kongodiantotila.com/
On the chilly afternoon of December 3, we trekked from Croydon to Poplar with 15 unaccompanied teen refugees to the gloriously generous Poplar Union community centre. The kids didn't quite know what they were in for when we arrived, and they showed little restraint in expressing their initial 'HUH?!' when they were asked to don aprons and wash up for the first task of the day. But this changed immediately when the truly brilliant and inexhaustible Jean of E5 Bakehouse launched into his sourdough tutorial and told everyone to roll up their sleeves and get ready to bake some bread.
You might be thinking...'hang on, I thought you were a music charity?!...' Of course! But we are also oh so much more than that! Have a look at the photos below and on social media to see just how gorgeously the young people dove in, worked together in teams, competed for perfection, used the open stone fire, and ended up baking what would be part of their communal dinner-over 150 delicious pieces of flat bread fresh out of the oven.
As the bread proved, we had time on our hands. Enter: Sefiroth.
Self-described, Sefiroth is a 10-piece electro-acoustic chamber ensemble playing contemporary interpretations of traditional Sephardic (Judeo-Spanish) repertoire, much of which dates back to the Medieval period and draws upon Arabic, Turkish, Greek and Eastern European influences. The musicians in the ensemble represent several nationalities and between them are versed in a wide range of musical idioms including Balkan, Middle Eastern, Arabic, klezmer, rock, jazz, early and contemporary classical, electronic and improvised music. https://sefiroth.bandcamp.com/
Lead by former PFP guitar tutor Alex Roth, visiting percussion tutor Simon Roth, and incorporating the glorious sounds that come from violin tutor and vocalist Alice Zawadski, Sefiroth gave our students an insight into the Sephardic music tradition, guided our students through making our own lyrics and ultimately our own song, taught one of the songs that they would perform later in the evening, and engaged with our students one-on-one, being sure to answer all of their keen questions, and hearing their own musical offerings.
After we gorged on the glorious food Jean and the E5 Bakehouse team prepared ahead of time, which accompanied our fresh bread, we had the delight to sit front row to soak in the musical offering that Sefiroth delivered to a full house. When encouraged by the band to jump up and dance at the last number, our crew didn't disappoint. It was truly a gift of a day...
TO BE CONTINUED...
You can bet your bottom dollar that we will be back at Poplar before too long. We are already in discussion with the team to see when we can return to deliver our own performance. Until then, check out their awesome events, and go give Jean and the E5 Bakehouse team all the love you can!
Poplar Union: 2 Cotall St, Poplar, London E14 6TL, UK
A special thing happens once a week at the Refugee Council Children's Section. It can be fun or thought-provoking, meaningful, it's sometimes very quiet or very loud, but it's always positive, and it's a time just for girls. It's called Girls Group, and it's organised by the brilliant Young Roots.
A vast majority of the girls who come through the Refugee Council have been in tension-filled, male-dominated environments for most of their journeys, if not most of their lives. Just as boys need time to spend together, the girls need some exclusive time too. As a majority-female, and female-lead charity, we knew we had to get involved.
We have been delighted to be involved with two of the girls groups events this past month.
First Girls Group
For the first, we invited jewellery artist, Esna Su, who was the hclub100 award winner for Art, Design, and Craft and is a refugee herself, to speak with the girls about art and work, and everything in between. Learn more about Esna and her incredible work below and online (insta=@esna_su).
Second Girls Group
For the second, three of our tutors, lead a brilliant workshop that involved everything from imbuing confidence like a queen and singing rounds, to learning dance steps to live Klezmer music, and enjoying a bit of Mozart. We were also joined by the driven actress/activist Juliet Stevenson, who in addition to being an extraordinary artist has a long history of campaigning effectively for refugee rights. We've said it before and we will say it again: joining together as Allies in Art and we will make the changes we want to see.
Check out our tweet from that evening to feel the sheer joy of it:
Tonight was a JOY! No pics to share this time-were having too much fun! Tutors Alice @lydiahillerudh @alyfrazier lead a room full of confident, incredible young women making music & more. We're stronger when we are #AlliesInArt Thanks YR @juliet945 @refugeecouncil
The founders, Anna and Alyson