We launched Support Act last Thursday. You might remember that day: it was the day of the EU referendum. It happened to fall during Refugee Week, and a group of us in the music industry wanted to say to those people who had to flee their country, who were desperate enough to leave their homes in search of safety, that we were trying to help in some small way.
Whatever you feel about the result of the vote, it seems undeniable that the morning after, things were different, something had shifted. We knew a lot of people woke up feeling a lot less welcome in this country. Much of the rhetoric used during the referendum campaign risked causing long-term damage to the work done to help refugees.
Letâs make no bones about it, thereâs a refugee crisis. It feels like weâre told daily on the news of another horrific tale, another disaster. There are currently 21.3 million refugees in the world, and close to 34,000 people a day forced to leave their homes because of conflict or the risk of persecution. This number includes an estimated 126,000 refugees living in the UK. Last year alone, the British government received more than 38,000 asylum applications.
Those huge numbers can make it hard to remember weâre talking about individuals. It can be equally hard to know how you can even begin to make a difference. Hearing about the amazing work Plus1 were doing in Germany was a turning point. Nightclubs there have been asking for just a mere â¬1 donation from those lucky enough to be on a guest list at gigs, and the initiative had already raised â¬40,000 (Â£33,000). What a simple idea, what an easy way to contribute.
A group of music journalists, show promoters and others in the industry wondered if we could make this work in London for the shows we were putting on, reviewing or attending. So thatâs what weâre hoping to do. A fantastic team of people from across all areas of music have launched Support Act, the UK equivalent to Plus1, which will raise and donate funds to two incredible charities, Road to Freedom and Refugee Action.
Itâs built on what we think makes the UK a great place: tolerance, helpfulness, generosity; being inclusive, open and patient to all people, regardless of age, gender, race, demography or location. Itâs also meant to recognise the incalculable contributions those coming to Britain have made to the economy, as well as their social and cultural impact.
By asking people on guest lists at music venues across London to donate Â£1 for their entry, we want to tap into the power music has to inspire and transform lives. We know that those on guest lists are in a relative position of luxury to make this small donation â and it will hopefully make a massive difference.
When we came up with the idea, we didnât know how receptive people would be. Weâve been overwhelmed by the support of promoters and venues across the capital â from Eat Your Own Ears to Village Underground, Bird on the Wire to the Shacklewell Arms, there have been so many people keen to get involved.
We believe that together we can create change, foster compassion and be proactive about getting aid to those in need and, in whatever small way, help provide better, safer, fairer lives for millions of people.
So if youâre on the guest list for a gig â or at a show and want to lend your support â drop a pound in when you see our collection tins on the door.
Support Act will be launched at Kamio in Shoreditch on July 14th, with Dagny and Dream Wife playing live. All tickets are Â£1.