WE SHALL OVERCOME: FOUR YEARS ON.
On 8th May 2015, a group of musicians and activists started a grassroots community fightback against the impacts of austerity.
We called it ‘We Shall Overcome’.
The idea was to use events as collection points for food, cash, clothing, toiletries, in fact whatever was needed on the front line; and to use these gatherings to stand in opposition to, and in defiance of, a government we believed was, and is, waging ideological warfare on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
It took off.
So much so, that as things stand We Shall Overcome organisers have run more than 1000 such events up and down this island and beyond, and have raised an estimated £450,000 worth of help for those hardest hit; and that help was not gathered centrally, but stayed in the town which raised it going straight to the front line of need wherever that was greatest, be it the food bank, a soup kitchen, homeless outreach, a crisis centre or a youth project. We decided from the start that you know your towns best, so you make the choice as to where you target help.
Between the Bedroom Tax, benefit sanctions, Universal Credit, Zero Hours contracts, poverty wages, and a targeted destruction of support services, the government, coupled with a hostile media, have managed to inflict deep and lasting wounds on our communities while being cheered on from the gallery.
But the help we have raised is only the quantifiable outcome of our collective efforts.
What We Shall Overcome represents is a unified response to austerity at the grassroots. It has taken literally THOUSANDS of organisers and activists, musicians and poets, speakers and artists, and it is a wonderful thing. The beauty of We Shall Overcome is in the ‘We’.
So in the long shadow cast by Brexit, where all eyes are on leadership elections and potential outcomes, there exists an island sliding ever deeper into poverty and escalating need for ordinary people to fight back.
And we will.
As We Shall Overcome enters its fifth year we are needed more than ever. We are appealing for new organisers, new activists, new venues and new communities to step forward. All you need is to be that someone somewhere who does something about it. The rest is easy.
Just get in touch.
No event is too small. No gesture is insignificant, because when you add all those seemingly insignificant gestures together, they become something very significant indeed.
They become We Shall Overcome.