MUSICIANS AGAINST HOMELESSNESS ‘SIGN UP’ SIMON COMMUNITY NI!
OASIS guru Alan McGee today launches Musicians Against Homelessness (MAH) in Northern Ireland to support Simon Community.
He said: “Simon Community do a fantastic job supporting the homeless in Northern Ireland. They are incredibly dedicated and I am delighted to throw our weight behind them.”
McGee, founder of the iconic Creation Records, started MAH last year to raise money for the homeless charity Crisis.
It was publicly supported by celebrities including Lily Allen, Liam Gallagher and Irvine Welsh. And more than 500 bands played over one hundred MAH benefit gigs around the UK.
McGee said: “Last year the response was incredible but more people know about us now. We are getting people talking and taking action on homelessness in the best way we know how, through music and community. This problem will not go away. Statistics show a significant rise in the people sleeping rough on streets all across the UK.
Rock and pop stars including Shaun Ryder and Cast are already backing the cause.
Happy Mondays and Black Grape star Shaun Ryder said: “To see so many people in this day and age homeless and hungry is unbelievable. This is not Victorian Britain! As usual it’s the people who are not in a position to speak for themselves or be heard who get left behind and ignored. It’s become so common to see homeless people on the streets that maybe it’s not a shock when you walk past. Or maybe it’s so shocking that you have to look away, and try not to think about it?
The sad thing is, it’s not the public’s problem, but they’re the ones most likely to actually help the homeless than anyone in government. I’ve been through some difficult times in my life, but fortunately I’ve always had a roof over my head. If I found myself in a desperate and vulnerable position where I’d have to trust the decisions being made in Parliament, I’d be seriously worried.”
John Power, lead singer with Cast, said: “It’s great to be asked to be involved with the Musicians Against Homelessness campaign again. With so many ongoing problems in the world today it’s sometimes easy to forget the ones in which you come face to face with everyday in the towns and cities up and down the UK.”
Power, currently on tour promoting Cast’s new album Kicking Up The Dust, added: “Homelessness is a massive problem and one we can’t just step over and ignore. Let’s help bring awareness to the ever increasing problem of homelessness on our streets today.”
Simon Community NI chief executive Jim Dennison said: “We are thrilled to be working with Musicians Against Homelessness to raise awareness of homelessness in Northern Ireland. We have a huge and worsening homeless problem here, in fact, last year over 18,600 people presented themselves as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and double that number are on the social housing waiting list. Worryingly, we are seeing a significant rise in youth homelessness and a very concerning increase in the number of women who are finding themselves without a place to call home.
‘It’s important that we raise awareness of homelessness and we are confident that this new partnership, with the support of our brilliant home-grown musical talent will not only shine a crucial light on homelessness but also help our work to end it’.
Happy Mondays, Buzzcocks and The Jesus & Mary Chain were among the many bands who backed the cause in 2016.The initial MAH gigs last September and October saw local bands raise significant and much needed funds across England, Scotland and Wales, attracting national media coverage and rock press backing.
Alan McGee said: “MAH would like bands and musicians to get behind us and take part from all genres of music. We need people to come forward to organise gigs, and offer venues. The more shows we do and the more folk who take part the more we can highlight the problem.
“The homeless situation in the UK is sickening and shocking but there is a growing awareness of the desperation people at the bottom have to endure, thanks to Ken Loach’s film I Daniel Blake and the musicians who back us.
“The safety nets people have relied on are slowly and consistently being taken away.
“Cuts to benefits and unfair sanctions are callously putting the most vulnerable at risk of homelessness.
“I know people who have jobs but have to ‘couch-surf’ because they can’t afford to rent or get on the housing ladder.”
This year’s MAH gigs will run throughout September.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “I’m delighted that Musicians Against Homelessness will be supporting Crisis again this year with what promises to be an even bigger and better programme of gigs and events in the Autumn. It is great news that the Simon Community in Northern Ireland will be part of this fantastic project.
*Alan McGee famously managed Oasis and currently manages The Jesus & Mary Chain, Black Grape, Happy Mondays and Cast, among others.The maverick businessman believes the MAH campaign also gives new bands a platform, in the way that Rock Against Racism did in the 1970s.
He said: “Music brings us together regardless of politics or social standing. It’s a great leveller and a vital tool for change.The Homelessness Reduction Bill is a step in the right direction. But without the necessary funding to enable local councils prevent homelessness it will be ineffective.”
*To apply to play, host or organise a MAH gig visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/