Serve Up The Good Stuff
Like so many of us, I feel appalled by the current toxic, divisive and violent media and political leadership of the UK and US. Inhumane atrocities are being perpetrated and legislated everyday - from funding arms and bombing Middle Eastern countries to slashing essential health services. It can feel immensely overwhelming, frightening and disempowering to watch this play out. However I still believe and daily experience that our shared humanity has the power to connect us, even in the face of horror. In times of peril, we are called to be the biggest we can be in the most ordinary, human, grounded, on-the-level way. Whether it's offering our time, services or cash to important causes or simply making a hot dinner for a hungry friend - we can continue to serve up the good stuff on our streets and communities.
Hot Food and Love
I was immensely moved by a blog by creative life support coach and experienced Theatre Producer, Chris Grady who recently volunteered at Refugee Community Kitchen in Calais. Chris outlines how we can use our Time, Talent and Treasure to make a difference. His call to action inspired me to write a four part song, Serve Up The Good Stuff which I will be singing with my choirs during the Summer term which includes Refugee Week in June. If you or your choir would like to use this song please do get in touch - all I ask is that you make a donation to Refugee Community Kitchen.
Click here to listen to Serve Up The Good Stuff
Cooking Up Creativity
Closer to home, another project serving up the good stuff is The Dragon Cafe. This inspirational arts project was initiated by Mental Fight Club Founder, Sarah Wheeler, who felt that to effectively support mental wellbeing, arts activities needed to be set within a relaxed, inclusive user-led space. The Dragon Cafe has just celebrated 200 Mondays of serving up an all day menu of delicious food and creative arts in the crypt of St George The Martyr, opposite Borough Tube station. It's a warm, welcoming, chilled out space - a refuge of another kind where people can have a chat, massage, hot meal and explore their creativity. I was honoured to cover a Singing for Wellbeing class for Vivien Ellis. We sang amidst a hive of humanity humming with the good stuff of shared food and creativity - I left feeling uplifted, soothed and inspired.
On The Run From The Gun
There is no doubt that the issues surrounding the refugee crisis are vast and complex - issues which are further complicated by disorientating media spin. According to UN figures in 2015, 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution. In contradiction to tabloid claims that these refugees are swamping the UK in search of a free lunch, the majority flee to neighbouring countries in fear of their lives. Lebanon has taken in 50 times as many refugees as the EU, whilst being 100 times smaller, and now faces a refugee crisis of which increasingly Little Britain has no concept. (The Guardian) The migrants who do reach Europe have survived horrors and endured terrible journeys. They have a legal and human right to refuge.
Coming Home to Our Humanity
There are simple principles of humanity which can connect us across seeming divides of culture, race or creed. The principle of hospitality is one example - when receiving a guest, treat them as you would like to be treated - aside from being ethically sound, it makes for better relations, better trade and a better time of it all round. As Weyman Bennett said at the Stand Up To Racism march in Croydon this weekend, it could be any of us who suddenly has to leave their own home due to traumatic circumstances. Those who arrive here in desperation and vulnerability deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Detention, abuse, violence, suspicion, interrogation, prejudice and ignorance is not hospitality. Nor does it help alleviate or address the situations that lead to immigration. When we come home to our shared humanity, we serve up the good stuff to our friends, neighbours, colleagues and guests.
Wishing you all the good stuff this April