Last year I met a lovely poet called Jacqueline Saphra. Also last year and this, thousands of desperate refugees fled their homelands, a massive exodus from war, rape, hardship. In London, Jacqueline gathered 60 poets together for a Poem-a-thon - poets reading in relay, eight minutes each through a whole day in support of refugees. As a team, they raised a staggering £20,000.
Instead of crying every day at the news, I decided we should do something similar, as poets, here in Sheffield. I got a small group together to organise it. Local poets have generously volunteered their time to read and help at our own Sheffield Poem-a-thon to raise money for ASSIST who support refused asylum seekers here in the city. These asylum seekers are not allowed to work, to register themselves as homeless or to be placed in local authority night shelters. Many become destitute, struggling daily for food, accommodation and clothing. ASSIST says that:
- £5 could cover expenses for a weekend’s hospitality for an asylum seeker in need of somewhere to sleep
- £17 could cover travel expenses to enable an asylum seeker to get to medical and legal appointments
- £20 could give a vulnerable asylum seeker a week’s ASSIST grant to enable them to buy some food
On 2nd April, we have a lovely venue for our Poem-a-thon - the Art House in Backfields - with its own cafe in the city centre. Entry is free and 50 poets will be reading from 10am - 6pm. There will be a bookstall, a tombola with great prizes, tea, coffee, cakes. Please sponsor me or any of the other poets in our team. Any other cash raised through sales on the day will go to charities supporting refugees stranded just across the Channel in Northern France.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.