Saturday 17 July saw a large gathering take place at Shine on Harehills Road, in celebration of summer and the cultural diversity of Harehills. The event, part of this year’s Harehills Festival, raised over £800 for PAFRAS, money that will go directly to providing services for destitute asylum seekers in and around Leeds.
The event, which was the idea of choir leader Frances Bernstein, brought together over two hundred people to enjoy an evening of music and song. Attendees arrived to the sound of steel band and were welcomed with strawberries and cream before fanning out through the building to enjoy drinks, conversation and not one but three local choirs who generously donated their time to perform a wide ranging repertoire of songs including blues, swing, and world music.
A particular treat was the Leeds premier of a suite of 3 songs about the miners’ strike of 1985, poems written by Kippax poet Jean Gittins, performed by Free Range. Other highlights included a performance by the Songo Drumming Project and open mic session, giving the evening a real participatory flavour.
Frances, whose family came to Britain as refugees from South Africa, explains that the event provided an important opportunity to inform people unfamiliar with the plight of many refugees and asylum seekers in the UK in a way that also highlighted the value of diversity: “I think many people were moved by Christine’s speech”, Frances said, “giving people a glimpse of what life can be like on the other side is important.”
PAFRAS would like to warmly thank all of those involved, Frances, Roger Harrington for compering; the Choirs (Free Range, Lawnswood Community Choir and Good in Parts); Songo Drummers and open mic musicians; the organisers of Harehills Festival for helping to promote the event; Shine for their generous support in providing a wonderful venue at cost price, everyone who attended and, to anyone we may have forgotten to name here, a very big thank you too.