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Features / Musicians turn out in solidarity with refugees

The Dirty Lemons performing at Islesburgh as part of yesterday's Solidarity Through Music fundraiser. Photo: Chris Brown

SOLIDARITY Through Music managed to raise over £1,000 for refugees on Saturday in a packed eight-hour fundraising event featuring over 10 musical acts in Islesburgh.

Artists who had turned out to support the cause covered the whole spectrum of music in the isles, included Lisa Ward, the Donald Anderson Band, the Blue Melts, the Dirty Lemons, Full Swing, Deja Vu, Annalie Irvine, Alan McKay and Robert Bennet.

Billed special guests Skerryvore, unfortunately, had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict, but made sure to give a donation. Amnesty Shetland members were on hand to lend their support and councillor Gary Cleaver was sound engineer for the day.

Shetland again demonstrated its famous generosity towards good causes with locals showing up en masse to get a look at the acts on show, and over a dozen local businesses contributed towards the raffle “without hesitation”, including a grand prize of a £500 mattress of choice from Home Furnishings.

Full Swing were another of the many acts who turned out to support the event. Photo: Chris Brown

Also hugely popular were small, card tags for people to write ‘messages of hope’ for the refugees, which will accompany the emergency supplies being sent to camps across Europe, to remind the recipients that Shetlanders support them.

The event was set up by Shetland Supports Refugees, which was founded in September as part of a wave of new activist organisations that have sprung up across the UK in recent months in response to what has been described by both the UN and the EU as the “worst refugee crisis since World War Two”.

Shetland Supports Refugees founder Wendy Sinclair said that the group’s aim is to try and bring various organisations together in the common purpose of helping support the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by wars across the Middle East and Africa.

While raising aid for refugees in need across Europe and beyond, the group plans to raise awareness and educate people in Shetland on the issues, and, eventually, help any refugees who are resettled in Shetland to integrate and feel welcome. The SIC, along with all other local authorities in Scotland, recently pledged to take in and help resettle refugees.

Wendy was “overwhelmed” at the positive response the group had received for the event, and said that this was “the first step” in raising awareness among Shetlanders of a highly complicated humanitarian issue.

“People think that they’re going to take away from the local housing stock, or take up too many local resources… separate government funding has been made available to secure them places to live so they won’t be taking away the council houses.”

Wendy went on to explain that each area will only take refugees whose needs they can already handle – and that somewhere like Shetland would not be expected to resettle anyone who had complex medical, mental health or counselling needs as these could not be adequately met in the isles.

“Half the battle,” she says, “is fighting the misinformation.”

For those that are settled here, Wendy hopes the generosity and good will of local Shetlanders will help them build a new and happier life. Saturday’s response suggests they’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Alex Garrick-Wright

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