Anyone who spends any time on Folk Twitter will have spotted the emergence of a charitable organisation going by the name of Folk for Refugees. The brainchild of founder, Ed Butcher, the aim is to support those affected by the ever-worsening refugee crisis, raising money through musical means. As Butcher has explained, “the project was triggered by the realisation that a vast number of folk artists have written songs – even entire albums – about the experience of refugees.”
Migration is a common theme in the folk world, with traditional songs on the subject dating back hundreds of years. The feeling was that the songs these musicians commonly sing might touch on the experiences of the people we see fleeing the atrocities in Ukraine today.
To date, the project has attracted the support of a number of UK folk artists, venues and festivals, including Martin Simpson, Gigspanner, Jim Moray, Bonfire Radicals, Reg Meuross, Jackie Oates and Eliza Carthy, the expectation being that an album of songs and a series of performances will take place in the near future, with the proceeds going to support those that need it the most.
Starting the Long Walk Home
The desperate families walking at this very moment are hoping for home, and carrying their culture with them even as someone tries to put it down.Eliza Carthy
In fact, it was through Carthy’s online Clubhouse Folkroom community that the idea for their initial venture came into shape. This afternoon they announced The Long Walk Home – a fundraising hike that will begin on May 13th (starting point to be announced) and head towards Carthy’s home in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire, arriving on May 19th.
As the website explains:
“Walking in the company of folk musicians including Eliza Carthy MBE, fellow fans and walkers, participants in The Long Walk Home will raise money for the DEC Ukraine Appeal through donations and sponsorship. Every day, we will join local musicians to share tunes, drinks and stories about our journey. Daily distances will be 10 – 15 miles.”
“Eliza had the idea for the walk back in January,” says Butcher. “Back then, we were just looking for an enjoyable way to raise money for Folk for Refugees, to donate to organisations supporting refugees either side of the Channel. Since the start of the Ukraine invasion, there are over two million refugees in dire need of support, so we have decided to focus all our efforts on supporting the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine appeal.”
“Despite this being a desperately sad time, we hope this event will highlight positives: we’ll be travelling as part of a community who are always supportive, and we’ll pass through communities where we hope to share tunes & songs with the locals.”
Carthy added, “The significance of a ‘long walk home’ can’t be lost here. My home is Robin Hood’s Bay, where the walk will end, and we will be able to play our traditional folk music along the way. The desperate families walking at this very moment are hoping for home, and carrying their culture with them even as someone tries to put it down. We’ll walk and sing and play in solidarity with them, doing our very small part to highlight their troubles and hopefully make our people in power realise that our home can be theirs too, for as long as they need it.”
Anyone wishing to join the walk, in any capacity, should click on The Long Walk Home page and register their interest. The team will be in touch shortly.
For more information on Folk for Refugees, head to folkforrefugees.com.