Review: Refugee Rhymes

A night of music and poetry helps raise awareness of a worthy cause


On Tuesday 12th March, Bristol STAR, Student Action for Refugees, hosted a night of feel-good alternative music at Alterego.

For one night only, the intimate venue was transformed with colourful balloons, bunting and Eastern wall hangings inviting us inside to what turned out to be a magnificent evening for a fantastic charity.

As more and more people arrived it was evident this was a hugely popular night, so much so not everyone could fit through the door and the crowd was literally spilling out through to the bar outside. Fortunately the honesty sale of home-baked cakes at the door kept everyone happy!

Crowds pack in to watch Harry Baker
Photo: Richard Brown

Over all of this shone the bold words ‘Still Human, Still Here. The Underground World of Destitute Asylum Seekers’ projected from the back wall.

Olive Anne started the night with a powerful folk acoustic set. She was followed by Sarah Brown and George Savage, Harry Baker and Live Band and The Zeekats. The acts performed first-time material, with the relaxed atmosphere making for an experimental vibe.

George Savage
Photo: Richard Brown

The night really got off to a hit with Harry Baker and Live Band who had the crowd dancing with covers of ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’ as well as authentic music and poetry.

This hugely successful event brought in non-students and welcomed refugees free of charge. It has raised funds for and awareness of the issue and made students alert to this campaign.

STAR is part of ‘Still Human Still Here’, a movement campaigning for a fairer asylum system in which nobody is forced to live in poverty or destitution. A screening of a short film by the same name brought home this message.

Still Human, Still Here
Photo: Richard Brown

The film showed victims of violence too afraid to return home living homeless and hungry, dreaming just for a bed and the chance to work. They expressed their plight in resonant words. One man felt that he have been punished twice; physically back home, and then mentally here.

Refugees are denied GP access and hospital treatment. They are not allowed to work despite our government acknowledging that they cannot go home. One woman said, “I would like one day to be busy”.

The film made clear the government employs a deliberate policy of destitution on this vulnerable group.

STAR obviously put a lot of effort into making this a high quality event to help get their voices heard. Over £400 was raised and will go towards STAR national, to help with campaigning on issues such as destitution and detention of asylum seekers.

Bristol STAR told The Tab: ‘we will hopefully be organising more events next term (in bigger venues!) so keep eyes peeled. These will also be fundraising for local groups (such as Bristol Refugee Rights) which financially support destitute asylum seekers.’

More information can be found here and here.