Unite for Ukraine

Songworks was proud to be part of Unite for Ukraine, which was a chance for the local community to stand in solidarity with those affected by the war in Ukraine and raise vital funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) humanitarian response.

Held on 13 March at St Mary’s Tower, the event was a moving mix of music, poems and personal experiences. It was organised by Songworks director Denise Dobson and Crouch End Festival director Amanda Carrara, who wanted to provide a focus for the outpouring of feeling in response to the devastating news from Ukraine. People opened their hearts and gave generously, with donations on the day totalling over £1,300 and more pledged online and by text.

The programme included an account by Elena Staig-Graham, a local British-Ukrainian parent, of the impact of the war on her family in Ukraine. Eight-year-olds Anna Malkin and Varya Eliseeva, local British-Russian girls who go to Coleridge Primary School, shared their thoughts on the war and called for peace for the sake of the children caught up in it.

“An emotional and at times heartbreaking event, but also a reminder of people’s compassion and generosity in the face of these terrible events.”

Songworks member

Poetry readings gave voice to the fears and hopes evoked by war and displacement: Crispin Letts read Resistance by Simon Armitage, Songworks member Ruth Serlin read We Are All Refugees by Margot Henderson, and Sita Brahmachari read River of Hope, a poem written by members of the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants.

As well as musical contributions by Songworks, Davies and Daughters (Sally Davies and daughters Holly and Flo) gave a beautiful rendition of Zeleneje zhito zelene, a Ukrainian song traditionally sung to welcome guests into the home.

Local MP and shadow foreign minister Catherine West gave an update on the conflict and the UK’s response, and the choir’s own Hannah Richards, who is Director of Communications at the DEC, talked about the incredible amount raised by the public to date and how the funds were being used to provide food, shelter and medical help to those fleeing the war.

As the event closed, people lit candles as a sign of solidarity and their hope for peace.

If you would like to contribute to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, visit the DEC website.

Posted 31 March 2022

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