We may still not be sure what the Big Society means to us in our everyday lives - but some of our local businesses didn't sit wondering about this and together they made a real difference to homeless people in Folkestone throughout what has been an usually severe winter.
Way back in early December - at the start of the bad weather - it didn't take Di and Louie Burns long to start planning a series of events to raise the focus of the plight of the homeless so that people could donate items of warm clothing (gloves, coats, etc) and raise funds which would go directly to some of the homeless shelters in Folkestone.
If you don't know Di and Louie - you may know the local phenomenon known as Bluesky Pie [ http://www.blueskypie.co.uk ] whose tagline 'Regeneration and empowerment in communities through music' says it all.
On 10th December Bluesky Pie staged two gigs, one at Googies Art Cafe and the other at Homeground – featuring comedy, musicians, rappers...all coming to play and give their time for free!! Raffles were run at both venues with goods donated from as far afield as Liverpool. With Googies and Homeground donating 10% of their bar takings and TESS donating his fee for playing at Homeground – together they raised a grand total of £575 for the Winter Shelter run by the 7 churches of Folkestone.
Louie Burns also created a film to raise awareness for the Folkestone homeless cause and to make people more sympathetic to those that find themselves on the streets, often through no fault of their own.
Colin the manager of the shelter had said that funding would run out mid February so to keep the shelter open Di and Louie decided to do more fundraising events. One in Stones featuring rock bands and local hip hop artists followed by 4 DJ’s who all played and performed for free. There was also an acoustic chilled out night in Googies featuring some wonderful performers and musicians who again performed for free. Googies has continued to fundraise between the last gig and now with Keith Holland handing over more monies that customers of Googies have donated since December 10th. Alongside this there was an appeal for toothpaste, flannels, food items, scarves etc. – all for the Rainbow Centre for the homeless and those in need. All of these events, activities and fundraising brilliantly co-ordinated by Bluesky Pie.
Di Burns said:
“To borrow a phrase from Tesco, 'Every little helps' and we feel privileged to know such lovely talented people who will play for free for such a worthwhile cause, in fact we were inundated with performers all willing to give of their time and felt that the homeless were a very worthy cause to raise funds for which shows the tremendous community spirit here in Folkestone, we feel we're just facilitators.”
I have said before that there is something magic about this part of Folkestone .. because there is definitely something very good going on down there - and with Bluesky Pies help the magic may just spread much further.
Di Burns tells us a little more about Bluesky Pie:
The ethos behind Bluesky Pie is that little acts of random kindness can change the world. We reached a mid life crisis nearly two years ago where we realized we were giving nothing back into the community. We resolved to change this and started to do things for others, first staging a gig for Amnesty International and Greenpeace, we found a plethora of highly skilled musicians and bands who had nowhere to play. We started to put gigs on, maintaining a spirit of love. We started What's on Folkestone as we were sick of missing high quality gigs and events that no one knew were on, and were brilliant. Our idea behind that was to actively promote and share everyones events so that no one felt excluded.
We have tried to show people how incredible and amazing they are by offering them mentoring gigs, putting them on at small intimate venues and building confidence then by making the venues larger. We also have volunteers working in film, stage management, photography who work for free to get valuable experience in the industry. Many of the people that we have helped have then gone on to make a career, got more confidence and started to put their own gigs on.
It has had an incredible impact on the local community with people joining together and making alliances when they didn't know each other before. Networking is a big key to this, this results in a more cohesive community that actively support each others events.
As a non for profit company we don't make any money from what we do, but we get enormous satisfaction from knowing that a random act of kindness we may have shown has then spread like a ripple effect on a pond to reach so many others.
It also acts in the law of attraction, through what we have done has brought like minded people to us like the charity 'Last night a DJ saved my life' who are of the same ethos as us but work in the global community, things just seem to be getting bigger and better bit like a snowball effect through a little effort of our own. It is a really happy place to be. =)
Bluesky Pie | Googies Art Cafe | Homeground | Whats On Folkestone (FB)