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The Angel FreeHouse and Microbrewery, August 2017

One of the best fundraiser gigs I can remember. Sudanese refugee poet M.O. AKA The Dream, I was indeed stunned by the powerful grace and eloquence of his verse, and this is by any standards of World poetry. Massive Love, Respect & Solidarity
— Geoff, Nottingham
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Hope of arriving in my home

We were hugely proud to launch The Welcome Tent tour in Nottingham, this our adopted home for many years - Sparky was born nearby in Rutland and I studied Law and French at Nottingham Trent University.

Poet Mohammad AKA The Dream who we had first met two years earlier in Calais, read again in Nottingham the poem he read to us on that first day, and again it touched our hearts. His words, "the hope of arriving in my home, where my tears are my own", articulate the dream of so many. 

Our experiences in Calais and the people we met there had a profound affect on us, and now here we are, having quit our jobs and our lives in the UK and heading on the journey of a lifetime with The Welcome Tent. Behind the scenes, a crew of people from all over the world, many who have travelled long and arduous journeys to make it to safety, volunteering alongside current UK residents who are seeking freedom and justice for all.

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The Legend lives on

The Angel Microbrewery, a beautiful and historic building which has recently undergone its own transformation, was the perfect setting for our event to be opened by Robin Hood with support from volunteers from Nottingham Refugee Welcome Group.

Chai tea and doughnuts were served on arrival and later a Sudanese taster plate which was ‘Bazinjan’, fried aubergine with peanuts, ‘Foul Madamas’, broad beans with cheese, egg and coriander and ‘Adas’, spiced lentils. Abdulaziz joined us on Saturday afternoon to prepare, travelling down in a car share from Newcastle with a Scottish football fan on a day trip to Derby. We shopped locally, exploring the international food shops in Forest Fields. 

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Later in the afternoon was a delicious Persian dish, prepared by Nahid, mum of Parisa, performer and founder of Nottingham-based Acoustickle music collective. Nahid came to Britain as a student in the late 1970s and political problems meant she couldn’t return to Iran. She stayed in the UK but would have loved to have returned to her homeland. She prepared an Iranian National Dish ‘Ghormeh Sabzi’, which normally would have lamb or chicken but the flavours work just as well vegetarian. The ingredients for this stew were kidney beans, fried fresh herbs, dried mint and dried limes and it was accompanied with Saffron rice and Salted yoghurt with rose petal and raisin and cucumber. 

But what starts with a community who loves food, also becomes a space for learning from each other through other universal languages. The Welcome Tent celebrates our shared humanity through the arts, poetry and music: the incredible lineup of musicians, speakers, poets and artists who supported our launch at The Angel really speaks for itself.  

What really shows how great an afternoon it was were the magical moments of spontaneous collaboration, where people shared stories, art and music. As performances were happening, Myriam Weisenfeld a French artist documented stories and song through live pen and ink drawing.

Hamsa, one of the lead singers with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with accompaniment by Feras Shoufan, opened the day with her first public performance in English and ended with a beautiful medley 'gift' for the Syrian people. Gulwali shared his incredible story, which continues to inspire as he now heads to Coventry University to study a Masters in Public Administration. Mohammad shared poetry about his experiences of the journey from Sudan and arriving in the UK.  An impromptu collective performance of Mathematics, Hollie's poem with over two million hits on YouTube exploring immigration, complimented her readings from recent publications Nobody Told Me and Plum. Parisa East, daughter of Nahid, social activist extraordinaire and founder of Nottingham based Acoustickle, created musical magic alongside Chai Larden. Laura Khoury, 17 years old and recently arrived to Nottingham from the Middle East, performed on the guitar drawing from her own personal experiences of arriving in the UK. 

Equally inspirational were the exhibitions and live art from Laxmi Hussain who exhibited her incredible 'Blue' Exhibition, from which she will be donating sales proceeds to The Welcome Tent, while printing hand-cut The Welcome Tent ink stamps on tea-towels; and Gladys 'Chav' Harvey's Paper People were created to the incredible tunes of DJ Kat Richmond playing music from people escaping conflict worldwide. A collection of beautiful and timeless Palestinian artisan goods were on sale from Souk.

It was so lovely to meet you, as well as the others. Thank you very much for such wonderful opportunity to be part of such wonderful event
— Salaheddin Abu Ein

At one point Sue described how she encouraged children in the 'jungle' to express themselves through art and one day met a lad who communicated using Hamsa's music: Sue met Hamsa in The Welcome Tent. Where Laxmi met Hollie. Bagzad met Rob. Myriam met Mohammad. Hamsa met David Keys and performed the most incredible music together in the street. Where Gladys met Gulwali. Where we all met the real Robin Hood. It was these spontaneous moments that were truly special. The Welcome Tent - where people arrive as strangers and leave as friends.

 A brilliant, informative and insightful event. We were all inspired by your efforts and dedication. Certainly let’s stay connected and continue your good work -  Gulwali Passarlay

A brilliant, informative and insightful event. We were all inspired by your efforts and dedication. Certainly let’s stay connected and continue your good work - Gulwali Passarlay

Mathematics

He says
”those god damn pakistanis and their goddamn corner shops
Built a shop on every corner took our British workers jobs
He says those godamn Chinese and their goddamn china shops
I tell him theyre from Vietnam but he doesn’t give a toss
I ask him what was there before that damn Japan mans shop
He stares at me and dreams a scene of British workers jobs
Of full time full employment before the godamn boats all came
Where everybody went to work full time every day
A British Business stood their first he claims before the Irish came
Now British people lost their jobs and bloody turkish are there to blame
I ask him how he knows that fact he says because it’s true
I ask him how he knows the fact he says he read it in the news
Everytime a Somalian comes here they take a job from us
The mathematics one for one, from us to them it just adds up
He bites his cake and sips is brew and says again he knows the spot
The godamn Carribeans came and now good folk here don’t have jobs
I ask him what was there before the goddamn Persian curtain shop
I show him architectures plans of empty godamn plots of land
I show him the historic maps
A bit of sand, a barren land
There was no goddamn shop before those pakistanis came and planned
Man
I’m sick of crappy mathematics
Cos I love a bit of sums
I spent three years into economics
And I geek out over calculus
And when I meet these paper claims
That one of every new that came
Takes away ones daily wage
I desperately want to scream
”Your maths is stuck in primary”
Cos one who comes here also spends
And one who comes here also lends
And some who comes here also tend
To set up work which employs them
And all your balance sheets and trends
Work with numbers not with men
And all your goddamn heated talk
Ignores the trade the Polish brought
Ignores the men they gave work to
Not plumbing jobs but further too
Ignores the ones they buy stock from
Accountants, builders, on and on
And I know it’s nice to have someone
To blame our lack of jobs upon
But immigrations not as plain
Despite the sums inside your brain
As one for one, as him or you
As if he goes, they’ll employ you
Cos sometimes one that comes makes two
And sometimes one can add three more
And sometimes two times two is much much more
Than four
And most times immigrants bring more
Than minuses.
— Mathematics, Hollie McNish, https://youtu.be/bJX5XHnONTI
 Laura Khoury
 It was so lovely to meet you all, hope we cross paths again - Laxmi Hussain, https://www.thislakshmi.com/

It was so lovely to meet you all, hope we cross paths again - Laxmi Hussain, https://www.thislakshmi.com/

 Thankyou so much for the invitation to play. I really enjoyed the whole day -  Kat Richmond

Thankyou so much for the invitation to play. I really enjoyed the whole day - Kat Richmond

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 "Thanks a lot for everything. It was our pleasure to be with The Welcome Tent", Hamsa Mounif and Feras Shoufan 

"Thanks a lot for everything. It was our pleasure to be with The Welcome Tent", Hamsa Mounif and Feras Shoufan 

 Thanks so much everyone. It was a great laugh. I had a great time collecting bodies -  Gladys Chav Harvey, Paper People  and Bagzada King Barber

Thanks so much everyone. It was a great laugh. I had a great time collecting bodies - Gladys Chav Harvey, Paper People and Bagzada King Barber

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Thankyou to the Nottingham based projects who came along to the event. Caroline from Bras Not Bombs is on the look out for a volunteer team and good quality brassieres and knickers for refugees all over the world; Francis is on the look out for guitars for restoration and lessons with refugee communities. Also attending was the Young People’s Project which is part of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum and Bill and volunteers from the Nottingham Welcome Group and the Red Cross.

Thankyou to everyone who made this event happen: Ben, Steve and the team at The Angel Microbrewery; Robin Hood for a legendary welcome to Nottingham; Parisa and Geoff for spreading the word; the incredible performers, artists and musicians who gave up their precious Sunday afternoons in between busy summer Festival circuits; David Keys for the amazing piano music in the street outside; Nahid, Abdulaziz and Mohammad who prepared such delicious food; support from the Persian Supermarket in Radford Road and international volunteers who shared the food around. Thankyou to great friends behind the scenes - Duncan for the photography, Charley, Gib, Rob, Hannah, Sarah, Little Rach, Joshi, Nick 'Beardo' and the techno whatsapp crew. Also thankyou for the inspiration from people who could not be there with us - you were definitely with us in spirit.