We’re delighted to announce we’ve got a final bonus episode of our podcast series, ‘Challenging by Shelter’.
Critically acclaimed musician Pete Williams, formerly of Dexys Midnight Runners, has supported Shelter for many years. Having lost friends to substance misuse, and feeling a close affinity to Shelter’s work helping people who are homeless, have multiple, complex needs or are experiencing housing issues, Pete has been interviewed by our very own former Peer Mentor Lee – whom many of you will be familiar with as the host of our podcast series.
Between them, Lee and Pete cover topics such as multiple complex needs, including substance abuse, as well as social housing. If you’re not familiar with our podcast series yet, read our blog on the Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service model. The programme hired people who’d overcome homelessness and other complex needs to help entrenched rough sleepers.
Pete is kindly donating the proceeds of donations from his new single ‘ROAD’ to Shelter. He felt moved to write the song after taking a walk in Birmingham and being struck by the number of people rough sleeping. The track has been released free of charge, and those who’d like to do so can make a donation to Shelter.
Pete describes his ambition for the track, and the reasons behind the launch:
‘I went for a walk through my city of Birmingham on a sunny afternoon in October 2018. I was struck by the number of rough sleepers there were, huddled in doorways and alcoves, in damp sleeping bags, and flattened cardboard boxes giving small comfort or insulation from the cold concrete floor.
Winter closing in
I was approached many times that day for some small change and helped where I could, hoping the money I gave might go towards something warm to eat or drink, or maybe the bus fare to somewhere that offered a safe place and shelter.
All human life, so many different stories and circumstances
I’ve never been homeless and have only had to sleep rough on a couple of occasions, when I’ve missed the last train and ended up stranded, with a long night ahead of me and no money. In my early twenties, I lived in a bedsit flat on the outskirts of the city. As well as the loud, human ‘comings and goings’ that went on 24 hours a day, the house had rats and mice in the walls that would scurry around my tiny room and keep me awake at night.
I often used to walk down to the all-night Rendezvous Cafe, make a cup of tea last for hours and do crosswords. I’d spend days in the library reading and trying to write.
How Shelter helps
Shelter has been helping homeless people for more than 50 years, and continues to lobby for decent social housing and fair rents. I went to an Exhibition to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in Birmingham. It featured some incredible photographs by Nick Hedges. I introduced myself to the organisers, and was later asked to sing a song at their annual Christmas Concert, featuring the ‘Choir with no name’, and with the Lord Mayor in attendance. I’ve taken part in these events for the last three years.
I’m releasing this track ‘ROAD‘ because I wanted to do something that might help the thousands of voiceless, invisible people that are facing an extra bleak winter this year without a roof over their heads.
One thing that stayed with me during those dark days, avoiding the mice in my flat, was something I read in a book of Bert Brecht poetry.
“All that lives, needs help from all the rest.”
Please help if you can.’