Hopeful Solidarities is a collaboration between three writer-teacher-activists and community organisations we are part of in Brighton and Hove. In times of multiple intersecting crises, ranging from struggles for daily survival in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spiralling cost of living, climate change and the racist legacies of European colonialism, we explore and work alongside islands of hope. We engage with members of our community organisations, listening to people’s reflections on their own stories in the light of the present moment, and seek to build on emergent solidarities through everyday, practical and creative work including writing, film, photography, food and music.
In 2023, Hopeful Solidarities worked with Brighton photographer Natasa Leoni to create the photographic exhibition ‘Practices of Hope and Solidarity’, online and in print at Brighton and Hove’s Jubilee Library and other venues in the city. The exhibition conveys the multiplicity of spaces of hope and solidarity in Brighton and Hove in a time of intersecting crises.
Communities and organisations shown in the exhibition include Migrant English Project, Yiddish singing workshops (formerly Brighton and Hove Yiddish Choir), Brighton Reading Room, Whitehawk F.C. and Exeter Street Hall. We have recently made connections with other communities and organisations in Brighton and Hove, including QueenSpark Books and, through Natasa Leoni’s photography work, with Afrori Books, Jollof Café, Resist Glencore, Salty Seabirds and Stanmer Organics’ Future Roots Plot (details below).
In 2022, Hopeful Solidarities collaborated with Best Foot Music and Brighton and Hove Libraries, as well as Yiddish singing workshops, to organise an international music and food event in Refugee Week 2022. See a one-minute film by Jay Gearing of Red 7 Productions of the event.
Our writings so far include a blog in the Sociological Review Online Magazine, and reports about Migrant English Project and the Brighton & Hove Yiddish Choir, including a practical report ‘What refugees need: perspectives from Migrant English Project students’. Further Hopeful Solidarities collaborations are also under discussion, including with members of Whitehawk FC Ultras.
Organisations we’re working with:
Afrori Books offers the biggest selection of books by black authors in the UK and organises community events.
Brighton Reading Room provides a space where people can read, learn and share ideas that foster action and solidarity.
Exeter Street Hall is a vibrant community centre, led and managed by volunteers.
Jollof Café is a space organised by a group of people with precarious immigration status. All proceeds from the café are shared among destitute group members.
Migrant English Project provides free, informal English classes for refugees and vulnerable migrants in a welcoming, friendly space.
Resist Glencore held an event at Stanmer Organics’ Future Roots Plot in solidarity with people on the frontline of resistance against the world’s biggest mining corporation.
Salty Seabirds is a social enterprise that promotes inclusivity and diversity in sea swimming.
Whitehawk Football Club fans sing and celebrate with joy. The words “Love”, “Peace”, “No Racism”, “No Sexism”, “No Violence”, “No Homophobia” are painted onto steps at the ground.
Yiddish singing workshops at the University of Sussex Meeting House are a collaboration between students, university staff and Polina Shepherd’s former Brighton and Hove Yiddish Choir.