In 2021 and 2022, Hopeful Solidarities worked closely with Migrant English Project (MEP) and Brighton & Hove Yiddish Choir. As members of these two groups, and responding to surveys and semi-structured interviews with fellow members, our cultural activism has included a music and food event in Refugee Week 2022, organised in collaboration with Best Foot Music and Brighton and Hove Libraries, as well as Yiddish Singing Workshops organised with the University of Sussex Students Union and Meeting House and Chaplaincy. 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’. We are currently planning a photography project with the aim of creating accessible exhibitions online and in public spaces that will convey the multiplicity of spaces of hope and solidarity in Brighton and Hove in a time of intersecting crises. Further Hopeful Solidarities collaborations are also under discussion, including with members of Whitehawk FC Ultras.
Information about the Brighton and Hove organisations/initiatives we have been working with is given below, followed by a one-minute film by Jay Gearing of Red 7 Productions of the Refugee Week event.
Migrant English Project (MEP): For nearly 20 years MEP has provided an inclusive, welcoming and supportive space for refugees and vulnerable migrants in Brighton and Hove. The project offers free English lessons, as well as sewing, gardening, arts activities, and help with practical issues. It is run entirely by volunteers and students in a non-hierarchical structure, underpinned by shared values and political solidarity with migrants in the face of racism and punitive migration controls. During Covid-19 lockdowns, MEP moved its activities online and provided additional support, including emergency food deliveries, doorstep gigs and social meetups.
The Brighton & Hove Yiddish Choir: Through its music and national and international links, the Yiddish Choir has produced solidarities within the city and beyond, inspired by a wide range of Yiddish music, including songs emerging from the despair of Nazi ghettoes and fierce resistance to capitalist exploitation. During the Covid-19 lockdown, choir members continued determinedly to sing on Zoom, with each other and singers across the world, forging new creative links.
Film (one minute) – Refugee Week event 2022