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Last week saw the launch of a new initiative called Support Act. Aiming to raise funds for refugees via live music and based on a brilliantly simple principle, it’s not surprising that dozens of venues and promoters across London have already signed up and backed the campaign. But how does it work? Here’s co-founder Dave Rowlinson to explain more.

The amount of suffering in the world can be pretty overwhelming, so much so that it can be really easy to turn a blind eye, daunted by the scale of the problems and feeling absolutely powerless to affect meaningful change.

The refugee crisis occurring in Europe is about as pertinent example of that as I can imagine. How on earth can a world exist where humans are literally dying as they flee the destruction of their homes because other humans are refusing to give them the help they need?

Sometimes you just have to do something positive.

Support Act was born out of a collective desire to make a difference, to use our position of privilege within the music world to try and make the real world a slightly better, more welcoming place. The premise is simple, inspired by the work that Plus1 have done in Berlin, we’re asking people on the guest-list at gigs to donate just £1 into supplied collection tins. It’s that simple. It’s voluntary, of course, but we hope that such a small contribution would be something everybody would happily give. We’re so lucky to see so much music for free, and this is a chance to give something back. And, hey, if you’re not on the guest-list nobody is going to stop you chucking a quid in either. The scheme in Berlin has raised tens of thousands of euros, and we’re really hopeful Support Act will be similarly received and supported by those attending gigs.

Every one of those pounds we collect will be divided evenly between two charities. Refugee Action give refugees in the UK the support needed to start their lives again, safely in this country. They’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and it’s something which you can’t help but feel is going to be more and more important post-brexit. We’ve already seen a notable rise in intolerant behaviour since the country voted to leave the EU, which is hardly surprising given the tone of the Leave campaign. The other half will go to Road To Freedom who do their work in refugee camps, personally handing aid of all sorts to those that need it most. Take a look at their videos, they’re hugely inspiring.

The instant support and enthusiasm from a whole bunch of venues and promoters across London, and the overall feeling that this has to happen, has been both hugely gratifying and actually entirely unsurprising. It can feel like you’re dealing in redundant cliché to say things like ‘music can be such a powerful force for change’, but when the opportunity arises it genuinely feels like a positive, compassionate arena.

So, here’s that opportunity. Our collections tins are already appearing at guest-list areas across the capital, so please donate, support and act.

We think Support Act is a brilliantly simple way to make a positive difference. If you’d like to get involved and start taking guest list donations, or you just want to get in touch to find out more, then head over to http://support-act.co.uk/ or email info@support-act.co.uk.

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