Keeping it Local – T4K February Update

Hello all,

There are some definite signs of spring. Whose heart is not cheered by a host of golden daffodils, even if the clouds remain extremely gregarious? T4K is ticking along, in fact you might say that it is gambolling like a spring lamb. We are renting 5 houses and 2 rooms, that is up 2 since I wrote to you last. I have lost track of the number of people we have helped to temporary or medium term housing solutions. There is down to 3 things: your support, the community that you have built and the hard work of our volunteers.

Exits and Entries

Speaking of volunteers, we have to say goodbye to our fantastic treasurer, Jim and hello to his brilliant replacement Derek. Keeping track of the money is no small task. Not only are we a medium size charity, turning over around about £100,000 a year, which is not bad for an entirely voluntary organisation, most of those transactions are tiny. This is what happens when your funding model is recurring micro-donations and when your goal is to meet people’s basic needs. We have about 130 people on our books. Most of those people have not been provided with a home, unfortunately, but they all will have had some practical support.

£5 Donate button, a coffee cup with heart shaped steam and the legend £5 per month, #CupOfKindness

It does mean that the financial record keeping is not straightforward.  Of course, what Jim wants is that Derek’s life will be even more complicated because we will double the number of donors. If each of you manage to sign up one more friend, Derek will happily rise to the challenge. Thank you.

Events, Past and Future

Poster for Keeping it Local: Garis text in electric pink and blue against a dark background with people dancing. Text reads: Jazz du Jour, foot tapping to sultry classics, Thousand 4 £1000, The Evening Sons, Crunchy barre chords, big choruses, multi-layered harmonies. Fundraiser for Thousand for Thousand, Helping refugees in Brighton. Keeping it Local! Come & hear two great Brighton bands, March 24th 2024. The Brunswick, 1 Holland Road, Hove, BN3 1JF. Doors open 7.30pm, tickets £12.50 via Eventbrite

We have had at least one great event since I wrote to you last, the T4K quiz. It was just such a lovely event. I don’t know quite what to say about it. A bunch of strangers gathered together to be a little bit silly, eat dinner and celebrate all that is good in humanity. It raised £1700 or thereabouts, some of which has already been spent on supporting people with their fuel bills this winter and the rest of which will be spent on similar practical support. We have another event coming up on 24th March at the Brunswick. It is a music event which we are calling ‘Keeping it Local’. It features ‘Jazz du Jour’, so purist and brilliant they don’t appear to have a web presence and power-pop, future mega stars ‘The Evening Sons’ – barre chords, big choruses, multilayed harmonies. It is all yours for £12.50 through Eventbrite. See you there.

Ibrahima Bah

In a week in which we have seen the conviction for manslaughter of Ibrahima Bah, I need to remind myself of the beauty of what you have built. Ibrahima was forced to pilot an overloaded, improvised vessel that broke up as people panicked during an attempted rescue by the crew of a fishing vessel, the Arcturus. The boat had been taking on water long before the group managed to attract the attention of the Arcturus. The French coastguard had been alerted by Utopia 56 and been passed the group’s GPS position. No search and rescue mission appears to have been launched, nor was the extensive aerial surveillance of the channel deployed to locate the people in distress. Even when the Arcturus crew were dealing with people in the water, they seem not to have issued a Mayday relay. Despite this catalogue of errors, it is Ibrahima, a black teenager, who has been made to bear criminal responsibility for the disaster.

We have to challenge the injustice of the criminalisation of Ibrahima and other boat captains whilst at the same time recognise that this is the logic of the Western world’s border policies. Westminster seems united in wanting to ‘stop the boats’ and, what’s more, united in ruling out achieving that laudable ambition by simply letting people come to the UK by ferry. I know that I have made this point before, but I think that it bears repeating. The UK border is in Calais. It seems unlikely that France would object to an alteration of the juxtaposed border control agreements to allow you to claim asylum at the border and then be taken to the UK by ferry to have your claim heard. It does not take a moment’s thought to realise that such a system would stop the boats immediately. It is clear that what they want to stop are people who move without permission. In the eyes of the state, anyone who does so is already outside of the law. Although we are not there yet, the trajectory is towards what we see in the central med or the Aegean. In those spaces, people moving without permission are not treated as seafarers in distress and far too frequently are denied rescue and are even pushed back to the countries they fled. Once movement without permission puts you outside of the law, nothing the state does can be illegal. You must bear responsibility for your own death.

This is a logic that you no doubt repudiate. I think that it is nevertheless important to bring it out. It is always helpful to see what the stakes are. The ‘stop the boats’ slogan deliberately obfuscates the issue. It’s not surprising. If you ask people to choose between death and violence or making room for others, the vast majority of us, even those of us living comfortable lives, would choose kindness. In the end of course it cannot be people like me who bring the moment to its crisis. It will be a movement of the oppressed. Nevertheless, people like me can do some of the groundwork. That groundwork involves building communities of welcome. By resisting the criminalisation of Ibrahima Bah and the exclusion of his fellow travellers, we do open space where Ibrahima can bring the challenge that will truly stop the boats.

See you on the 24th, a thousand thanks,