As we slide towards ethno nationalism and worse across Europe, in the US and here in Britain, it’s timely to consider the above quote. The ruling elite have always to a greater or lesser degr…
***The below blogpost shows my experience of just a couple of days of travelling alone. Although it is written about the region within the borders of Greece, I have had similar, and worse, experiences in other countries.***
My friend Albin once told me how he had taken a succession of ferries from Turkey to Italy. So when I was planning to head to Turkey again, I also booked ferries. It sounded like a more romantic way to travel than hitchhiking on grey motorways through the Balkans.
My first ferry is from Ancona, Italy, to Patras, Greece. The massive ten-floor ferry is not in the slightest bit romantic, and it is, of course, a very capitalist experience. My 72€ ticket doesn’t even get me a reserved seat, let alone a bed. People around me drink beer whilst the Italian news channel shows footage of a ‘black bloc’ rampaging on the streets…
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It had been a long wait but the day for Enter Shikari had arrived and to kill time I spent a whole day pottering around the house listening to new tunes and flicking through fanzines.
Come 7.30pm I head to the train only to be let down by our wonderful train service. Signal faults they claimed. The same signal faults that had brought mass disruption to our service for over four years. How about actually fixing the fault should be the first port of call but to the powers that be they’d rather disrupt people’s plans.
Much later than expected I manage to get to Wolverhampton and head off to the Wolves Civic. On arrival I find out I missed the opening act so I head straight to the bar.
On stage main support act Feed The Rhino were delivering a blinding metal set. Crashing guitars and bass, hard as nail vocals and a kick ass drummer certainly won the crowd over. They were certainly much tighter than I remember after putting them on myself around 5-6 years ago. Totally enjoyable set from this metal act.
Once Feed The Rhino finished their set it was straight to the bar for another beer. At nearly £5 a pint I was making sure this one lasted.
Usually when the bands change over you are treated to a number of poor tunes from artists you’d love to deprive of Oxygen but it was to be completely different last night. Enter Shikari had a number of samples and other crazy tunes with a countdown to when Enter Shikari hit the stage. Love the imagination. Top fellas.
Soon it was time for Enter Shikari to hit the stage. They hit it with style which also included a top light show. My jaw dropped at how much effort must have gone into setting this up! In fact throughout the show I was left well impressed with that lighting. Whoever came up with that lighting idea deserves a knighthood for sure!
Musically Enter Shikari delivered what was a top set from start to finish playing old their old hits and well as tunes from the new album. The crowd were loving it as much as the band were. What an amazing atmosphere. That good I ended up tweeting photos and posting video clips as the night went on!
The stage presence from Enter Shikari was madness too. Was it the guitarist throwing his instrument way up in the air and then catching it? Madness but fun to watch! The best moment for me was seeing the vocalist dance about carrying a ladder! I was like ‘What is that about?’ I didn’t have to wait long to see the vocalist start climbing up the ladder into the seating area much to the excitement of the fans upstairs. Again more madness! I wouldn’t have done something so crazy in fear of falling off!
Set list was perfect which included tracks such as ‘Destabilise’, ‘Ghandi Mate Ghandi’, ‘Juggernauts’, ‘Torn Apart’ and ‘Mothership’.
Brilliant night which even saw me head to the front and jump about like I was a teenager again.
There’s a few more dates left on this tour and I highly recommend you pop along to a show to see what all the fuss is about. You’d be fools to miss out!
Thanks to Libby at The Noise Cartel and Enter Shikari for the press pass. Very much appreciated. Thank You!
It’s that time again where we at Street Voice give you our best of ….. in 2014. A great year for authors, bands, music that it was very hard to choose. However we managed it!
Top Albums Of 2014
1. Perkie – Time Machines
I first met Perkie when I promoted a show with her band ‘Resolution 242’. Hanging out with the band at my place after the show was a good laugh. Perkie came across as a really cool lady who I liked and still like to this day. A year or so later I put Perkie on as a solo artist and I really didn’t know what to expect. When I saw her with a keyboard and I was wondering what we were going to hear. We got to hear some awesome tunes and what a voice Perkie had too! The crowd loved her! Roll on a few years and ‘Time Machines is released. What a great album! This is the album Lilly Allan should have and never released. There’s just so much to Perkie and this comes across on this album. Both lyrically and musically I can’t fault this album. So if you haven’t heard it go and have a listen!
2. Sleaford Mods – Divide And Exit
3. Erica Nockalls – EN2
4. Keyside Strike – Back From Hell
5. Autonomads – One Day This All Will Be Gone …. Everything Now!
6. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love
7. Rubella Ballet – Planet Punk
8. The Meatmen – Savage Sagas From The …..
9. The Duel – Waging War
10. Rise Against – The Black Market
Top Singles / EP’s of 2014
1. Louise Distras – Love Me The Way I am / Bullets
Louise Distras is one of the most exciting artists the UK has had to offer in years. Her lyrics and music just blow you away! A refreshing artist for sure!
2. Taslisman – Nothing Change
3. Capital Letters – Wolf
4. Sleaford Mods – Tiswas EP
5. Ten Percenter – I Could Never Say EP
Best Live Show 2014
The Selecter – Live Birmingham 02 – March 2014
The Selecter have never let me down over the past 35 years and this live show was no different. Pauline Black and co. showed everyone how a live show is played! One of the best ska bands ever!
Best Video Of 2014
Rubella Ballet – Run Run!
Cracking lyrics, music and words from this colourful Anarcho Punk band. Sid and Zillah are top people. Always looking at excellent ways to get their important message across.
Best Book Of 2014
Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism
Great book made that covers the whole spectrum of sexism ad misogyny from Laura Bate’s own words to the vast amount of tweets that are sent into the Everyday Sexism site. One of the most important books I’ve ever read. Everyone should read this – Men that means you too! I carry it everywhere I go in support of women and I use it as a tool to challenge misogynistic attitudes from men.
Laurie Penny – Unspeakable Things
Laurie Penny is a great journalist and writer who isn’t afraid to say what she wants despite the amount of grumbles I’ve read about her from manarchists and other left wing men. Unspeakable Things is a great read which goes from Laurie Penny’s personal life experiences right through to her observations on a wider playing field. Lots to talk about from feminism to riots. I certainly learned a lot from this book.
Best Campaign Of 2014
No More Page Three
Excellent campaign aiming to see the Page 3 bare breasts removed from the Sun newspaper and to be replaced by news. After all it is alleged The Sun is a newspaper and not a soft porn magazine.
There you go please check out everyone listed on this page. They deserve your support.
Many thanks to everyone who supports Street Voice UK from the PR companies who keep us busy and all our subscribers.
Merry Xmas & All The Best for 2015
ANOTHER DEAD HERO – Dystopia: Fans of RATM, Korn and the Deftones will like this Brit metal crossover album. Another Dead Hero have put a lot into this album and it shows right from the musicianship to the production. Certainly the best metal album I’ve heard in a while and it’s good to see a band take their influences and add their own ideas to give the listener something cool to listen too! Best tracks for me include ‘Change’, ‘System’ and ‘Feed Me Your Lies’. Go on give this a listen if you’re a fan of metal! 8/10
AUTONOMADS – No Man’s Land: This Is a welcome re-issue of the Autonomads debut album. Cover wise you’d be mistaking this Ska band for a Crass type band. If you did you’d be so wrong! What you get for your money is a pretty hard hitting Ska-Punk-Dub album filled with great tunes . ‘No Man’s Land’ is a strong album which certainly won them a great audience across the UK. Skankin’ around the front room was the order of the day here! A politically charged album that needs to be heard. Missing out on this would be sheer madness! 8/10
AUTONOMADS – One Day This Will All Be Gone…Everything Now!: I believe this is the second album from this Manchester based Ska-Punk-Dub band. For me it’s their best one so far. While the debut album rocks I think this one stands out as it has a much fuller sound and the band have put so much more work into this album. With the addition of Perkie in the band has also added to the charm. Here’s an album filled with diversity and you can hear that with tracks such as ‘Conditions Of The Working Class’. ‘J.C.P.’ and ‘Breadline Britain’. Aside from having well written lyrics and great musicianship I really love the production and packaging too! The Autonmads have gone out to deliver a top album and this is sure to take them to a new level. 9/10
CLEAR THE AUDITORIUM – The Final Broadcast: I’m not a huge fan of electronic music but since this had a rock edge it certainly grabbed my attention. If you like bands such as Enter Shikari and Pendulum you’ll probably get off on this South Welsh band. There’s some good tracks on here though the ones that stood out for me were ‘If We Burn’ and ‘We the Danger’. Certainly a band to look out for! I just wish other bands were as imaginative. 8/10
DIAMOND DAYS – We’ve Come A Long Way EP: Its great hearing new bands and Diamond Days are on my list to see live. Cracking band and this EP is filled with some great pop-punk tunes. ‘Let Go’ was certainly the best track by far and caught the band at their very best. Cool guitars, a driving bass line and harmonious vocals really worked here. The other tracks aren’t far behind. ‘Rewind’ is well wicked. All round good ep. Check it out! 8/10
HAND – Kintsugi: I’m not a huge Prog Rock fan but I enjoyed this album as there’s lots of good tunes on here with some great twists and tunes. With the female vocals this tales the prog rock scene to a different level as that scene is pretty much male dominated. If the band are to be judged on who they sound like I’d go for a cross between Muse and Porcupine Tree. I really am enjoying what I’m hearing now. Just have a listen to the likes of ‘Level One’, ‘Volcanic Panic’ and ‘Amazing Burn’. Top tracks though the rest of the album isn’t far behind! 8/10
JENN HART – Scraped Knees & Sob Stories: This is a great little DIY zine from Jenn Hart. It’s a quick read but Jenn’s words grab you and they stay in your head. There’s images that reflect the poems too! If you’re into poems that are personal, feminist leaning and for the environment then you ought to check out this zine. Super cool lady! 9/10
JOHNNY THUNDERS – Looking For Johnny: The Legend Of Johnny Thunders: Well you all know the know or heard the story about Mr Thunders. A mad one which involved drugs and other sad events. It’s what every young Rock N Roll band should watch so they don’t tread the same path. They can however take out the positives though which were up there with the negatives. The guy lived and breathed Rock N Roll and this is his story told by Danny Garcia the creator of this release. He travelled all over to meet the people who closest to the man himself. Lots of great stuff here from music to footage of Johnny Thunders. One DVD every Rock N Roll fan should own! 8/10
KEYSIDE STRIKE – …Back From Hell: It seems ages since Keyside Strike had done anything so this new studio album has been a much welcomed release. From the opening moments you know its Keyside Strike as these guys don’t mess around. They’re a punk equivalent of Motorhead. Keyside Strike come at you fast and hard. There’s just no messing! If only more UK bands were as good and original as these guys and we’d have a much healthier scene. No fillers on here at all. Proof of that lays with tracks such as ‘So Let It Begin’, ‘Brethren’, ‘….Back From Hell’ and ‘Whatever Did I Ever Do….To You’. There’s no other words to describe this baby as I had the Pizza Box format sent through which blew me away big time. This is just one album you really do need to hear! 9/10
LEOPARDS – Future-State-Forever: If you like Paramore you’ll love this EP just as I did. Some great catchy tunes with amazing voice from Jenna Clare who’s voice makes this EP stand out. Going on the quality here I wish the band had released an album now as every tune is so damned tasty. Check out ‘Promise Me’ and ‘Take Control’ to understand why I love this band. The effort put into this EP is second to none. A band that had caught my attention. Please do give them support. 8/10
Release Date: 23rd February 2015
LIGAMENTS – Eat Pizza EP: Never heard this band before but I’m glad I’ve been sent this ep as there are some great tunes on here. If you’re into bans like Husker Du and AFI you’ll probably enjoy this offering. ‘Eat Pizza’ has four great tunes on including ‘Precinct 13’ and ‘Turn To Acid’. These tunes I really enjoyed as they are what Rock n Roll is all about! Another UK band to look out for! 8/10
Release Date: 16th February 2015
LOST GRAVITY – S/T: These aren’t a bad band but they need to throw a few more of their own ideas as they rely too much of other bands sounds. After playing the album three times I still have the same feeling. Fans of the Foo Fighters, Metallica and Soundgarden will probably get off on it and with tracks like ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ and ‘Back Where You Belong’ I don’t blame them! There’s some well played music on here and vocal delivery spot on so yes well worth a punt for sure. 7.5/10
MATT WATSON – Grounded: Matt and I came across each via Erica Nochalls of the Wonder Stuff after I had interviewed her for Street Voice. Anyway after a brief chat Matt sent me over his album as one of the tracks featured Erica. On playing the album I wasn’t too sure about it at first but on a second play it clicked with me. Matt Watson sits somewhere in between Billy Bragg and TV Smith which will please those into the acoustic sound. Tracks such as ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Grounded’ and ‘If You Decide To Leave’ really make this album what it is. It’s an album packed with emotion. I love it! 9/10
NICK LOWLESS – Hope (The Story Of The Campaign That Helped Defeat The BNP): To mark the 10th birthday of Hope Not Hate this rather cool looking book has been published to mark that event. Not only that but there’s other reasons such as their determination to defeat the BNP amongst many other reasons. It’s through this political engagement that has seen thousands of people inspired to join in the struggle against fascism. In fact this is an exercise that militant Anti-Fascists could learn from. Nothing seems to have been missed out! I don’t agree with everything but Hope Not Hate does but this book is bang on the nail. 9/10
PERKIE – Time Machines: When I first saw Perkie play with Resolution 242 I knew there was something very special about this lady. A few years on and this album gets released that just blew me away and confirmed what I’d always said about Perkie. I suppose comparisons could be compared to a raw Lilly Allen. In fact I doubt Lilly Allen could write something this good. The music fits in so well with the excellent written lyrics. One just only has to listen to ‘Run’, ‘Assertive Anger’, ‘Things That Make Us Different’ and ‘While We’re Here’ to realise that this album is one that’s needed to be heard everywhere. In fact even though it doesn’t sound Punk it is Punk in the sense that Perkie has gone out to do what she wants without compromise. She gives it to you straight. For me that’s more than enough to justify the greatness of this album. 9.5/10
PRYTI – Tales Of Melancholic: This album just fell through my letter box and I’m blown away by what I’ve word. Pryti is a Birmingham based female solo artist who’s music sits somewhere between the Deftones and Paramore. The listening experience is amazing. Haunting in parts and passionate in other parts. Such diversity! Not one of the ten tracks on here is a filler. There’s so much love and attention which has gone into every track and on that basis this is one album that really deserves to be heard. Support the independent artists so make sure you support this release. 9/10
Release Date: 16th February 2015
THE REBEL SPELL – The Last Run: This is another wicked album from Canadian punk band ‘The Rebel Spell’ and one I’ve been waiting to hear. What a great release with such diversity in both the music and the lyrics. The Last Run comes at you like a tornado. You’re left blown away! Just have a listen to tracks such as ‘Hopeless’, ‘Pride And Prejudice’, ‘Ten Thousand Years’ and ‘Let’s Roll A Storm’. Great band and great album. One of the best albums I’ve heard in 2014. 9/10
THE SEX PISTOLS – The TV Tapes DVD: I was actually cringing at the thought of watching that as I thought the Sex Pistols back catalogue had been done to death. However this DVD showed a lot of footage I hadn’t seen and in fairness many others wouldn’t have seen either. There’s so much on here including a mad interview with Malcolm and Vivienne who contradict each other leaving the viewer either cringing for them or left laughing! There’s some great moments from John Lydon too! A great watch for anyone into punk rock! 8/10
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES – Superstition: This is the 10th studio album from Siouxsie and Co which saw them widen their musical influences for the better with the addition of Talvin Singh. Having taken Talvin on board the band certainly caught people’s attention with tracks such as ‘Kiss Them For Me’ and ‘Silver Waterfalls’. Both tracks back in the day received positive criticism from both press and the fans alike. The quality of tracks throughout saw a lift in the band. A great goth rock influenced album that sounds as good today as it did back them. What’s more it comes with some bonus tracks as icing on the cake. 8/10
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES – Through The Looking Glass: This is a covers album by the Banshees and one I never really got to be honest. I just didn’t see the point. Originally released in 1987 it’s been given the re-issue treatment with a few bonus tracks. The Banshees cover tracks from the likes of Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Sparks, The Doors and Bob Dylan. Admittedly the band add a different dimension to the original but this came at a dry period for the band. As I said not my thing! 4/10
THE SLEAFORD MODS – Tiswas EP: These guys have come out nowhere and now everyone seems to be talking about them! I’m not surprised as they just tell you how it is! The Sleaford Mods aren’t the most musical band in the world which doesn’t matter as they have so much originality in their sound. The fiver tracks on offer continue in style with my favourite being ‘Tiswas’. However ‘Bunch Of Cunts’ and ‘The Mail Don’t Fail’ aren’t too far behind and need to be heard. Loving what I hear here. Almost certainly the most exciting band in 2014! 7/10
Release Date: 24th November 2014
SLUG – Detect Denounce Destroy: Slug are a London based band mainly made up of former members of Active Slaughter. This is full on kick ass anarchist punk rock and from the very start every song comes at you like a smack in the face. Top stuff here both lyrically and musically. I must admit to being very surprised at how good this release is as most politically fuelled bands tend to bore me. All kind of subjects are dealt with here! ‘Shoot To Kill’, ‘Why?’, ‘Propaghanda’ and ‘Smash HLS’ certainly do it for me! If you’re looking for something that sounds fresh then SLUG are your band! 8/10
A little while back Pete Fender and I came across each other on the internet through mutual friends. Pete has played with some of my favorite bands including the Fatal Microbes and Rubella Ballet. The man had done a lot more too! Very interesting chap so an interview was in order and here’s what Pete had to say for himself.
Street Voice: First off Pete what attracted you to the Punk scene in the ﬁrst place?
PF: I think it was the sudden change after all that medium-style, medium tempo music in the seventies. It had become so predictable. You suddenly had this faster, heavier, growly music and people were cutting their hair and jumping up and down – it was irresistible, really. Plus, I was still only twelve years old and it was more of a teenagers’ thing, you know, so I was transﬁxed by the allure of it all being just kind of out of reach to me. I loved the sound of Buzzcocks, the attitude of Poly Styrene and Johnny Rotten. It connected with the same part of me that loved Alice Cooper and Marc Bolan, but I could tell there was another layer of angst about the way things were changing in the world. It was just so exciting, coming when it did.
Street Voice: With punk branching out in all manner of directions what attracted you to the Anarcho punk scene?
PF: It just happened. I grew up in the counter-culture, you know. Both of my parents were anarchists, long before I came along, they were activists in the ﬁfties and sixties. The CND march from Aldermaston and all that. My dad was a conscientious objector, he had printed some leaﬂets and served time in prison for disaffecting the troops in the second world war. He went to prison again when I was about six years old for refusing to ﬁll in the Census form … I was born into protest, really. I didn’t make a conscious effort towards anarcho-punk, it happened around me and I took part. There just wasn’t any question – it felt more like a sort of family loyalty than anything else.
Street Voice: What appealed to you about being in a band?
PF: There just wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. It offered everything: a means of expression, a social group – you can get really close in a band, it really is special when it works well … becoming really good on an instrument was something that meant a lot to me and I was fortunate to be good at more than one instrument so I found I had the opportunity to stretch myself. Then there’s all the fun that comes with it, you know, the fans, the craziness, the froth …
Street Voice: You played with a few bands in your time so what were the most special moments for you?
PF: Oh, they all did really memorable things for me! The ﬁrst record I did, with Fatal Microbes, is probably the single most important thing that I’ve done. The Peel session with Rubella Ballet was deﬁnitely a special moment. That was like, OK we’ve arrived … it’s a matter of historical fact, you know. Playing the Stonehenge Free Festival with Omega Tribe in 1983 was a really thrilling experience, going on at ﬁve o’clock in the morning as the sun was rising after waiting all night to play, it was quite magical … you can’t replicate something like that. I did a couple of stints playing bass with Poison Girls, the ﬁrst was in ’78 before they were widely known. I really loved that feeling that we were still underground but starting to break through, that excitement.
Street Voice: Out of all the releases you played on which one would you really want to be remembered for?
PF: I’m proud of the Omega Tribe album, No Love Lost, but it is technically ﬂawed because it was rushed. I suppose Violence Grows, the Fatal Microbes EP. I can listen to it now and I am still amazed at the rhythm part I played on that. It’s so simple, almost infantile in it’s simplicity, but it just couldn’t be more effective. That song is probably the most powerful piece I have done and I just can’t ﬁnd anything wrong with it, thanks in part to great production from Richard Famous and of course the superb vocal and lyrics from Honey Bane.
Street Voice: For me the anarcho punk scene became too uniformed / regimented and lead to its fall. However what are your feelings why so many eventually drifted from the scene?
PF: It was shot by both sides, really. It did become too rigidly deﬁned, but the scene was under attack from the police, and at the same time the beneﬁt reforms were having an impact on peoples’ social freedom. I always enjoyed the fact that the state was effectively funding it’s own loudest critics by keeping us all on the dole, but of course they knew that they could turn off the tap if it became politically acceptable to do so, so they set about bringing that to pass. As well as this, the natural waning of enthusiasm in the face of toughening odds was setting in, and gradually we all caved in and got jobs, or tried to, anyway …
Street Voice: Your mum was and still is a big name in the anarcho punk scene but did you ever feel over shadowed at all?
PF: Yes, what an immense talent! I realised very early on that I couldn’t be in the same band, that I had to do my own thing if I was to achieve any recognition of my own. I did enjoy working with Poison Girls frequently and in different ways, but it was important to me that I had my own path to tread. I think it spurred me to seek people of a similar calibre to work with and to try to produce good material. There was some personal cost, the family life that we compromised to make all this stuff happen was not in any way normal, but I tried not to feel under too much pressure as an artist because of my mum’s success with the band. Maybe a little.
Street Voice: You kind of vanished from the scene so what have you been getting up to for all these years?
PF: Well, I started very young, I hadn’t had much experience of the world outside the scene, apart from at school. It was important for me to develop as a person away from all that attention and to see what I could do about earning a living and growing up and having a family and all that stuff. I dabbled around the trip- hop scene in the mid-90s, played in a couple of cover bands, got a few producer gigs, that sort of thing, but essentially became quite domesticated and inured to regular work.
Street Voice: Did you play for any bands outside the punk scene? Politically active? Or did you just
completely move on?
PF: I had been into production and studio engineering, so I carried on with that to begin with. I helped a few studio projects come to pass without taking a lot of credit. I was involved in a few cabaret projects, some theatrical work and that sort of thing, for a short while. Political in a broader sense, you know. Alternative comedy and all that. We all did a bit of that, it was another avenue to explore after the energy of punk began to fade, and quite civilised after being drenched in beer at every gig.
Street Voice: Youʼre back and writing new material so can you tell our readers about that project?
PF: Well, there’s quite a bit of material I’ve written over the last few years. I’m going to be busy recording for a while, There could be an album in the spring, hopefully a single before then to whet the appetite. Some of it will sound contiguous with my earlier stuff, I call it anarcho-rock ‘cos it’s quite melodic but still comes from the same place as before. I do have a sound that listeners should ﬁnd familiar, but then there’s a different style as well, a little softer, more lyrical in approach. Hopefully it won’t all sound the same.
Street Voice: Will the lyrics be political or have you moved away from that now?
PF: I don’t think I can help it, really. Everything I write has some kind of message I suppose, a peculiar Viewpoint, a take on life. That’s political, isn’t it? You don’t have to be ranting about the government to be making a point. A lot of it will be in the ear of the beholder, you know, a question of interpretation. That’s the thing I ﬁnd most exciting about art, it’s not the same to everyone. A lot of my songs are very personal, they describe things that have happened to me, or to others close to me … there might be a few that some people won’t get, at ﬁrst listen. Hopefully they will be interesting enough that those people might give them a second go and pick up on it next time around. Then there will be others that are more immediate, hopefully something for everyone.
Street Voice: Are there any labels interested in your solo project?
PF: There are, but I believe in the jinx so I’ll keep mum for now. Anyway, I wouldn’t want to spoil the announcement. It should be fairly obvious to most people where I am most likely to pop up.
Street Voice: What other plans do you have for 2015?
PF: Getting a band together is definitely a priority as soon as I have the time. I’m happy to go out and gig by myself to begin with, it’s as challenging for me as it is for the audience, given that no-one knows quite what to expect, but some of it won’t quite feel right without a full band pumping it out, so that’s an immediate aim.
Street Voice: Anything you’d like to add?
PF: Thanks for the interview, it’s great to be back … don’t forget to buy my record 🙂
Thanks to Pete for doing the interview. It’s been a very cool and informative interview from a prime member of the Anarcho punk scene. I for one can’t wait to hear Pete’s new album in 2015.
I came across Amanda Bedzrah and Empower A Woman on line a couple of weeks back. Amanda and I chatted and an interview was sorted. Here Amanda talks about Empower A Woman which I believe is a great project for women. Here’s what Amanda had to say.
Street Voice: First off Amanda can you tell our readers a little about you please?
I am happily married to Francois and have three wonderful kids. I am very passionate about seeing women succeed and I believe any woman should have a chance in life to be who they want to be regardless of who they are or where they come from. My dream is to create a platform where women who are serious about making positive changes in their lives, have the opportunity to do so. This passion stems out of my own life experiences where I experienced serious financial hardship and had to struggle to make ends meet. I had to sell my personal belongings just to put food on the table. At that point in my life, I truly felt “Hopeless, Helpless and Imprisoned”. I also battled with low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Luckily, I was encouraged by my sister and a few friends to start a small business and I also did a professional certification in project management.
Through hardwork and dedication I have been able to start my own limited company and secure a number of short term contracts providing consultancy services to various NHS organisations. Today, I am focused on helping other women achieve their dreams. I am self-driven by my mission statement for change-
“Just because I can’t do everything
Doesn’t mean I won’t do anything
Even if I can only do something
I REFUSE to do Nothing”
Street Voice: What inspired you to set up Empower A Woman?
My personal experience, as well as all the other stories I heard from about other women. Also, the sudden rise in social injustice. One of the stories is from a woman is once met who had been going through domestic violence. She told me she stayed because he was a good father and looked after the kids, she couldn’t afford to do it on her own, there was no one to help her. She could leave and go to shelter for a few months, but then what? How would she provide for her kids? Her husband was the one who was British and even though she had resident leave to remain, she had no recourse to public funds so could not get any benefits. So she stayed and he almost killed her but she stayed.
That conversation haunted me for weeks. I don’t believe that a woman should suffer because she doesn’t have the ability to make choices, but yet everyday there are women in the UK whose hands have been tied due to a lack of finances. Our benefits system is a model that is not sustainable in the long term, how long can the government keep on giving money? There is a time when you can give someone in need a few few pounds to enable them feed, but there is also a time when we can give them the ability to earn money for themselves. That time is now and that is what we aim to do. We want to enable, equip and empower women the best way we can.
I believe that women are resourceful and multi-taskers by nature and what a lot of women really need is the right opportunity, just someone who believes in them and can encourage them. As a mother, you can sometimes believe that your life has been put on hold with raising kids, with the increasing cost of childcare, it becomes a very hard balance between work and kids, so if there’s an opportunity to see more of the self-employed mums who can manage the best of both worlds that’s great. If we can help women get education that can enhance their lives and lead to new careers or just give them a confidence boost, that too is awesome.
Street Voice: This looks an amazing opportunity for women so how long has it been running?
Thank you for saying that. I believe it would be a great opportunity for many women. This organisation has been running unofficially since 2010. I have been empowering women personally for many years now as I have always been there to help and support other women even when all i had was little money to invest. I was there to mentor, to guide and eventually to contribute financially. I officially launched Empower a Woman late 2014 with my own personal savings and have self-funded this dream till today. It has been hard and it has been a huge sacrifice but its been such an amazing journey so far.
Street Voice: Have you had many success stories with the women that have come through the doors?
As a new organisation, the women who have been through our doors are very excited. Empowering women is much more that financial success, it is also about holding some ones hand and saying “I believe in you” we have a few women who have started small businesses and others doing certification courses. It is very early days yet but so far, they are excited to start something new. They have hope of a brighter future and that in itself is success. Before I launched Empower a Woman, there are a few other women whom I have helped that are extremely grateful and have gone on to do big things with their lives. The truth is, not every woman has the passion to change their lives, it takes hard work and determination and sadly, some women just want things done for them and not really do things for themselves. So yes there has been some success, but there has also been people who have given up.
Street Voice: Out of interest is Empower A Woman open to all women of all backgrounds?
Yes, we are open to all women irrespective of religion or culture. We would work with any woman who is willing irrespective of their circumstances or background, so we would work with ex-offenders, women with a history of abuse etc As far as the woman is willing to change her life, we would support her the best way we can. If the circumstances are unusual and we cannot help, then we would try our best to find an organisation who can.
Street Voice: Amanda how far do you want to take Empower A Woman?
I want to take Empower a Woman to the nations around the world. Every woman that needs the help should get it irrespective of where they are. I truly believe in the need for the economic empowerment of women, I believe in women having their own small business to raise extra money, I believe in each woman having some form of education and that you can never get too old to get relevant skills and education. If I could, I would aim to empower women all around the world, that certainly is my dream. It is a big dream, but with things like this, even if only one life is changed, I still think that woman’s life is worth all the time and effort.
Street Voice: You currently deal with British women but from what I’ve read this is open to overseas women too?
Eventually we would be open to other countries once we can raise enough funds and identify the right international organisations to work with. At this moment we are predominantly focused on women in the UK. But there is always room for the exceptional case.
Street Voice: The business world is very male orientated so are women also trained to overcome such obstacles?
This is an interesting question. Women are trained to overcome anything, we are stronger than we even know. I think one of the most important things each women needs to grasp and fully understand is the strength that lies within. The business world may be dominated by men, but we are not in competition with the men. We don’t need to be. Over the years we have felt the effect of strong women like Maya Angelou, Mother Theresa and even more recently Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates. There are lots of women out there who are taking their rightful places as powerful and strong business women and there is a lot of space for many more women.
Street Voice: What plans do have for 2015 to make the business stronger?
In 2015, we are going to be fundraising a lot, the more money we have, the more women we can help. We would be appealing to individuals as well as organisations to donate to us so we can change the lives of women across the UK. We would be asking for volunteers to work with us, to fund raise for us and asking women to partner with us and make a commitment to help another woman succeed.
We would also want to reach more people using social media and make our presence known. We also want to do more marketing and get more partnerships with educational institutions as well as other organisations. In late 2015 we would look to pilot Empower a Woman in another country, possibly in West Africa. Later on this year, we are piloting Weekly interviews with everyday women who have gone on to do great things for themselves. We hope to air these interviews online. The idea is to inspire to empower. We want to encourage other women with what can be done by sharing stories of what has already been done by women just like them.
Street Voice: Anything you’d like to add?
Yes, I would love to say that we cannot do this by ourselves. It is a big dream, but it is a necessary dream. The economic empowerment of women is a big step towards the change that needs to happen in society. I would be grateful if people can go to our website http://www.empowerawoman.org and donate to us via paypal or contact us for our bank details. I would also love people to connect with us on Facebook/Empowerawoman and Twitter/Empower_a_woman
Thanks to Amanda for agreeing to do the interview. I hope you found it of interest? Hopefully many women from the UK will be inspired to check it out and get involved. I wish Amanda all the best with Empower A Woman.
Empower A Woman Website Please Go HERE