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Massaoke for homeless: all together now

03 October, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Massaoke will lead a mass charity singalong at Granary Square next week

IF you wander through Granary Square next Thursday evening, you may hear the voices of several hundred people belting out classic 80s and 90s hairbrush anthems – all in the name of raising money for homeless young people.

Less than half-a-mile away, next to Somers Town Coffee House, New Horizons Youth Centre helps hundreds of young homeless people from across London, the UK and the world.

The huge singalong on October 10 – run by Camden’s cult Massaoke phenomenon, where lyrics are projected onto the big screen while participants sing along to classic tracks en masse to the backing of a live band – will be the culmination of a 10-day programme of events to highlight the work of New Horizons and raise money for the much-needed charity.

New Horizons CEO Phil Kerry said: “Every year thousands of young people become homeless often through no fault of their own. Support often isn’t there for them.

“At New Horizons they can find everything they need under one roof, getting housed, health support, finding a job and achieving economic independence.”

The 10 Days to Take On Youth Homelessness is taking over parts of King’s Cross with a series of events, many of which involve music, which is an important part of life at the centre.

New Horizons offers support to help young people into accommodation, with legal advice, advocacy, counselling, a clinical psychologist, a nurse and outreach workers.

But, says Phil: “Underneath all of that we see young people as young people first.

“Homelessness is not something that defines them, so while they sort out the complicated things in their life, they want to have fun and be like their peers.

“We have lots of fun things: a music studio, theatre, artwork, and trips around London. We want them to experience the things other young people experience.

“Our music studio is open two or three days a week and is run by a specialist music tutor.

“They can learn instruments and create their own music. We have a Soundcloud where they upload their tracks.

“There’s some brilliant stuff on there – Japanese techno punk, hip-hop, etc. It’s pretty diverse.”

One of the tracks on the New Horizons Soundcloud is Survival by Alan Smart, which will soundtrack a special video about the charity, due to be screened as part of the takeover.

“The Roundhouse is also running a beatbox/ DJ workshop session at the centre next week.

“We’re asking businesses and the community to do, discuss and donate. Do – do something good for young people,” says Phil. “For example, Frame Fitness doing fitness sessions for young people in their gym, Sweaty Betty putting on free yoga classes, free eye tests and glasses. Discuss – businesses hosting us for team meetings, lunch and learns, assemblies in local schools, all these things to get people talking about what it means to be homeless.

“Donate – we ask people to make donations via the fundraising link.

“We also have hoardings around King’s Cross and Granary Square where people can text to donate.

“The finale is the Massaoke sing your support for homelessness.”

Up to 700 people are expected to attend the ticketed event, with proceeds going to the charity. And the funding is needed now more than ever.

“Homelessness is getting worse, particularly as the weather’s changed,” says Phil.

“The amount of new young people turning up every morning is increasing. People ask me, ‘do people turn up that you’re not able to house that day?’ That happens every day – there just isn’t enough accommodation, there just isn’t enough of everything.

“That’s part of why we’re doing this, to get people talking.

“I can tell you lots of heartbreaking stories. But if you come to the centre you’ll find a lot of young people who are very positive about their lives.

“They know this is a temporary blip for them, which is why we wanted to do something upbeat and positive, because that’s what the centre is all about.

“We do want the general public to get involved and encourage people to come to Massaoke if they want.”

• Visit soundcloud.com/newhorizonyouthcentre

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