On the 23rd of March 2022 at Conway Hall, London UGiveHope had an in-person event, not unlike the online events that started in April 2020. They were initiated by Dr Yansie Rolston Associate Director of Heath & Wellbeing at The Ubele Initiative, and became a regular Friday night love-in for regulars during the pandemic.
However, meeting in person was different. We all had the pleasure of reassessing our online companions in the flesh, as to how tall or short, how slim or wide. Infectious smiles remained as seen on screen, on those grey Friday nights when for many in isolation, UGiveHope provided inspiration. So, the extroverts were no less so in person, than were the introverts.
We all hugged and greeted each other, and on an unusually warm evening in April 2022, we did what we did best throughout lockdown. We shared love and supported each other; we vividly recalled the difficult times during lockdown. We noted the many challenges of depression, isolation, bereavement, grief, and sadness many friends and relatives were experiencing. The intense longing for loved ones who were overseas and inland too, as travel was embargoed. My son came to me in December 2020, we spent our best Christmas together. When we were all told that only essential travel was permitted, I worried that he might be hauled off the train as we planned his journey, but he travelled from South to North undisturbed. I know of women who cried because they felt that they couldn't travel 80 miles or so to be with children and grandchildren during Christmas. They decided to follow the rules, and now months later we find that many in high office broke the rules multiple times.
UGiveHope broke cycles of depression, and eased a sense of loneliness and isolation for many that could have otherwise engulfed a person. A few came close to the brink, and were able to benefit from direct support from Dr Yansie Rolston, and the referral services that UGiveHope supplied. Well-wishers came from all around the world, with two minutes of positivity from global voices posted on UGiveHope Instagram page. We broke our own records when UGiveHope views over Zoom, Facebook and YouTube hit our highest viewing figures on the 20th Nov at 1300. We often danced into the night with the DJ spinning, once the acts were done. Amazing what can be achieved from the comfort of your own home.
The performers came from 31 countries from around the world to complement our home-grown talent. Brain Quavar managed the production of all events bringing people from the UK, USA, Reunion Island, Cameroon, Netherlands, Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad, St Lucia, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, DR Congo, Code d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, Canada, Columbia, Honduras, Sierra Leone, India, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Australia, St Kitts, Monserrat, Suriname, Garifuna, Tobago. The youngest artiste was 13 years old and the eldest was 90.
Performers included Calypsonian, Alexander D Great and his wife Poet, Wil Joseph-Loewenthal; Femislide, Nigerian Jazz Band; Singers from Cameroon; R&B artists; signed and unsigned acts; Poets; Rap Artists; Instrumentalists; The Black Ventriloquist, Owen Reid, who had us all in stitches; Miss Myrle, an established Poet who sometimes hosted alongside SuperTriniVibes our resident DJ. The performances were only ever interrupted by internet connectivity issues most with overseas performers. But they were as enthusiastic to perform as we were to hear them. New audiences emerged, and another star was born, as in the case of Amanda E. Inniss who was inspired to write poetry after attending her first few events and continues to write to this day. It was such a joy to see Amanda performing live and learning of her being inspired by attending the event on a regular basis, building a body of work that is now ready for publishing.
Here is one of her poems from her collection now ready to be published.
As I raise my head to welcome a new day
I stand, both feet grounded to absorb healing rays
Everything I thought I knew, now has changed
I wondered if I would ever survive
Through the long days of endless nights
To reach this moment, to gradually feel sunlight
New colours fill my tear-stained view
For now, I look beyond me and you
The future once barren, once bleak,
Forms new summits and new peaks
I no longer cry, I no longer weep,
For I am stronger, I am grateful
And I am living with hope renewed
For this moment in my life, I carry on without you.
AMANDA. E. INNISS (2021)
Prior to Commercial use of images please contact the photographer.
Wherever images are shared please acknowledge and credit the photographer Brian Quavar @DBeautyCapturer.
by Yvonne Witter FRSA, Manager BMC Enterprise Development Programme