September to November

photograph from ‘Manifesto’ workshop at 2022 Trust Your Artist Retreat – (see below)

But compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides. Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality. Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us. Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.

Mark Nepo 

Trust Your Artist 2022/ New Album work (Grenfell demo) Pakistan Open Mic/ Derwentside immigration Centre and Rwanda/Solidarity and Song night/ SDCAS Garden/Quaker Children’s Meeting/

Hello, I hope this finds you ok. I chose the Mark Nepo quote for this post, after another one of Nepo’s I used for the quiet space this week: There, in the silence that’s never quite silent, I realised that, if there are at least seven thousand wants to speak, there are at least seven thousand ways to listen. I almost used this and then came across the above, note to self: read some more Mark Nepo! I read Book of Soul a few years ago and have for a while imagined reading more. I remember it being in my bag, do you ever get that with books, how it feels so comforting to carry them around?

Compassion. it’s a hard call sometimes I know… I feel blessed these last few months to meet some sincerely compassionate people, I believe it is in us all. So why does it matter and why am I writing about it? I’ve been reflecting these last few months on how best to be present for my self and others in a meaningful way and compassion is one of the things that keeps returning as a theme in my reading and conversations. 

So what is Compassion for you?: I like this explanation, as buddhist Joan Halifax says here, recording for WomenTed – it is that capacity to see into the nature of suffering…and see I’m not separate…and aspire to transform it… not to be attached to outcome. In there I feel a no nonsense strength.

It seems opportunities to practice compassion come again and again; a friend whose relationship goes again and again through cycles of misunderstanding, people I work with stuck in the UK asylum system, another friend faces depression daily at the moment, all the human family, our human family. Oppression in society is real, division is real and with it a host of mental health issues – and I’m speaking as someone who lives to my means, I’m comfortable enough, eat well and have loving supportive community of friends and families who are also I would say, doing ok mostly. I aspire to, and am inspired by, our ability to maintain places of stability and openheartedness, to stop and breathe in these tense times, finding again this place of strength, love and remembering something deeply human – that we hurt together, and what do we do with that, compassion I think, and from it action.

 I wonder what you think? I’d love to hear from you

I wanted to start by giving thanks to my friend Larissa who, twice a year for the last 6ish years has spent a week with me and dreaming up ways to open people to their creativity- something that fills me up each time. We started WUYA (Wake Up Your Artist) back in 2016 and 30ish something 18-35 year olds arrived to the EIAB in Germany to see what it was all about. 2 days before Larissa and I had been sitting on the grass of the EIAB wondering the same 🙂 we did have ideas, many ideas, and as it came clear to us we had an affinity, it felt we were at the beginning of a new adventure.


6 years later we’ve grown through this adventure; all the paints, songs, dance, poetry, games, tears, laughter, group hugs, silence…it’s a moving mix. The retreats will run again in 2023 in Spring (WUYA 18-35yrs) and in Autumn (TRUYA – Trust Your Artist – all ages) You don’t have to be more than interested in creativity to come along, -we also fundraise for places for someone with a refugee/migrant background, please let me know if you’re interested or know someone that would benefit from this ‘Welcome Ticket’

I’m currently recording my second album and wanted to share a little of one of the songs. Grenfell, about the tower fire in London that brought attention to the saddening negligence of decision makers around social housing building regulations. The trial continues and the inspiring community that formed around the disaster continues also to give voice to their experience. I wrote the song after attending memorial walks. If you had any experience of this time, I’d love to hear from you

With Cop27 in Egypt closing some days ago there is, as with Cop26, again disappointment on many of the outcomes; Carbon Emission targets and the shoring up of agreements around phasing out fossil fuels. Amid this though, something significant has shifted, as a Loss and Damage fund has been set up for the first time, allowing countries most affected to receive resources from richer countries. What I like about the concept of LandD is that it addresses responsibility directly, using money as a means of restoring some kind of balance. Many countries and organisations have been calling for it for years. While it has been established though, details of how it will be paid into and by who is yet to be decided This open mic, (poster above) was a small contribution myself and some friends made to the day. Thanks so much friends who were present, great to see you, hear you play. Campaigns as above (MPP) will continue to give voice to it’s importance.

If you are a musician, poet, story teller who would like to be a part of open mics in the future, I’d like to put on more for this and other causes, please let me know.

The campaign continues at Derwentside Immigration Centre in County Durham, now the largest women’s detention centre for those the home office are calling ‘failed asylum seekers’. My instagram post below describes the last national day of action and here’s a little music from the day, good to play with you Bethany Ellen. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh comes to mind, “We fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit”

I also found this podcast by Migrants Organise that explains detention, interviewing women from Women for Refugee Women who had been detained, if you’d like to know more about it, I recommend a listen. I also have a sharing page about migration if you have anything you’s like to share

The night was followed by a show at the Tyneside Irish Centre in support of the strikes – Bethany deserves another thank you for the lift there. Involved in The Martin Luther King peace movement, I’m touched by Bethany’s artistry – with a life of music and words in the direction of peace and understanding. Our connection over MLK’s work and how the relationship developed with Thich Nhat Hanh during the war in Vietnam, someone I’ve been reading for years, came together in conversation as we rolled with the North East Countryside that evening.  I’m promising myself some recording and conversation with Bethany at some point.


Readers of my instagram will have seen updates about the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers (SDCAS) garden, an allotment plot in the community allotments in South London. I wanted to share about the huge joy I get from it and share the photograph project. Since 1996 SDCAS has been running drop in day centres for people in the Asylum System, providing free support as they negotiate their time awaiting a decision in the UK. This is a process that I have come to understand, can take up to 10 years, sometimes more. It varies but certainly +1 year is normal. Centres like SDCAS become a life line, giving advice on claims (asylum claim) as well as getting people access to health care, education, support with housing and other services, I take my understanding of all these things for granted, it can be overwhelming to sort out as a visitor. Along side these essentials, the centre offers art therapy, mindfulness, English classes through story telling, a warm meal (such good food from our chef), clothes and 2 garden projects, one of which I run on a Thursday.  I’ve been hoping to give a little window into the sessions while respecting the privacy of our clients, so I have been sharing a little of our conversation and activity as below. I learn so much from their hope, optimism and resilience. I am so glad they are there. If you like to be involved there are different ways: donating, volunteering, learning: see SDCAS for more. I’m also always on the look out for songs to sing with my gardeners so please send any suggestions my way.

Another project currently I’m currently regularly involved in, and close to my heart, is The Westminster Friends Online Quaker Children’s meeting. A lock down project now continuing every other week sees children up to the age of 12, myself and a few parents, getting our heads around life’s big questions as asked by the children: here are a few I think are brilliant examples: What was the Big Bang?, Why do people get addicted to things?, What’s a food chain?, What’s your favourite food? What is mental health? Why do people get married? Could you answer these ??! We try together with some help from friends of mine dropping in, YouTube videos and, importantly to Quakers; having time/space to reflect and say what we think. It’s open to anyone so please let me know if you have little people in your life who you think might benefit.

take care friends, thanks for reading.


All releases available physical*/download I’d be honoured to send them to you –
click the image below and follow the links to a request forms…

(all releases on donation guide of £10 if you have the means, if you don’t just ask – glad to send to you or a friend anyway –

*I can make cds, otherwise a physical release is eco printed artwork/lyrics to accompany listening, stream or download)

‘fine songwriting’ 

Tom Robinson BBC6 Music

‘gorgeous, pure, absolutely lovely’ 

Sarah Gosling BBC Introducing/ 

‘pure poetry’ 

David White BBC Introducing

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