If you follow me on social media, you may have seen me mentioning something called “BuskAid” over the past few weeks. So what is “BuskAid”?
“BuskAid” was the brainchild of Tadhg Williams – musician, activist, and – yes – busker. The problem of homelessness reached crisis point in Ireland in 2016. The most recent figures show that 6,985 people are homeless in Ireland at the moment. Tadhg had just attended a fundraiser for homeless charities in a local Waterford bar and, afterwards, he wondered what more the musicians of Waterford could do.
The response was – as they say – overwhelming. Tadhg enlisted my help along with three other poor misfortunates – Anna Jordan, Alan Daly Mulligan, and Meg Walsh – and together we set about organising Ireland’s first citywide busk for charity.
In three weeks!
But we needn’t have worried. The people and businesses of Waterford quickly rowed in behind us. A huge amount of volunteers and buskers signed up, and numerous local businesses offered their support – everything from sponsorship and designing posters, to offering free coffee to everyone involved on the day.
The day itself started out wet and miserable, but nonetheless, the buskers and volunteers got stuck in straight away. And then – around noon – the rain stopped and blue skies appeared. From there on in, more and more buskers and volunteers in yellow sweatshirts popped up in various spots around the city.
The day was hectic, glorious and inspirational. We had set an initial target of €3,000. Even that might have been an optimistic figure, given that this was a makeshift organisation with just three weeks to organise. As it turned out, we exceeded that, raising €4,000. We can’t thank enough our wonderful buskers, volunteers, and the people of Waterford who – once again – showed their generosity.
We’re not kidding ourselves. BuskAid won’t solve the homeless crisis. But, at a time when the Irish Government seems unwilling to do what needs to be done, it is up to the Irish people to take matters into their own hands. A group called “Home Sweet Home” did that in Dublin recently when they occupied a vacant building owned by the State and turned it into a homeless shelter. And #BuskAid did it in Waterford on Friday Dec 23.
And we’ll be doing it again in 2017. Bigger and better. Stay tuned!