With the recent severe weather experienced in the UK, Ireland, and across Europe, due to the “Beast From The East” and Storm Emma, the hardships felt by homeless and rough sleepers have been on the minds of many, with the news filled with stories of donated hotel rooms, emergency shelters, warm clothing left across London, and hot drinks and meals being paid for, to be used by those who most need them.
Hip Hop and Nu Jazz artist Ed Accura has released a charity single, ‘Bear A Witness’, with all profits going to Shelter. The song was inspired by a conversation Ed had with a homeless man, on a cold London street, shortly before Christmas 2016. The man, because of a series of unfortunate events, had been living on the streets for four years, and sadly died not long after the meeting. ‘Bear A Witness’ is dedicated to this man and highlights the struggles on the street as a homeless person.
We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to Ed about the single, as well as the very moving video which accompanies it.
EP: Hi Ed! You’re a hip-hop and Nu Jazz artist, but you recently released a charity single, ‘Bear A Witness’. Can you tell us something about it?
EA: This song and video pays homage to the homeless nation. I had a recent encounter with a gentleman who through a number of unforeseen circumstances had been homeless for close to 4 years.
We had a bite to eat out on a high street in North London and a short chat about his life. I went back a few weeks later to find that he passed away. This event inspired the writing of this song, “Bear A Witness”. The shooting of the video opened my eyes further to how the homeless are perceived by the public. The song is mainly about changing that perception and how we see and treat them.
EP: The video is unusual in that it features you as a homeless man with no camera in sight. What was the general reaction? Were you shocked or did it not surprise you at all?
EA: So, the video director thought it would be a good idea to leave me sitting in position for a few minutes with no camera in sight just so that I can get into character. passers-bys had no idea I was acting. Wow. People either look straight through you or at you with pity or disgust. It was a total eye opener.
EP: What has been the response after the video was released?
EA: To be honest I was very surprised on how effective the song and video turned out to be. Many people including my local vicar’s wife said that as a result of watching the video, they were prompted to stop and show an act of kindness to a homeless rough sleeper.
They said normally at best they would have probably thrown the homeless person some coins and walked on. Now these same people make the effort to showing an act of kindness.
Now this is what I’m talking about.
I must also say that I didn’t expect it to go global. We have had stories and comments from all over the world including the US, Brazil, Barbados, Japan, Ghana, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece, Italy and many other countries.
EP: You’ve got an impressive list of supporters behind the project – how can we help? Are there other ways you suggest we help, especially with the weather we’ve been having lately?
EA: We have had a huge amount of support on Twitter from the London Mayor’s office and the likes of TV celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, DJ Semtex, ex Goal keeper Neville Southall, Wiley, George Clinton, Liz Carr, Danny John-Jules and many more.
The great thing about this campaign is we are NOT asking for funds or donations.
Just an act of kindness when you see a homeless person on your daily travels.
A bite to eat, a coffee, a chat or even just a smile.
One thing I have come to notice since the beginning of this campaign is that there are a lot of good people out there already showing great acts of kindness daily and not talking about it. That’s good, but the reason why I am asking people to talk about it and share their experience on Bear A Witness is so that it creates further awareness. The more we talk about it the more others will hear about it and hopefully follow. I thought it was going to be hard convincing people to get involved but I was pleasantly surprised and I have meet hundreds more people that just needed a little awareness and encouragement to show acts of kindness.
EP: What else can you tell us about the project?
EA: I have had numerous questions about my views on how the governments are tackling homelessness to which my answer is I can’t influence the government and charities as that is above my pay grade but what I can do is encourage all of us to show acts of kindness when we see a homeless rough sleeper and share their stories on Bear A Witness
The target is to reach a million stories, comments, poems, images and simple words of encouragement by 2018.
I have been told by many that one of the reasons behind the success of this campaign is because it’s so simple. We are not even asking people to go and look for rough sleepers, just when you see one on your daily travels just don’t walk by.
We are hoping that with the help of Essentially Pop and all the other media stations, we can spread the word, create further awareness and we can in time eradicate the stigma attached to rough sleeping.
Check out Ed Accura’s Facebook and Twitter pages to see examples of further support for Bear A Witness. You can find out more from the Bear A Witness website. Please be sure to watch, share, and comment on his video and on the forum on the official website: