Blog Archive

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Elbow Out Ebola is a new campaign initiated by BARAC UK and is chaired by Lee Jasper, Co-Chair of BARAC.

Sign up to the Elbow Out Ebola conference on 5th of December using the link below and support the global day of action. 

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                         November 2014

Launch of Elbow Out Ebola Peoples Campaign


The Elbow Out Ebola Peoples Campaign is a newly established, broad based peoples movement, initiated by the UK based, Black Activists Against the Cuts (BARAC) movement. The campaign is made up of both grass roots organizations and individuals who have come together to explore what can be done to support global efforts to respond to the Ebola global medical emergency.

After a recent initial meeting in London, to explore the issues and after much discussion among individuals and organisations, it was agreed to formally establish and publicly launch this important people’s campaign.

We strongly believe that ordinary people can make a real difference to the lives of the people of West Africa. A global people’s movement was thought the best vehicle to both help raise much need funds for projects working directly on the ground and address the longer term political issue of driving sustainable development agenda in the region.

A Global Call to Action:

This is an urgent call out to the people of the world on behalf of the people of West Africa to come together in a grass roots people’s movement to aid the peoples of West Africa.

Governments will only do so much without political pressure from people. It’s vitally important that we ensure that the world is no doubt of our demand for increased action to respond to the current crisis and agree a longer term plan to establish a regional health network in West Africa.

Our goals are simple;
·         To call for a Global Day of Peoples Action on Ebola to take place in the spring of 2015.
  • To campaign, lobby globally in partnership with others, to agitate, educate, Governments, institutions, agencies and civil society for concerted global action to one of the gravest medical emergencies the world has ever faced, the Ebola virus.
  • To campaign for a sustainable global development agenda for the establishment and creation of a regional health care system in West Africa.
  • To challenge the myths surrounding Ebola.

Elbow Out Ebola; A Global Emergency:

In Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, people no longer shake hands when they meet and greet each other, preferring to avoid each other or to briefly touch elbows in an effort to avoid infection for Ebola.

Touching elbows has now become a local tradition in parts of West Africa, where the risk of Ebola contagion is high and is unique and poignant reminder of the devastating impact this virus is having in human relations.

We have adopted this greeting, as part of our campaign, as symbolic act of solidarity with the people of West Africa who are suffering and in dire need of our help.

Join the Elbow Out Ebola Campaign:

This campaign intends to give Ebola the Elbow by calling on people power, a global alliance of civil society, trade unions, faith groups, community organizations, businesses, schools and universities, in a global peoples coalition, to come together in a determined attempt, to lobby Governments, intergovernmental institutions, to hugely increase their individual emergency aid and longer term investment in West Africa.

What Activities Are We Engaged In?

The campaign meets weekly and has agreed;

Elbow Out Ebola International Conference on December 5th from 9.00am – 5pm followed in the evening by a fundraising cultural evening, to take place at the Zanzibar Club, 291 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4QD

For more information and to book click here:  Elbow Out Ebola Conference

We are also organizing a Global Day of Action in the spring of 2015 under the banner “We Love West Africa” and we are in the process of organising several cultural and fundraising events across the UK.

We need all the help we can get and are asking people to sign up and join us and volunteer to support the campaign. You can contact us here;

Our Current Partners:

  • Black Activists Against the Cuts (BARAC)
  • BlackBritishBulletin
  • Coreplan Ltd
  • European Federation of Liberian Associations
  • Liberian Social Organization, UK (LASOUK)
  • Melqosh International
  • PCS Union
  • Sierra Leone High Commission and Ebola Task Force
  • Starlight Music Academy
  • The Nubian Times
  • The Voice Newspaper
  • TUC
  • Voice of Africa Radio FM
  • Zanzibar Nightclub

Further Information:

The Peoples Campaign 
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An open letter to Bob Geldof  has been issued  by the campaign, Race Equality in the Music Industry, whilst  his efforts are appreciated, the press release responds to the failure to include any more than 1 single black artist, Emeli Sande, amongst the 30 who make up Band Aid 30, being recorded this weekend ignoring the numerous other talented and successful black artists in the UK.  One of the co-signatories of the letter is artist and co-chair of BARAC UK, Zita Holbourne. 


November 15 2014
RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music Industry) notes that Bob Geldof is recording a new  'Do They Know It's Christmas?' single by Band Aid 30 this weekend, with profits going towards the ebola response in west Africa. Whilst we appreciate this initiative and the many less high profile efforts by African community organisations in Britain, it is a shame that 30 years on, Geldof, a man who seems to have a passion for Africa, has not widened his address book to include African artists.
To the best of our knowledge the only African included in the Band Aid 30 lineup is Emeli Sande. Is it that Geldof is not aware of the numerous African British artists with commercial success such as Tinie Tempah, Leona Lewis, Dizzee Rascal, Beverley Knight, Corrine Bailey Rae, Omar, Sade Adu, Alexandra Burke, to name a few who could have been included?
Whilst this is not a personal attack on Geldof, the reality is that for all the good intentions  of the Band Aid 30 project to help Africans, what many within the African British and black music communities see from the published lineup is another form of Eurocentrism - the European off to help the African, without engagement with African musicians in Britain, let alone on the African continent.
If the music industry is serious about engaging with diversity, particularly race equality, which is the reason RE:IMI has been formed, then that message needs to feed through more, and be reflected in a British collective of artists such as Band Aid 30. As it is, whilst Emeli Sande's place in the Band Aid 30 lineup is well-deserved, as she is one of Britain's top selling recoding artists, her inclusion as the only African could be perceived as a tokenistic effort.
We hope that this open letter comes to the attention of the organisers of the recording session in order to redress the situation for future efforts. It would be helpful if today's multi-cultural Britain was better represented in the Band Aid 30 lineup. 29 years on, perhaps lessons can still be learnt from  Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones, whose ‘We Are The World’ effort was performed by a truly multi-cultural collection of artists known as USA For Africa.
Outside of Band Aid 30 and the big charities and NGOs, there are initiatives led by Africans both here in Britain and on the African continent. In London, the newly formed collective Elbow Out Ebola has a conference at Zanzibar in south London on December 5 to find out where ebola-hit countries are at, and how Diasporan Africans can help, and community groups BTWSC and African Histories Revisited are organising  a dinner fundraiser on December 6 at Best Western Cumberland Hotel in Harrow in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières UK's ebola response.
Interestingly, a number of African artists on the continent have recorded songs to raise awareness about the ebola virus, but as the organisers or artists do not have the same profile or media access as Geldof, you've probably not of heard of them. One of the songs is  'Africa Stop Ebola', which features singers well-known on the so-called world music scene, such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, and rapper Didier Awadi.
The song is a message about what people can do to help stop the spread of ebola in Africa, and is performed in French and local languages widely spoken across west Africa to ensure that the message is understood.
RE:IMI encourages Geldof, if he would like to help Africans, to engage with them and work with them rather than merely doing things for their benefit. We thank all the Band Aid 30 artists, but we are now wise to the rise in sales and profile which charity records, and concerts, provide.
Kwaku, RE:IMI co-ordinator
P O Box 14092, London NW10 1WL
Diane Dunkley, artist manager, RM2 Music
Dr Robbie Shilliam, lecturer, Queen Mary, University of London
Hugh Francis, chair UK Black Music Industry
Rikki Stein, artist manager, Fela Anikulapo Kuti Estate
Zita Holbourne, spoken word & visual artist, co-chair BARAC

Sunday, 26 October 2014



BARAC UK is supporting the campaign to save 22 year old dad from Croydon, Marcus Campbell, who is in a critical condition at Croydon University Hospital after having initially being turned away from the hospital in the summer, wrongly diagnosed with a virus.  He was subsequently diagnosed at St Georges Hospital with a rare inflammation of the brain stem. He was transferred to Croydon after 3 months at St Georges, against his family's wishes and the hosptial has stated that should Marcus's heart stop beating they will not resuscitate him. 


Marcus's family has been forced to launch a campaign to save him, demanding a transfer to a hospital with a specialist unit that can give him the care that he needs and deserves.

As if Marcus's critical condition was not enough for the family to deal with, they have been treated appallingly by hospital personnel, including being banned from visiting for a number of days, told they must seek permission to pray by his bedside by the hospital's head of security and told not to read the Bible to him because it won't do anything as he is going to die and his mother Sandra being told that she must take his belongings home as he won't be needing them again. 

It is an absolute outrage that a family wanting nothing more than to get the best possible care and support for their seriously ill loved one should be treated so inhumanely by the hospital who have attempted to deny them human and religious freedoms.

The petition launched by the family on has rapidly gained over 26000 signatures but more are needed to keep up the pressure.  They have staged three protests outside the hosptial supported by their local MP Steve Reed and it is of great concern to learn that at the protest held on Saturday,  security barred access to the hospital for some visitors allowing white people to enter but refusing entry to black visitors seemingly on the basis that because they were black they might be supporting the family campaign.

Support is needed by trade unions, community organisations and the wider community to save Marcus and get him moved to a hospital where he can receive the right treatment and care and against the horrific inhumanity,  injustice and race and religious discrimination Marcus and his family are facing.


What you can do to help:  

  For further info please contact the family directly via the twitter / facebook pages or email



 Human Zoo Barbican controversy comes to Liverpool


Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK has teamed up with the International Slavery Museum, PCS union and MCARF (Merseyside Coalition against Racism and Fascism) to reopen the debate that arose in London around the Barbican’s Human Zoo exhibition & institutional racism in the arts & culture sectors . The debate is taking place in the International Slavery Museum, Albert Dock on Monday 27 October at 5.30pm and is part of the museum's Black History Month programme.

The Barbican exhibition, in which white South African artist Brett Bailey, featured live black performers shackled and in cages charged visitors £20 to enter. Despite claiming to be a piece of art challenging prejudice and racism, the work created a huge controversy in the art world and black and anti-racist campaign groups including BARAC UK objected to the exhibition and their campaign forced the Barbican to cancel the show. The controversy generated debates around institutional racism, the role of art and the meaning of art censorship.

Zita Holbourne, national co-chair of BARAC and a member of the PCS National Executive Committee, will be one of the speakers as a leading campaigner against the exhibition. She says: “The protest that led to the cancellation of the Barbican’s Human Zoo exhibition was not anti-art – it was anti-racist. It is not black communities that censor art, rather arts institutions  that censor black artists. As an artist I am passionate about art, but I don't believe that the rights of a piece of art should be placed above the rights of people to equality, humanity & dignity ”.
The debate will be chaired by Dr Richard Benjamin, the Director of the International Slavery Museum, and will be joined by councillor Anna Rothery and Professor David Peimer, author and professor at Edge Hill University. Dr Benjamin says: “For me there is nothing more important than the culture sector being subject to such scrutiny. The International Slavery Museum has a very clear ethos, we are a campaigning museum and as such use the museum and its content to challenge views/actions/ideologies that persist today.”
PCS union has been at the forefront of highlighting how budget cuts are impacting on local communities and workplaces, including the museums themselves. Clara Paillard, President of the PCS Culture Sector and union rep at the Liverpool museums said:  “At a time when black communities are disproportionately impacted by job cuts and huge cuts are being made to arts funding it is becoming harder for black artists to find work and showcase their talents. Institutional racism means that black people are the first affected by local cuts in arts &culture budgets”.
Please call 0151 478 4062 to reserve your free place.
Contact: Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair BARAC
Tel. 07711861660

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Co-Chair BARAC UK contributes to a new publication by The Fabian Society & Compass on feminism & Labour

Riding The New Wave

Spurred on by social media and the effects of the recession, a new wave of feminism is gathering strength at an impressive pace. Meanwhile, our political parties struggle to offer inspiring solutions to the challenges people face in their daily lives. Is Labour in danger of becoming an irrelevance for this generation of feminists?

Yet Labour can still be a vehicle for contemporary social activists to achieve lasting, systemic change in their fight for equality – if the party can find ways to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Zita Holbourne is co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC UK), an anti-austerity organisation, that also support family justice campaigns such as that of Mark Duggan. Though she’s active in her community, she writes in a new Fabian and Compass report released today: “The only time I ever see local councillors is when they are canvassing for votes”. In her view, local collaboration is the answer: “For black women to be attracted to Labour party activism, the party must be willing to support our grassroots campaigns in the spaces we have created too”.  This could involve the party campaigning on the multiple discriminations faced by young black people while respecting the fact that BARAC UK’s strong anti-cuts stance does not comfortably align with Labour’s public spending policies.

With contributions from:
  • Ivana Bartoletti, chair of the Fabian Women’s Network and founder of its magazine Fabiana.
  • Lisa Clarke, member of the No More Page 3 campaign
  • Zita Holbourne, co-founder and national co-chair of BARAC UK
  • Natacha Kennedy, academic at Goldsmiths College and a trans activist
  • Lisa Nandy MP, Labour member of parliament for Wigan
  • Yas Nacati, 18 year old feminist activist and campaigner living in London
  • Fiona Mactaggart MP, Labour member of parliament for Slough
  • Sue Marsh, writer and disability campaigner who blogs at the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
  • Kirsty McNeill, strategy consultant to some of the world’s leading campaigning organisations
  • Anwen Muston, trans officer for LGBT Labour
  • Stuart White, director of the Public Policy Unit and an associate professor of politics at Jesus College, Oxford

Friday, 10 October 2014



 BARAC is seeking volunteers for Workers Beer Company in 2015 at UK Music Festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading. 

Sharon Griffiths with Lee Jasper

 This summer the first BARAC team of volunteers for Workers Beer Company attended the Reading Festival.  BARAC is grateful to the team of volunteers which included National Co-Chair of BARAC, Lee Jasper for raising much needed funds to support the work BARAC does campaigning for race equality and justice. 

Sharon Griffiths, BARAC supporter and volunteer writes on her experience:
Reading an email received from BARAC one morning caught me off guard as I had been talking to my housemate only the day before about feeling regretful that at my age I’d never been to a festival.  The horror stories of the toilet situation had I have to say, always put me off attending such an event despite hearing how much fun they were!  The email was seeking volunteers to fundraise with the Workers Beer Company on behalf of BARAC.  Being a supporter of BARAC and acknowledging that I’m neither time or money rich, this was an ideal opportunity to attend a festival, have ‘staff’ camping, toilets, showers, two meals a day and drinks when you finish your shift was a perfect introduction to a festival.  Perfect, I wasn’t going to have to pay to attend either.  All in exchange for working between 5-7 hours per day which meant I had between 17 to 19 hours remaining to enjoy the bands, HOT showers, a subsidised bar at the staff camping site and appreciate clean toilets all whilst earning money for BARAC – a Win-Win!

We were invited to be on site the day prior to the Festival starting and off on our adventure we went.  A small team of three packed into a small car with the same number of tents, sleeping bags, deck chairs, camping stove and food and off we went!  The staff camping area was very well organised and we were instantly welcomed and given our ID badges. 


 The shift patterns were posted each afternoon for the following day which allowed us time to plan which bands we wanted to see.  There were approximately 40 staff per bar and there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst the teams.  Beer and cider were poured ready at the back of the bar for us to serve and small selections of spirits were also available.  Nothing too complicated and definitely not the scene for a fancy cocktail (which was a relief).  We were given a barcode for each drink and a small ‘zapper’ gun to scan upon serving so we didn’t even have to add up!!
We were fortunate enough to be given one five hour shift and two six hour shifts so there were lots of opportunities for us to do our own thing.  Prior to our first shift we were given an induction and there was a huge emphasis about being certain we weren’t serving anyone younger than 18.  There were also a number of dodgy twenty pound notes in circulation therefore vigilance was the highest priority.  We agreed as a team that we would also donate our tips to the fundraising pot so there was a real sense of satisfaction that went hand in hand with our hard work.

My advice to anyone considering volunteering to work and represent BARAC at a festival is:  DO IT!  Take wellies and waterproof coat, warm sleeping bag, a sense of humour and a certainty to arrive on time for your shift; also remembering that your conduct when working or staying at the staff campsite does represent BARAC and a good attitude will ensure we get invited to work at the festivals in the future.

Sharon qualified as a social worker in 1999 and in her free time has spent over 17 years working overseas typically in varying areas of Africa, with a particular interest in child protection and in South America working with non-government organisations to reduce the trafficking and sexual slavery of children. During this time Sharon has been able to work with both human services departments and non-government organisations to provide teaching of social work principles in local universities and consultation around varying areas of child protection.

Sharon is a social worker specialising with children and families and also offers consultation to local authorities and NGO’s.
If you are interested in volunteering festivals in 2014 please contact for further information and to register: Donna Guthrie