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  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

Cathedral Concert to Highlight Voices of Recovery

Published 12 July 2024

A ‘Stories of Sanctuary’ concert at Newcastle Cathedral on Thursday 18 July at 7:30pm will highlight the powerful voices and stories of those seeking sanctuary and those who consider the Cathedral or Newcastle their sanctuary.

A selection of the evening’s songs will be performed by members of the Cathedral’s Recovery Church, a supportive community for individuals in recovery from various addictions. The group meets every Wednesday evening at the Cathedral and is open to people of all faiths and none.

Over 20 people with lived experience of addiction will perform their song ‘See Me’, co-written alongside Sean Cooney of Teesside folk trio The Young’uns. The song addresses how stigma and shame associated with addiction can result in people being labelled and not seen, heard or valued as unique human beings.

Recovery Church member Marty has attended the group for the last 18 months. He says: “People don’t understand what addiction is like. They think you can stop just like that – like it’s a choice you can make.

“No one chooses to be an alcoholic – it’s an illness. It almost cost me my job, my marriage, my health and my home. I am lucky because I’m now four months sober and became so ill I couldn’t take painkillers and thought I was dying. I write songs and wanted to be involved in writing ‘See Me’ to help people to understand what addiction is like and to challenge stigma and ignorance.”

The group is facilitated by Revd Jon Canessa, Newcastle Cathedral’s Lantern Initiative Lead, and Methodist Minister Deacon Tracey Hume. Both Jon and Tracey are in recovery and identify with those they walk alongside in solidarity.

Songwriter Sean Cooney, who will perform alongside Recovery Church members at the event, says: “Helping members of the Cathedral’s Recovery Church group write a song about their experiences was a very powerful, moving and inspirational experience for me and to be able to perform the song with them on 18 July will be really special”.

The concert is the culmination of a three-month series of workshops led by Sam Slatcher, Founder of Citizen Songwriters, with support from The Arts Society Tyneside.

Other songs will include ‘Someday’, written by Bushee, a Burmese asylum seeker based in Newcastle. Released for Refugee Week 2024 with a music video filmed at the Cathedral, the track is available on Spotify and iTunes.

The ‘Stories of Sanctuary’ project was launched in 2018 by Citizen Songwriters at Durham Cathedral, intertwining ancient sanctuary stories with those of recently settled Syrian refugees in County Durham. The project’s music has toured the UK, including stops in Leicester, Sheffield, Southampton, and the Houses of Parliament, leading to new songwriting groups in County Durham and Sunderland.

Each set of songs presents new narratives shaped by the group’s location and experiences.

Canon Peter Dobson of Newcastle Cathedral says, “As a Cathedral that seeks to be a place of Radical Welcome, a safe and brave space for people facing a range of different challenges day in and day out, this project is so exciting. The workshops [have gathered] a wide range of people to help us, and others, better understand the importance of sanctuary in its many different forms”.

Tickets for the ‘Stories of Sanctuary’ concert on Thursday 18 July are available on a ‘Give as You Feel’ basis.

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