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What Solidarity Means to Me: Ioney Smallhorne

Ioney Smallhorne
Mon 24 Aug, 2020

Ioney is a writer, poet, film maker and educator who will lead the third virtual workshop of the Letters of Solidarity project on the 12th of September. Find out more about what the word 'solidarity' means to Ioney, and why it's so important.


Solidarity

Noun

  1. Union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes, peoples, etc.
  2. Community of feelings, purposes, etc.
  3. Community of responsibilities and interests.


Flying ants know what solidarity is. You can see them on certain summer days, inspired by the rising temperature, taking to the air synchronised, sharing a common interest and forming unions. But flying ants are the same regular garden ants you see crawling about, they grow wings because they have an urgent matter at hand, they need to create new colonies for the survival of their species and crawling just will not do. In the months leading up to ‘flying day’, you may see a small hill forming in a patch of lawn, this is the ants preparing and communicating underground. Tension bubbles under the surface like a zit on a teenage face; it’s a warning of what’s to come- change.

Humans and animals alike call for solidarity because we need to change or create something or because we have a hurdle to overcome and we can’t do it alone. When writing your letters of solidarity think about what you feel urgently needs to change. What burning issues have been bubbling under your surface?

One letter that created real change recently was written by Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford. He wrote a letter to the members of parliament to urge them to continue to offer free meals to vulnerable families over the 2020 school summer holidays. Many parents have lost their jobs as a knock-on effect from the coronavirus and are now struggling to earn money to feed their children. In his letter, Marcus shares his experience of coming from a working class, single parent family that relied heavily on free school meals and food banks, he describes the struggles and challenges his mother faced to keep her children fed. Sharing personal experiences can be daunting it leaves us open to analysis/criticism and vulnerable and needs to be done with consideration. But writing about something we have had experience of or are emotionally invested in, often helps the words to flow, it helps us to write with passion and in turn it helps the reader connect with our words.

Marcus Rashford is reportedly paid around £200,000 per week. Families who are struggling to afford to feed their children would find it difficult to imagine they share anything in common with this Manchester United super star. But because Marcus was brave enough to reveal his experiences earnestly, he was able to not only connect with people who share the same experience but his passionate letter also touched people who may not have any idea what it is like to be hungry and unable to buy food. His letter was published in newspapers, retweeted, read by millions and had a huge influence on Boris Johnsons overturning his decision and choosing to continue to offer free meals to families in need.

Don’t be afraid to write from your personal perspective, from your voice. Your experience and ideas for change are valid and worthy to be heard. Your goal or vision of change may seem far away in the distance but writing a letter is an opportunity to gain support, encouragement and solidarity. It is an opportunity for your idea or vision to grow wings and fly towards finding solutions that create change.

Do you want to write a Letter of Solidarity? Find out about the project, how to get involved, and attend a workshop with Ioney here.

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