Meldreth mum's homelessness charity teams up with Cambridge's Foodies Festival
PUBLISHED: 07:38 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 07:38 02 May 2019
A Meldreth mum who started a project organising more than 100 charity concerts to support homeless people - which has even seen her pick up an award in Downing Street - has teamed up with a major food festival to bring an inaugural three-day event to Cambridge.
Emma Rule founded Musicians against Homelessness in 2016, posting on Facebook from her kitchen table in Barrington – where she was living at the time – after meeting a suicidal man while volunteering for Crisis in London over Christmas.
Former Oasis manager Alan McGee got involved, volunteers came forward, and the series of more than 100 gigs to raise funds for Crisis –providing opportunities for up-and-coming bands – was launched.
Since then the concerts have gone from strength to strength, and the project has seen her presented with a Points of Light award by Prime Minister Theresa May, and reach the regional finals in the Pride of Britain Awards.
Emma told the Crow: “I was in a room with the Prime Minister talking about the 50th year of Crisis, and Musicians against Homelessness. It was a really surreal experience.”
READ MORE: Barrington mum starts nationwide Musicians Against Homelessness project from her kitchen table
Now the mum-of-two's project has collaborated with the long-running Foodies Festival, who are bringing their 'Gastro Glastonbury' to Cambridge's Parker's Piece in June.
Scouting for Girls, MasterChef finalist Alex Rushmer and double Great British Menu winner Daniel Clifford, both based in Cambridge, are headlining an all-star menu.
Emma said: “We've only literally just released the news and announced it and everyone I know has gone mad over it. It's great to have a new festival to tick all the boxes – food, celebs and music.
“I'm just so incredibly proud that we are doing something massive at home. It's the biggest thing we've done in Cambridge – it's huge and it's just really lovely to do something at home, as I travel all the time.”
Emma's day job is working at Jimmy's homeless shelter in the city as a support worker, which she balances with planning gigs and fundraising.
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“The really brilliant thing is that I work on the ground with homeless people, and then am able to go all the way to number 10. So working at Jimmy's and having that hands-on experience is very important.
“I need to know what it's actually like for a homeless person – I need to be able to speak to people who are in that position and also to know how the work that we do could benefit homeless people and what needs to change.
“It's very easy to walk past a homeless person and think it's their fault. I think we really have to change the way we look at the issue.
“I don't think homelessness now is entirely about drink or drugs – that's a very old way of looking at it.
“Universal Credit has really messed things up for people, some of those sleeping rough work but can't afford to live somewhere, and I think everyone should appreciate that you're doing quite well in life if you've just got the basics the way the country is at the moment.”
Emma who lives with husband Martin and two sons – who hope one day she'll get Stormzy to one of her gigs – still has the help of a group of volunteers, who are working harder than ever.
“Running the project is really, really difficult sometimes, but I always remember the promise I made to that person over Christmas which got this all started,” said Emma.
“When I launched this from the Facebook post, I thought 'I've got a bit of spare time' and now this has taken over my life – but we haven't grown as an organisation, it's still a group of unpaid volunteers.
“it's a hell of a lot of work, but so worth it.
“We are going to keep going and see how far we can go. We've got into the most important building in the country, so where do we go next?”
Foodies Festival, which claims to be UK's biggest food festival, heads to Cambridge on June 28, 29 and 30. For every ticket sold, the festival will make a donation to the cause. There will also be merchandise on sale giving a further boost to funds.For the full line up see foodiesfestival.com.
Tickets, including VIP packages, are now on sale at https://foodies.seetickets.com/tour/foodies-festival. Musicians Against Homelessness has a special 20 per cent off tickets link - enter MAH20 at the till.