The tabloids might like to show Liverpool as a city of work-shy, dishonest types, dependent on hand- outs, but that paints a very biased picture of the city and the people who live there. The truth of the matter is, if you are genuinely in need, many Liverpool people will go out of their way to help you. It sounds trite and obviously doesn’t apply to all its residents, but Liverpool has a heart bigger than most. In this respect, its musicians are no different than many Liverpudlians, and the annual Hope Fest, run purely for the benefit of the city’s homeless, shows just how generous they can be.

The ethos of the festival sets it apart from other charitable events in the city. A tin of soup will get you into a venue and a bag of useful items a homeless person desperately needs (as specified on the website) gets you a festival wristband. There’s no money to be siphoned off into administration, just stuff to meet the basic needs of someone used to sleeping rough and coping with the insecurity and lack of belongings associated with having no permanent home.

The festival has been a success from its humble beginnings just over a year ago, when bands played on one night in a few venues. In contrast, the festival now runs for 3 days and sees bands playing at 14 Liverpool venues and even one venue in Southport this September. Already the cream of Liverpool talent and bands from further afield have put their names forward to perform, making Hope Fest 2015 an event people would be foolish to miss. With performers such a Steve Thompson and the Incidents, Go Fiasco, Alias Kid, Sheepy, The Soul Rays, Western Promise, The Jackobins, Jimmy and the Revolvers, Black Seasons, The Mono LPs, Sisteray, Creeps, Choc Electrique, The Science of the Lamps and many other top quality acts already confirmed, the festival will get your blood pumping and your feet tapping, as well as giving you the warm, cosy glow often associated with helping those in need.

The inspired vision of Anna Grace Henney, a talented singer/songwriter in her own right, has ensured the continuing success of the festival. In her own words, running the festival is ‘incredibly hard work, very stressful but also really exciting and rewarding’. Using her contacts in the music business, Anna realised her dream of combining her love of music and helping those in need, and continues to be the director of Hope Fest as well as its founder.

As Hope fest has expanded this far in just over a year, it is wonderful to see how it has progressed and the amount of bands who are eager to play. With 190 slots available, many of the hundreds of bands applying will be successful, including yet-to-be announced headline acts. There has been such a surge in awareness regarding the festival, that it has been decided to re-open the submission process for one week only beginning on July 1st. Details will be available on the Hope Fest website.

This year, in addition to the usual vitally important festival volunteers, there will be training programs and work experience opportunities for those experiencing homelessness, making this festival even more beneficial. With an eye on expanding the festival to other cities in the future, whilst keeping the Hope Fest headquarters in the city, Anna Grace Henney and her team go from strength to strength.

Information about the festival can be found at hopefest.org.uk as well as the Hope Fest Facebook page & on Twitter

Roxy Gillespie