As the clock strikes midnight on 31 December people around the world will welcome in 2017, reflecting on the past 12 months and celebrating the new year and the potential it brings with it. I’m no different, and as I look back over the last year – and forward at the year to come – I feel full of hope – and it’s all down to Coldplay.
But what did the world’s biggest band do to be credited with such a pivotal role in my new year reflections?
As long-term supporters, this year Coldplay invited Oxfam to join them on their world tour to engage their fans with the Stand As One campaign, by asking concert-goers to stand in solidarity with people forced to flee their homes due to conflict and disaster. So this March I became Oxfam’s tour co-ordinator, jumped on a plane to Argentina and began the most unbelievable year of my life: travelling in a tour bus across Latin America, Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand to campaign alongside hundreds of Oxfam volunteers at a grand
total of 58 Coldplay concerts in 17 countries.
Campaigning on tour was exhilarating and exhausting, and this unique opportunity to engage so many people with Stand As One couldn’t have come at a better time. In 2016 the world saw the highest number of people on the move in recorded history, as 65 million people worldwide fled their homes due to conflict and disaster. Whilst the world was shaken by harrowing images of people around the world desperately fleeing their homes to seek safety, many governments were slow to act – but people weren’t.
In 2016 over 25,000 fans at Coldplay concerts signed their names in solidarity with people forced to flee. In September we delivered their signatures to world leaders at the United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants, urging them to work together to support people on the move – and governments listened. Outcomes from the summit included the suggestion of a two-year process which may improve the global situation for people forced to flee, and 50 countries pledged a staggering $4.5 billion in financial assistance to groups helping refugees find work and education.
These are positive first steps, and I hope to see them put into action soon.
But of course there is still much to be done. As we usher in 2017 there are millions of people around the world who are internally displaced, who are living in refugee camps or making perilous journeys to find safety as they flee conflict and disaster. But I have hope.
On tour I met thousands of fans who care deeply about ensuring that everyone is able to live in safety, and who wanted to see world leaders working together to make this a reality. I believe we can do this. Next year I’ll be back on tour with Coldplay, bringing Stand As One to fans in Asia, Europe and north America, and together – by standing in solidarity with people forced to flee – I believe that we can continue to build this movement that will influence, encourage and bring about global action. So as you celebrate the new year join
me in signing your name in solidarity and Stand As One with people forced to flee.
Images: Anna Rogurski, Oxfam’s Rights in Crisis Tour Operator on the road with Coldplay, runs teams of volunteers and stands, getting petitions signed by fans attending the concerts. Anna with her team of volunteers at the Olympic stadium, Barcelona. Credit: Andy Hall