Sam Fender talks launching petition to make all homeless helplines free in the North East
7 December 2020, 18:14 | Updated: 8 December 2020, 12:24
The Geordie singer-songwriter has launched the initiative after finding it could cost up to 40p a minute for a homeless person in his region to access the help they need.
Sam Fender has launched a petition to make helplines for the homeless free in the North East.
The campaign came after the Geordie singer-songwriter found out that four out of seven councils in the part of England charge callers up to 40 pence per minute to access their hotlines.
After sharing the link last week, Fender has now spoken to Radio X's sister station LBC News to explain why he felt so compelled to start the petition.
"Any phone line, even if you're trying to get your phone contract sorted, you're on these things for at least half an hour," saif the Hypersonic Missiles singer. "That's £12. Now £12 to somebody on the verge of being homeless or is homeless, that could be a week's worth of their money. That could be their food. That should be the bare minimum of help. They should be able to call a number and not be charged for it".
The petition is gaining traction on social media and, at the time of writing this article, has garnered 13,014 signatures- with the likes of Lewis Capaldi, One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and Alan Shearer all showing their support.
The four local authorities of the North East outlined in the petition; Durham, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Gateshead told LBC News that they're reviewing options to implement free phone lines and add that they do offer call back services for those who get through to their current helplines.
The initiative comes after the North Shield singer released his cover of Lindisfarne's Winter Song, which saw him collaborate with People of The Streets for his lyric video and work with The Big Issue.
Speaking about his decision to help shed a light on homelessness, he revealed: "It's quite close to my heart because my stepdad was homeless for a year and a bit when he came out of forces and I know how debilitating that was on his life, how hard it was to get back into work and to have his own place and stuff".
As for the song itself, which evokes imagery of homelessness in its lyrics, he remarked: "It's over 50 years old and it's probably more relevant today than it was back then."
Watch the lyric video here:
Talking to Radio X's George Godfrey about the track - which was written by Geordie folk legends Lindisfarne's founding member, Alan Hull, and features on the band's Nicely Out Of Tune album, he said: "I wanted to do a Christmas song, but I didn't want to do something that was crass and cr*p.
"Winter Song is one of my favourite Christmas tunes and Alan Hall is one of my heroes [...] so I just wanted to do something that was close to home and close to my heart and that's why I picked it".
"If you listen to the song and the original track the lyrics are actually really poignant and relevant for the time," added the Play God singer. "It's basically a Christmas message of trying to be more empathetic about people who are worse off than you."