#FORPAULA - SUBWAY GIRL
Hi, Mark here, This is a very special song with a powerful story, but not the one I envisaged when I first wrote it.
Please enjoy the video, read on for the full story and pick up a copy of the single. All the proceeds are going to our local homeless charity - CHESS.
I walk to work most days and my route goes through an underpass in Chelmsford City Centre. It is not unusual to see one or two people sleeping rough here, sheltering from the outside world. On one particular morning, in early 2015 there appeared a young lady with dark black hair, curled up in a blue sleeping bag. She was very pretty and very young and looked so out of place. She wasn't begging or trying to catch the attention of passers-by. She was just wrapped up in a world of her own.
From the moment I first saw her, I wanted to know why she was there, to understand what had happened in her life that had brought her to this place. Perhaps I could help? But I wasn't brave enough. After all what could I really do? I passed this lady, day after day for about 3 months, until one day she was no longer there.
I felt so guilty about my lack of action and that inspired me to write Subway Girl. It essentially represents my disappointment at not having the courage to stop and help this young lady, but with hope that wherever she now was, it was a much better place than that cold, dark underpass.
I really wanted to make up for my lack of action and see if we could use the song to help promote the work of our local homeless charity - CHESS. I approached the team at CHESS who were keen to work with us. On my second visit to see them, they had some incredible news...
CHESS had identified who my Subway Girl was! Her name was Paula. She had become known to them through their winter support programme. Unfortunately Paula's situation had deteriorated to a point where they could no longer help her.
But then the news I wasn't prepared for...Paula had passed away due to an illness, most likely contracted by sleeping rough for so long. The happy ending I had hoped for was not to be.
Whilst there's nothing I can do to help Paula now, this experience has made me more determined than ever to try and help those who might find themselves in a similar situation ,either now or in the future. Paula's story shows just how important it can be to get help early.
So, with the support of CHESS we have released Subway Girl as a charity single. CHESS are running a media campaign to coincide with the single and video release. We really hope this will raise awareness for the work they do and much needed additional funds.
All the proceeds are going to CHESS. The single costs less than a £1 and we are not taking a penny. So dig out that loose change from the back of your sofa and send it to somewhere that can really make a difference.
Please share, like and comment. The more people we can reach, hopefully the more money we can raise.
CHESS have really opened my eyes to the world of sleeping rough. Homelessness is not something that just affects those in poverty. It can happen to anyone, from any walk of life.
However, it's comforting to know there are charities like CHESS all over the world, who are there to help pick people up again when life deals them a bad hand.
Having spent time with the team at CHESS it is hard not to be amazed by the incredible service they and similar charities provide across the UK. Maybe you already give your loose change to a random person on the street, but this way you'll know that it's going to an organisation with a proven track record of helping people get their lives back together.
Thank you for reading this ridiculously long story, but it's one I think is worth sharing. I would like to say a huge thank you on behalf of Stu's Front Room, CHESS and the homeless people of Chelmsford if you can spare some loose change to buy a copy of this single.
We must also thank some extremely talented people who have given their time to help us in this endevour. Firstly, Michelle Rees for being Paula, Lizzie Bing for lending us her gorgeous voice and Tony Ford at Bottled Genie Productions for producing the video.
Find out more about Chess at www.chesshomeless.org and remember to pick-up your copy of Subway Girl. Click the button below to buy the song from your favourite online store. You can also leave us your e-mail address if you would like to keep up-to-date with our fundraising campaign and other Stu's Front Room activity.
We recorded the song for our second album "Handful of Home", but the story wasn't to end there.