Born in 1994, Sam Fender grew up in North Shields, a town in North East England known for its fishing sector and early railway pioneering. About 30,000 people live in this poor Geordie seaside town, and according to the Guardian in July 2022, North East England “has the highest rate of child poverty of anywhere in the U.K.,” standing at 38%. Fender is now a well-known musician, touring America and topping the music charts. Though Fender’s stardom has come with prosperity, in an interview with the New York Times he insists that “he will never leave North Shields behind,” Now, he is giving back to his hometown community, cementing his reputation as North Shields’ local hero.
Fender Supports North East Homeless
During a COVID-19 lockdown in the U.K., the singer visited North East Homeless, a charity that helps the homeless. Fender, entertained at the North East Homeless center, playing the piano for the homeless. The charity offers the homeless food, support and skills training. By early December 2021, close to 1,000 people endured homelessness in the North East, including 230 children. At the time, the charity Shelter stated the figure would worsen due to the impacts of the pandemic and increasing living costs pushing ever more people out of their homes and onto the streets.
In May 2022, the singer/songwriter held a gig at O2 City Hall Newcastle performing to an audience of 1,750 people. The gig aimed to support North East Homeless and the ticket sales raised £133,725 for the charity. The gig has bolstered Sam Fender’s reputation as a local hero.
An article by Virgin Media O2 highlights Fender’s thoughts on the charitable event: “It’s been an honor to be able to put on such a special show in my hometown and to raise such a huge amount of money for North East Homeless. I hope it will make a real difference to those in need.”
North East Homeless will use the funding raised from Fender’s gig for “the installation of a lift, new treatment rooms and a bigger event space,” the BBC says.
Earl Charlton is one of the people North East Homeless has helped. Charlton had been “living on and off the streets for 25 years” while struggling with addictions, the BBC reports. North East Homeless gave him a job in 2020, and now, he’s completing a chef’s apprenticeship through the charity so that he can work in the charity’s café.
In 2022, Fender is teaming up with Bruce Springsteen to create a charity music single for the Teenage Cancer Trust and its sister organization Teenage Cancer America. Geordie musical legends Sting and Mark Knopfler are also teaming up with Fender to record the single.
A Role Model to the Youth
In an interview with the Guardian, Fender talks about the financial struggles in his own household and the poverty visible in the North Shields community while he was growing up. He notes that poverty in the North East often goes overlooked as politicians turn a blind eye.
Fender’s hit single “Seventeen Going Under” tells the story of his life growing up. The lyrics bring to light his mother’s crippling debt, his parent’s depression and his involvement in violence and substance abuse, among other issues. But, using music, Fender became both a success story and a local hero in his community, inspiring youth to turn their lives around and reach their full potential.
Homelessness is an issue close to Fender’s heart because his stepfather experienced homelessness for more than a year after serving in the armed forces. The prevalence of poverty while growing up inspired him to take action through charitable work. Fender stated to Radio X: “it is about just acknowledging that I know I’ve been very, very lucky.” Sam Fender, North Shields’ local hero, is using that luck for the greater good of his community.
– William Fletcher