Our Everyday Heroes: Sammy Barcroft & Joanne Vines

Here at Girls Against we’ve decided to introduce a new feature to the blog called, ‘Our Everyday Heroes’ where we celebrate everyday female/trans people who have done something that deserves recognition! We hope to make this a monthly feature and would love it if you sent us a tweet or an email with anyone who you think has done something worth celebrating.

We’re starting with two absolutely amazing women from Portsmouth who have successfully transformed a double-decker bus into a homeless shelter, which is nothing short of magnificent.

Someone suggested the idea to Joanne Vines in 2016, and in January 2017, she put a plea out on facebook asking if anyone had a bus they could offer her. After receiving 3 offers, herself and Sammy Barcroft made the decision to take on the mammoth challenge of turning the bus into a well-needed homeless shelter.

When it arrived on the 31st March 2017, the Stagecoach bus was a 72 seated double-decker (complete with MOT), however, by the end of November, the bus had been transformed into a homeless shelter fitted with 12 beds, a kitchen, a living area and a toilet.

From curtains to insulation, everything was donated to the project by volunteers, and over the course of 8 months, Sammy, Joanne and their team worked tirelessly to create the shelter.

Members of the local community were heavily involved, with the local college offering to make the bunk-beds as part of their woodwork project, and a local housing association donating the entire kitchen.

Joanne and Sammy spent around £6,000, all of which was raised through crowdfunding or donations, however the build itself is worth about £25,000.

The bus has now been kindly donated to The Robert Dolling project, and will be parked outside of St. Agatha’s Church, where it’s estimated to help 300,000 people in the future.

I spoke to Sammy to find out more:

What/who inspired you to do this?

I’m not sure anyone inspired me, except Joanne!  We had seen other buses being transformed and thought we’d give it a try! We asked the guy who had transformed another bus for some advice and were met by very rude resistance which gave us more determination to succeed!

Will you miss working on the bus?

Yes, although a rest is as good as a change, I’ve become quite attached to the Bus and the talking point it always started. But I won’t miss the early starts or late finishes or trying to organise time to meet others at the Bus!

Would you do this again in the future, maybe with a different structure?

Not sure, but never say never I guess!

What have you got to say to anyone who might be thinking about taking on an amazing project like this?

You will need bags of patience as well as everything else. Make sure you pin your tradespeople down to dates and ensure they work to it. Don’t be afraid to ask, if Joanne hadn’t of asked for a bus we’d never be here with a completed project. Always make sure you have a bus/life balance and work together with an amazing friend!

To find out more about Sammy and Joanne’s journey, check out Sammy’s blog post here!

Credit: All photos used were taken from Sammy’s blog (http://mrssammyb13.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/portsmouth-bus-project-2017-complete.html?m=1)

Written by: Samantha Hall (@_samanthahall_ on Twitter).

GA Newsletter: November 2017

Welcome to November!

Getting colder and the albums are running out. However, with the lack of new music being released we do have some exciting news! This month, we took on some lovely new reps from across the country and welcomed them into our ranks. We were so pleased with their enthusiasm and hope they help take this campaign even further. Some of these gems have written new pieces for us in the newsletter this month so hopefully you all enjoy their writing as much as we do.

We’re hoping to bring this newsletter to your inboxes next month! Thank you to all the people that voted on our twitter poll and showed interest, we really hope that its something you can get on board with and are just as interested as we are in seeing if its successful. Its a big step for us.

We’ve also opened up our blog submissions for artwork and all your amazing writing. We’re open to pretty much everything to do with intersectional feminism, the music industry, sexual harassment etc. Things that are appropriate to our campaign really. We really love seeing what you’ve got to offer and appreciate everything you do send us.

Book Club

During the month of November, the Girls Against Book Club has been reading ‘Feminine Gospels’ by Carol Ann Duffy, a poetry collection that deals with female identity in various ways. In this month’s book club blog post i discussed some of my favourite poems from the collection, ‘Beautiful, ‘The Woman Who Shopped’, and ‘Loud’ and one of our new reps, Megan, contributed her thoughts on the collection too- scroll down to read more! During December we will be reading ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ by Jeanette Winterson, a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up as a lesbian within a religious family and community. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in reading and discussing be sure to pick up a copy; its a relatively short novel so there should be plenty of time to read it over the christmas period! Don’t forget to join our Good Reads page for regular updates and discussions.

Our Rep Favourites: 

To introduce our new reps to writing for us, we’ve done a small collaborative piece asking them to give us their top picks from this year in music from their favourite artists.

Rep: Ellen Peirson-Hagger

Artist: Laura Marling

Album: Semper Femina

Top Picks

‘The Valley’

‘Nothing, Not Nearly’

‘Wild Once’

Semper Femina is a meditation on what it is to be a woman, and to be friends with women. The album is romantic, touching and empowering. Best of all, Marling is no holds barred, her voice as its fullest on this sixth album, her calm and collected anger wonderful in its fury.

Rep: Neive McCarthy

Artist: Anteros

Album: Drunk EP

Top Picks

‘On The Moon’


The release of the ‘Drunk’ EP earlier this year showed that Anteros have a taste for stratospheric heights and are well on their way to getting there- it’s simultaneously explosive and melancholic but altogether guaranteed to get you dancing along with effortlessly cool front woman Laura Hayden all the way through.

Rep: Emma Randall

Artist: Amber Mark

Album: 3:33am EP

Amber Mark brings an uplifting tone of vibrance and colour to her new EP 3:33 am. Amber uses the song ‘loose my cool’ to express her feelings regarding the death of her mother and suggests that we ought to celebrate life rather than lamenting death. Amber Mark also explores her Buddhist upraising and the impact it’s had on her life, the EP is a beautiful collection of female empowerment and encourages those who have lost someone to express themselves in a way that stops them from bottling up emotions.


NME Album of the Year:

Our rep Neive writes beautifully about Lorde, and her winning NME album of the year 2017 for Melodrama…

‘As the year draws to a close, it can only mean one thing (other than Christmas)- the imminent release of NME’s album of the year. This month saw the announcement that Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ had won the accolade, followed by Wolf Alice’s ‘Visions of a Life’ in second place; 2017 really has been a stellar year for women in music. Lorde’s sophomore album chronicles an adventure in discovering yourself and in her own words,  “a record about being alone”. It’s completely self-embracing and intimate, with the introspective ‘Liability’, a raw, self analytical piano ballad, being one of the standout tracks. ‘Melodrama’ is an album which explores diversity so closely that the overall sound is incredibly eclectic but tied together by a distinct Lorde touch that makes it work so well; it soars to unheard of heights on the heartbroken yet anthemic ‘Green Light’, yet manages to contrast this with the lovestruck, magic-enthused ‘The Louvre’. Every song manages to discretely encapsulate a period in your life where uncertainty intertwines with reckless happiness, and that’s part of what makes it such a spectacularly important album. Releasing an album at 16 is no easy feat, and Lorde has mentioned that being a woman is the music industry is undeniably difficult. Still, she has managed to make the second album of all second albums- mature and introspective, but infectious to the point where you cannot help but dance. Most integrally, throughout her entire rise to success, Lorde has remained unwaveringly true to herself in the most unapologetic way possible: the way in which she has done things her own way is totally admirable  and perhaps could be attributed to why ‘Melodrama’ has been so successful. It’s an album that completely redefined the pop genre and riddled with those Lorde idiosyncrasies that have become so distinctive; ‘Melodrama’ is empowering, confessional and ambitious, and Lorde pulls this off magnificently to create an album that could not be anything other than album of the year’

–       Neive McCarthy



As you all (hopefully) know, we have an Instagram theme of Women Creating Waves. This is to celebrate all the incredible women that are doing something amazing either in the music industry or their own field. Our rep Megan chose her favourite from the past couple of months who has made the most impact on her.

‘In our new ‘Women Creating Waves’ (#wcw) Instagram theme, GA recently posted about Wolf Alice’s extremely talented Ellie Rowsell. As we mentioned in our post, “it’s always lovely to see strong women paving the way and being so iconic!” and Ellie is one of many who has proved to music lovers everywhere that “you are your own artist” (Ellie for NME, 2016). We believe artists from all walks of life should love and embrace that! Another example that Ellie never fails to impress the music scene was her casual invite on Twitter for “any gals” to play her guitar part in the wolf alice song ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ during a gig. Some thought she was joking, but on 11th November a fan called Freya joined the stage and absolutely smashed the song! You can see a clip on the band’s Instagram . We love recognising women who create waves in what they do, and Ellie is just one. We have mentioned the likes of Jessica Hopper, Lady GaGa and Ines Rau. Follow us on instagram @girls.against to keep up to date with such wonderful women who inspire us every day!’

–       Megan Ryder- Maki

Another of our reps, Iona, chose Cardi B (an icon), a post will be up about her soon for a wcw but for now, here is what she had to say.

‘The only female rapper to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost two decades, Cardi B brought us one of the most landmark moments of music in 2017. Gaining an accolade established rap megastars like Nicki Minaj couldn’t reach, Cardi surpassed any misconceptions about her past in stripping and reality TV as her track “Bodak Yellow” climbed the charts gradually after its first release in June 2017, reaching the top spot on the 25th of September. That’s not to say Cardi shies away from her past in exotic dancing in the slightest; self-proclaimed “stripper hoe”, Cardi is proud of the career that made her name and saved her from an abusive relationship. Her unapologetic expression of her sexualit, her unrelenting work ethic and the fact she didn’t rely at all on her famous boyfriend to make her name in the rap world (she is now engaged to Migos’ Offset), Cardi is a beacon of the reshaping image of what it means to be a woman in the music industry today. Formerly “Cardi B: stripper, Instagram personality, reality TV star, rapper”, ‘Bodak Yellow’ with its unforgettable hook and oozing personality cemented her identity as “Cardi B: rapper”. And this is just her debut.’

–       Iona Macwhirter- Harley



Our rep Sophia has curated our November playlist! This includes artists such as Sigrid, Black Honey and Sunflower Bean. Give us a follow on Spotify for our monthly playlists.

Thank you for reading!


The Girls Against team xxx


Contributors for November:

Alice @aliceporterX        Book Club

Sophia @hurricane_phi    Spotify

Ellen @ellen_cph     Music

Megan @ixxmcmxl     WCW

Neive @neiveeee     Lorde, Music

Iona                    Music

Emma                   Music

Ellen @ellcharlotte_           Editor and Coordinator




twitter: @girlsagainst


facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlsagainstgroping/ 


instagram @girls.against


email: girlsagainstgiggroping@gmail.com

GA Book Club #5: ‘Feminine Gospels’ by Carol Ann Duffy

Welcome back to the Girls Against book club! It’s the first Sunday of December which means it’s time to discuss the book we’ve been reading
during November, Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy. This is the first time the book club has read a poetry collection and I’m hoping those of you who joined in this month enjoyed reading it. I have to admit that I struggled to get
through the collection a little because, as an English Literature student,
poetry is something I generally read in an academic sense. This meant that not
only did I need to be in a quiet environment when reading the poetry, which is
difficult when you do most of your recreational reading on public transport, but it was also difficult for me not to over-analyse every single word in each of
the poems. However I’ve wanted to read some of Duffy’s poetry for a while and so I’m glad I finally have and it was a nice change to read something other
than a novel recreationally. Anyhow, let’s get on with discussing some of the
poems that I liked!

‘Beautiful’ ,one of the first poems in the collection, references the lives of notable historical female figures, depicting how they are defined by their appearance to men. Duffy describes Helen of Troy as ‘the girl next door’, Cleopatra as ‘wrapped in satins, like a gift’, Marilyn Monroe as a ‘dumb beauty’ and Princess Diana being told to ‘act like a fucking princess’. This portrayal of the women as defined by their looks is undermined by the tone of anger created throughout the poem, which feels like a fight against the objectification these women and many other women all around the world face. This is epitomized by the last line of the poem, ‘History’s stinking breath in her face’ which depicts the terrible effects of creating a persona of a woman and forcing her to live by it, such as in Princess Diana’s case.

Another poem in the collection, ‘The Woman Who Shopped’, is an interesting criticism of capitalism and the commodification of women and their bodies. The first section of the poem is a seemingly never-ending list of someone’s wants, ‘wanted a wedding, a wedding dress, groom, married him, wanted
a honeymoon, went on one’. The second part of the poem sees the women in
question transformed into some sort of department store, portraying how excess can affect the self but also perhaps depicting the damaging effects of
objectifying and commoditizing women’s bodies, as Duffy states that ‘crowds
would queue overnight at her cunt, desperate for bargains’. The use of metaphor throughout the entire collection was a clever way to force the reader to reconsider aspects of our society and particularly the role of women as often impossibly hyperbolic situations were given a real meaning which made me think differently about the topics in discussion.

Perhaps my favourite poem in the collection is ‘Loud’ as Duffy uses it to deal with real-life issues head on, preceding the poem with the statement that ‘Parents with mutilated children have been turned away from the empty hospital and told to hire smugglers to take them across the border to
Quetta, a Pakistani frontier city at least six hours away by car.’ It’s so
important that creators of art use their voices to help tackle issues going on
in the world and Duffy’s decision to include this statement in the collection
is brilliant as it forces the reader to acknowledge that the things in this
poem, and in all of the other poems, are truly happening, providing no escape from this fact. The poem itself is also great as it
portrays a woman who finds her voice as a result of the issues Duffy makes the reader aware of. Finding your voice is something I feel a lot of women remember experiencing whether that’s through reading a book, talking to a teacher or parent, social media or, as it so happens in this poem, through something that makes you so angry that you are determined to find your voice in order to change it. I remember the moment I found my voice and this poem reminded me of that. ‘Now she was loud’ Duffy writes, epitomizing the change that takes place in a woman when they realize what they should be fighting for.

Feminine Gospels as a collection is empowering and inspiring and I am so glad that this text and many of Duffy’s others are studied at schools as this is the type of text that could really enable a young person to find their voice and motivate a generation to try and change the world. In terms of poetry it’s pretty easy to read so I would definitely give it a go if you haven’t already and are looking to widen the types of texts you read like me!

One of our lovely new reps Megan Ryder-Maki (@ixxmcmxl on Twitter) told me about her views of the poetry collection:

‘Carol Ann Duffy’s collection is a powerful depiction of the inequalities and injustices women have faced throughout history to present day. Duffy challenges The Gospel Truth in her title alone, an account created and
historically taught by men. However, she does not exclude men from her poetry collection. Instead, she focuses on the female form and transcends reality entirely in poems such as ‘The Woman Who Shopped’ and ‘Map Woman’. This gives us an example of the perception and sexualisation of women in a metaphorical and symbolic way rather than simply isolating and blaming men. The shocking but powerful collection is one of my favourites from Duffy and for those who read it, you will never forget it!’

For the month of December we will be reading Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up as a lesbian within a religious family and community. I’ve chosen this book, with the help of some of the other GA reps, because Winterson is a truly inspiring woman within the literary community and generally as she
uses her literature to explore topics within and surrounding intersectional
feminism and this is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a while about important real-life experiences.

I’d love it if you want to get involved in reading this novel over the next month! One of the reasons I’ve decided to read it now is because it’s fairly short at under 200 pages and I know December is a busy month for everyone, including me, so I hope this encourages you to join in. Plus, the first Sunday of January falls on the 7th, which gives you even more time to read the book! Remember if you do decide to read this month’s book you can contribute your thoughts to the discussion section of our GoodReads page (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/19084704-december–oranges-are-not-the-only-fruit) or email us at girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com
with your thoughts to be featured in next months post!

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).