Opinion: Band Aid for a new generation

Peter Stanford

The original Band Aid single achieved many things. It raised a great deal of money for Ethiopia first, and then Africa. It drew the public's attention to global issues of poverty that tend to get overlooked in the comfortable West. Its most notable achievement, however, was that it engaged a young audience with development issues, with charities and with a wider world of need.

Survey after survey about attitudes to our sector shows that it is precisely this constituency that we consistently fail to reach. They regard us as stuffy, worthy and no fun at all - which some of us, in our weaker moments, can indeed be. Band Aid bypassed that perception to great effect. It brought a whole generation face to face with international injustice at a precocious age and harnessed the optimism and dynamism of youth to the cause of change.

Though he himself was well past pimples when he fronted this phenomenon, Bob Geldof nonetheless came to characterise the youthful no-nonsense, cut-the-bullshit attitude of the movement Band Aid set in motion.

So news that there is to be a Band Aid 2 - a new version of the original single, with fresh faces - is a cause for celebration. It is easy for grumpy old men like me to decry today's generation of pop stars as lacking the broader commitment of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or the late and often overlooked Harry Chapin, but Band Aid 2 will show a contemporary passion for using music to force the pace of political and social change.

To take but one example, Beverley Knight is among those reported as having agreed to take part in Band Aid 2. Not only has she got an amazing voice - listen to her self-penned No-one Ever Loves in Vain on her new album Affirmation - but she is tireless in working to raise awareness, especially in the black community, of HIV and Aids.

Retreads of old records always get 40-somethings talking about the good old days, but a new Band Aid single will, it is to be hoped, silence any doubt by bringing vital, new, young blood to the ongoing struggle to build a better world.

- Peter Stanford is a writer and broadcaster. He chaired the trustees of the national disability charity Aspire and now sits on various trustee boards.

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