THE Beatles once famously said “all you need is love”, and for one Hexham-based charity organisation, that sentiment still rings very true.

Looking to unite the world through music is hip hop group The Warm Collective (TWC), made up of five North-East based rappers and singers from, or with roots in, Angola, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

The group first formed in 2016 in an abandoned shoe shop in Newcastle. It was put together by music producer and leader of musical project ‘Space 2’ at the YMCA Newcastle, Michael Evens, from Hexham, known by his stage name Musty, and rappers 4Real & KC2Phr3sh and singer Mota Masascey. The group have since welcomed singers Nelo and Georgia.

TWC’s music reflects the diverse membership over the past three years with their music including a range of music and cultural influences from across the globe including Angola, the UK, Tanzania, Jamaica, South Africa, Mexico, the Philippines and The Gambia.

“Our lyrics our socially aware,” said Musty. “We want to spread love and warmth through our music. We don’t do hate speech.

“Our philosophy is that our music provides something for the head, heart and hips. It should make you think, feel and dance.”

It was the group’s connection to Africa which spurred on their desire to engage in charity work in The Gambia, under the name Time for Change Foundation. The project was officially recognised as a Hexham/Gambian-based charity in April last year.

“We now use our music as a introductory handshake to our charity work. It puts what our aims are into context, and is a good way of getting our message across,”said Musty.

In little over a year, the charity has made a huge impact on the lives of people living in rural Gambia through their musical and education projects.

Musty, charity trustee and treasurer Rachel Donnelly, and TWC band members have spent months at a time in the Madina Kunkunding area of Gunjur in the Kombo South district. They have so far built a base for the project (without the use of any power tools or electric) called ‘Only Goodness Homestead’ out of reclaimed plastic, and a community bakery which now produces four-hundred loaves of bread a day through its clay ovens.

Now, the charity is working on a new water and sanitation project, replacing contaminated wells with boreholes in rural villages alongside setting up a farming system to make food production more self-sufficient for locals. But to get this endeavour off the ground, they are asking for help from the Tynedale community.

“In particular, we’re looking for any spare or used agriculture equipment which would go a long way towards making farming more practical for the locals,” said Rachel.

“We’re also looking for any used toys, colouring books and games which the children would love. Any old pipes or sinks would also be appreciated, because they can be put to good use in houses currently without a water supply.”

Alongside these projects, Time for Change is mentoring aspiring dancers, singers and rappers in The Gambia, and helping them to find work in local tourist destinations.

“We teach them the right codes of conduct such as how to get bookings and how much to charge,” said Rachel. “It’s also about bringing these creative people together, and creating a community.

“Our work has been recognised over there,” said Musty. “And the reaction has completely exceeded our expectations. We’ve worked with one of Gambia’s biggest musicians Jaliba Kuyateh, and performed for the First Lady of The Gambia at the British High Commissioner’s residence to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.

“It’s amazing to look back and consider how far we have come in such a short space of time.”

The organisation has been working with students from Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, who have been supporting the water and sanitation project by helping to raise funds from activities in the school.

“We’re hoping to get volunteers out soon,” said Rachel. “We’ve had a lot of interest from students who want to do charity work abroad, so that’s the next step.

“It’s a great opportunity because it gives young people a chance to learn about different cultures, whilst enjoying all the beautiful sights which The Gambia has to offer.”

The collective are currently recording a collaborative album, with the Hexham-based band Snazzy Kex, with music infused with global influences such as funk, hip-hop, soul, Afrobeat and reggae.

TWC will be performing at the Vault in Hexham on 6 September 6.

To support Time for Change Foundation visit