EastEnders and Coronation Street actress Michelle Collins gathers stars to support workers in lockdown

Actress Michelle Collins. Picture: Michelle Collins

Actress Michelle Collins. Picture: Michelle Collins - Credit: Michelle Collins

Sir Ian McKellen, Mandeep Dhillon, Joseph Fiennes, Sir Derek Jacobi, Lennie James, Alex Lawther, Miriam Margoyles, Lesley Manville and Elaine Page are among the names backing #ForTheLoveOfArts.

Former EastEnders actress, and north London resident, Michelle Collins and the Equity Benevolent Fund have developed #ForTheLoveOfArts to support entertainment industry workers who have lost their livelihoods during Lockdown.

Since the lockdown began, the fund has been dealing with more than 250 claims each week for financial support from performers and creatives who cannot afford to pay for food, utilities or other essentials. Many workers fall through gaps in the government support schemes.

Michelle recruited her star guests to record short monologues for the fund’s YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/3cZMh6s

The project also features a number of new and original pieces of writing from Hugh Dennis, Tom Wright, Damon Rochefort, Andrew Lynford, Chloe Moss, Susan Oudot, Martyn Hesford, Stewart Permutt, Tyler Rigby and Tony Grounds.

Michelle has lived across north London, having been born in Hackney, been a teenager in Holloway and later lived in Crouch End, Highgate and East Finchley.

She said: “The current crisis has had a devastating effect on my industry affecting so many of us indiscriminately. I wanted to help. I started ringing around friends in the industry and one thing led to another and I suddenly had a list of fantastic, well known and highly respected film, TV and stage actors on board, all wanting to help in any way they could. I also have a group of extremely talented writers who have all agreed to write a monologue for whoever needs one.”

Equity has committed to boosting the Equity Benevolent Fund to £1 million and is currently giving out up to £86,000 per week in aid - but more is needed and it is asking the public for support.

Maureen Beattie OBE, Equity president, said: “Equity is hugely grateful to the actors, writers and the team at Genesius Pictures who have given their time and expertise to this vital project. We are particularly grateful to Michelle Collins for her generosity and commitment to the welfare of her fellow workers in the entertainment industry. The money raised will make a crucial difference to the thousands of performers and creatives that the Equity Benevolent Fund helps in this crisis.”

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The initiative aims to encourage members of the public to upload their own performances under the #FortheLoveofArts hashtag.

To donate to go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/equity-benevolentfund

To give via text message, text EQUITY to 70470 to give £5.00 or 70480 to give £10.

For other ways to donate, visit www.equity.org.uk/howtodonate