Northern Soul and People’s Powerhouse are partnering to share good news stories about businesses, people and communities coming together in the North of England and showing us the best of humanity during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve heard so many examples of people showing great kindness and compassion and we think that these stories deserve to be shared far and wide. Let’s bring a little sprinkle of joy to people’s news feed and show the world how great Northerners really are, especially in challenging times.
As part of a new project called Silver Shed, Haslingden-based Cotton Shed Theatre Company is singing outside care homes to raise the spirits of the elderly and those with dementia. Care homes visited include Ashlands Care Home, Newchurch, Turfcote Care & Nursing Home, Haslingden, Holme Manor Care Home, Townsend Fold, Highfield Hall Care Home, Haslingden, and Hewlett Court, Ramsbottom. The group is also running online workshops for members, including those with additional needs and disabilities so that they can stay in touch with one another.
Another organisation hoping to keep people positive during lockdown is Active Tameside which continues to provide online activities for residents of Tameside. This week’s itinerary includes yoga, kickboxing and cooking classes. The team has also been out into the community to do some low-intensity group activities to help increase exercise and combat social isolation.
Meanwhile, Chorlton Bikes Deliveries is offering free car deliveries for local residents, independent traders and charities. While delivering for Tibetan Kitchen, which provides free cooked meals for vulnerable people in Whalley Range and Moss Side on a Thursday, they heard about two isolating neighbours, Hilde and Mary, who check in with each other every day at 4pm. Glynis, a member of the volunteer group, commented: “Kindness is catching. We have also picked up fruit donated by allotment owners and supermarkets that has been turned into puddings and cakes by Cracking Good Home Food Bakers and distributed by us to Emmeline’s Pantry and the Reach Out in the Community homeless project, among others. That’s 450 car-free miles with bikes and trailers on loan to us from Transport for Greater Manchester for community use. Having a positive contribution to make has definitely helped both our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s mutual aid indeed.”
Beyond Housing in Redcar and Cleveland is continuing to support the local community. Along with Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, the company bought and dropped off more than £1,000 in food and essential items.
Lastly, since the COVID-19 crisis began, Tess Vandenberg has volunteered for Visit from the Stork in Greater Manchester. Tess said: “As soon as the crisis started, Visit from the Stork realised that there were parents in need, so they started delivering nappies and baby products to parents who were unable to get out of the house, either due to self-isolating, not being able to shop with children or lack of money. They have served hundreds of families all over Greater Manchester while running this from their homes. I wanted to recognised Kimberley and Rachel, and all the new volunteers for all their hard work.”
Food for thought
Food lovers across the world are being invited to contribute to a new book which will raise funds for global charity Action Against Hunger. The Life in Lockdown Project has been created by Yorkshire publishers Face Publications which has in recent years published cookery books by leading chefs including Sat Bains, Galton Blackiston, Ben Tish, Andrew Pern and James Mackenzie. The book (to be published next year) will document the impact of the current Coronavirus crisis on the world through food. A ‘diverse society-focused’ book, it will feature stories of people living through the pandemic, capturing the mood, spirit, hopes and fears of their lockdown lives.
Speaking of food, this week Open Kitchen Manchester hit 100,000 meals sent out to vulnerable people during lockdown.
Supporting young people and local businesses
It’s been reported that unemployment in Britain will reach the one million mark over the coming year unless the Government provides job guarantees or incentives for school-leavers and graduates to stay on in education. With this in mind, various initiatives across the region are seeking to provide local support.
In Manchester, Mayor Andy Burnham has appointed former Olympic athlete and Commonwealth gold medal winner Diane Modahl to lead a task force to help young people across Greater Manchester get jobs when the health crisis ends. The Young Person’s Task Force has been set up in response to the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on young people. It will listen to what they need as part of the COVID-19 recovery process which includes direct engagement with young people and youth organisations as well as with colleges, training providers and business.
Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has called on the Government to reverse a decision not to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer, saying that “the system isn’t built for families like mine to succeed”. The Manchester United and England forward has raised about £20 million to supply three million meals to vulnerable people while working with charity FareShare UK during the coronavirus lockdown.
Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region (LCR) has announced a £3 million LCR Future Innovation Fund for Liverpool. The grants will be available to help local businesses to “adapt and innovate” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, Bury Council, via its business rates team, has distributed £32 million to support small and medium businesses under the original government Small Business Grant Fund. A total of 2,733 businesses in the borough have received grants of £10,000 and £25,000. Businesses can check eligibility and access the online application form or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice.
Even with the lockdown restrictions being eased, pensioners still face long periods of social isolation away from friends and family, coupled with the fear of a potential second wave of coronavirus. This is why satellite TV service Freesat has partnered with Age UK Manchester to donate Set Top TV Boxes to Manchester’s elderly community. The partnership aims to keep older people more connected and entertained, in the hope that it might reduce feelings of loneliness caused by social isolation.
Despite much debate surrounding the 2 metre rule, social distancing looks set to stay. And while Manchester needs to keep that physical distance in place, the city is trying to address how to reduce the emotional gap with the launch of its own virtual hug. Dubbed the ‘Manchester Moment’ the bespoke virtual hug (made by the council creative team) has been designed so that anyone can send it with a message to those they feel could benefit from a sign of appreciation, or even just a little TLC. It is also aimed at reducing the loneliness that some people will be experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Manchester hug and other materials will all be on a website called welcomebackmanchester.com which offers a whole range of information as lockdown measures gradually start to lift including mental health support and contact details.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Deputy Editor
Main image: Circles painted in New York’s Domino Park to enforce social distancing © Marcella Winograd, from The Life in Lockdown Project.