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.
In response to the difficulties many people face during the Covid-19 crisis, our region’s local organisations and individuals have come up with brilliant ways to provide support to the most vulnerable members of society.
Calder Foods in Carlisle has donated a huge amount of food to the Carlisle Covid-19 Community Help Group. Meanwhile, Visit from the Stork, a social enterprise for new parents and parents-to-be across Greater Manchester, has delivered more than 60 packages of baby essentials to families in Manchester and Salford. Thanks to funding from the We Love MCR charity, Salford CVS and Salford CCG, they have been able to help many families. But they still are looking for donations of nappies, wipes, baby wash and baby shampoo, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to help.
During the crisis, Naveed Khan, founder of Bradford-based Enkahnz, is prioritising NHS customers, emergency services, local authorities and other key business groups who need access to the vehicle specialist’s repair and breakdown division. The company has customised a Barugzai Range Rover into a Covid-19 response vehicle so it can help key workers. It is also distributing safety and food packages to vulnerable, elderly and homeless people.
Better Food Traders, which supports ethical businesses to sell sustainably-grown fresh fruit and veg, has enlisted the help of its customers to collect and deliver weekly orders on a voluntary basis to people who cannot make it to one of organisation’s usual collection points.
Martyn Hyde of Scarborough’s popular Eat Me Café has created Scarborough Community Kitchen to help feed vulnerable members of the community during the crisis. A team of five prepares and delivers chilled home-cooked meals accompanied by a box of groceries. This is funded through public donations of money and foodstuffs donated by the public and collected in trolleys by participating retailers.
Unsurprisingly, it’s proving difficult to keep children entertained and distracted during an unprecedented global pandemic. But there are organisations collating resources to help families across the region.
Parents and co-leaders from the Resilience Revolution Blackpool have been working behind the scenes to co-develop and co-create activity packs to help spread resilience in family homes across Blackpool.
But wait, there’s more. Andy Johnson, a former BBC One Inside Out NW presenter who now runs a one-man gardening company called Dig Your Scene in Manchester’s Chorlton, is offering free interactive films for primary school kids on gardens and nature to keep our young ones occupied – and to give their parents and carers a break from teaching.
Supporting our key workers
We’re beyond appreciative for the hard work and bravery of all our amazing key workers. Across multiple industries, people are committed to doing their jobs during the most testing of times and often in less than ideal environments. But with news of insufficient PPE supplies, businesses and individuals across the region are using their skills to provide more equipment.
A wardrobe assistant from Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre is putting her talents to good use during the theatre’s temporary closure to make equipment for NHS nurses. Isabel Innes is usually found in the wardrobe department of the theatre where her day-to-day work can include anything from making pirate outfits to carefully recreated period costumes. But during the theatre’s current closure, Innes (who has moved back to be with her parents in Beeford in the East Riding of Yorkshire) has been making scrub bags, face masks and headbands for NHS staff after reading an appeal from Facebook group For the Love of Scrubs – Our NHS Needs You.
Businesses across the North are looking to give something back to people still going to work so the rest of us can stay safe and well. Here are a few organisations doing great things to demonstrate their gratitude.
Healthworks in Newcastle has repurposed one of its sites in collaboration with Newcastle GP services and Newcastle Gateshead CCG to be used as a designated treatment clinic for patients who are referred for COVID-19 assessment or treatment but don’t require hospital admission.
RECLAIM project in Manchester has created a video to celebrate and recognise the keyworkers in these young people’s lives. Meanwhile, EATMCR, Manchester Young Professionals (MYP) and Manchester’s Finest have teamed up to feed NHS staff on the front line in Greater Manchester. To start with, they are supplying Stock Exchange Hotel (who are putting up NHS workers for free) with bread and other essentials from Pot Kettle Black. The initiative has also partnered with Street Cars who will help to transport the supplies. But it doesn’t stop there. They are also looking to partner with restaurants, cafés, coffee shops and other food outlets from across the region to provide for our front line workers and are asking for donations to help fund this brilliant project. For more information on how to donate or if you’re a supplier interested in helping, click here.
Lastly, Manchester-based Yolk, in collaboration with Zabby Allen (creator of The Procrastination Paper) has launched Project Pick-me-up, a treat box for key workers in the UK. Containing feel-good products from hand cream to coffee, bubble bath to books, all donations bring a smile to a stranger. They are hoping to raise £1,000 for 50 treat boxes. To get involved, visit their JustGiving page here and head over to their social media pages to nominate a key worker for a pick-me-up.
Businesses supporting the community
The Co-op pulled its planned Easter television advertising campaign and donated the airtime to a food charity, FareShare. The £2.5 million campaign was originally planned to promote its chocolate eggs but, in the wake of the Coronavirus, the retailer has turned over the time to promote local heroes and encourage people to support food banks. The organisation also hopes to raise £30 million to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown by allowing members to donate their unspent shopping reward points to a new support fund which will also draw on the chief executive’s salary.
Community Clothing (a clothes company whose aim is to create jobs and help restore economic prosperity in some of the UK’s most deprived areas) is creating NHS scrubs at its Cookson & Clegg factory in Blackburn using specialist fabric from Pincroft in Chorley, another Community Clothing partner factory.
Arts companies providing relief for freelancers and artists
In these strange and uncertain times, there is a growing need to support artists, freelancers and gig-workers who are at the heart of many of the region’s creative communities.
GM Artist Hub is a new project bringing together many of Greater Manchester’s most well-known organisations to support the independent performers, artists and companies that make up the area’s vibrant artistic community. Participating venues and arts organisations include Community Arts North West, Contact, HOME, The Lowry, Manchester International Festival, Octagon Theatre Bolton, Oldham Coliseum, Royal Exchange Theatre, SICK! Festival, STUN (Sustained Theatre Up North), Waterside Arts and Creative Industries Trafford, hÅb/Word of Warning and Z-arts.
Over in Liverpool, FACT is inviting artists living or working in the North of England to create work during lockdown. The scheme, entitled FACT Together, will offer 10 early-career artists a grant of £1,500 each plus three months of support to develop an idea that will be presented online. In addition to the grant, the 10 selected artists will form a network, receiving individual and group online mentorship. This includes technical expertise, professional development, production support and promotion of their work. Each new digital work created will become part of The Living Planet, FACT’s 12-month online programme which explores our relationship with the natural world. Artists have until midnight on April 26, 2020 to submit their proposals.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Deputy Editor