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.
The past few months have been difficult for communities across the world. During this trying time, some of our region’s local organisations and individuals have come up with innovative ways to provide support, comfort and advice to the most vulnerable members of society.
Transform Lives Company (TLC) in Liverpool has set up Zoom video chats for the groups they would normally support face-to-face. Adam from TLC says: “It was an amazing experience, especially in the case of our most recent Give Get Go groups who were only a week or two away from completion. They all become such good friends during the time they spent together on the course, we wanted to keep that connection going. When they entered the group chat and they saw the faces of the group they spent 10 weeks with, of the people they’d grown with, their face lit up with a smile. They were all so happy to see each other again, joking around with everyone as if they were still sitting together in the meeting room.”
The focus for moving activities online is to make sure that nobody who has passed through TLC, past or present, feels they were alone during this time.
Oldham Council, Oldham Foodbank and Action Together have worked together to coordinate the delivery of emergency food and other essential personal and household basic items to vulnerable people in need, as well as running a food voucher scheme for others.
This delivery offer is for people in the local community who are genuinely in emergency need because they are self-isolating and don’t have any friends or neighbours who can support them or are unable to leave the house to shop for these items. The helpline (0161 770 7007) is open from 9am-5pm on weekdays and 11am-2pm on weekends.
Meanwhile, the central hub at Warrington Hospital is calling for the local crafting community to produce crafted hearts to bring comfort to families of patients affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. Those who can knit, crochet, or sew are being asked if they will use their time at home to let people know that their community is thinking of them. The hearts will be made into packs of four, three of which will be given to bereaved families by the hospital and the remaining crafted heart placed with their loved one. The hearts can be knitted, crocheted, or made of fabric and must be made of clean yarn or fabric and placed in a sealed and taped bag which is dated. These can be donated to the Community Hub or collected by arrangement.
In addition to the hearts, patients on the wards are finding that the days are exceptionally long without visitors and would be grateful for ‘boredom busters’ such as games, magazines, writing paper, pens and envelopes, adult colouring books and coloured pencils. Located in a Portacabin at Kendrick wing, but external to the main hospital, the Community Hub is open 8am-4pm Monday to Friday and is also asking for donated essential items. To arrange to drop off donated goods or arrange a collection call 01925 662 666 or email WHH.Charity@nhs.net.
The current situation can take its toll on our mental health so Manchester Mind is offering free online well-being sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday including meditation and methods to calm the nervous system.
Feeding the vulnerable
Jacob Young, MP for the Redcar Constituency, joined the Ladies of Steel around Dormanstown delivering food parcels to those in need. Young says: “Chris and Debbie [from Ladies of Steel] have really stepped up to the challenge and taken it on themselves to help our community at this difficult time. It was a real pleasure to help them.”
Meanwhile, community enterprise Zest is delivering essential items to people who are self-isolating, vulnerable or have low mobility in Sheffield. The service is entirely voluntary.
Championing creative industries
The arts have been hit hard by COVID-19, but there are initiatives attempting to ease the situation. Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced a £400,000 package of funding to provide immediate support to the city’s music, film and TV industries. The Music Fund will provide up to £10,000 of grant or loan funding to support micro-businesses and SMEs in the sector and help “futureproof them for the longer-term”, and The Film and TV Development Fund will provide investments of up to £25,000 per project to support the development of “ambitious and distinctive content” across feature film and TV genres.
But wait, there’s more. Acclaimed theatre company Not Too Tame (NTT) based in Warrington, Greater Manchester is pitching for stories for an online mini-series called #LocalLegends. NTT is asking people from across the North to contribute to this amazing project to support communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. The organisation has assembled a team of writers and performers who are donating their time and talent to help those in need and are asking people in the North West to share stories of their own local legends to inspire, provoke or make people laugh their socks off. Artists include Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Joe Sims, Yusra Warsama and many more.
Supporting our keyworkers
We’re so grateful for the sacrifices our brilliant key workers are making to keep the country running and take care of our most vulnerable. We’ve been social distancing, clapping for the NHS every Thursday night and signing up to volunteer our time, but these organisations are using their resources to go even further.
A high-tech printer from Manchester Central Library is being used to produce protective headgear for local health and social care workers during the coronavirus crisis. Before the lockdown, the 3D printer formed part of the library’s offer to the city’s business community and was accessible for free via Manchester’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC). Until the library can reopen to the public, staff are using the printer to produce face shields for distribution as part of the ShieldNHS initiative. The printer is running at the home of a staff member who has volunteered to take part and who has also built a second 3D printer to double the potential output. Around 40 headbands have already been produced, which are set to be attached to acetate sheets to make them ready for use. Staff are aiming to create 15 to 20 new shields per day during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Magnox, a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company, has donated more than 66,000 items including disposable respirators, suits and gloves that comes from Magnox, its contractors and suppliers. All the PPE can be spared without impacting on nuclear safety or emergency preparedness.
But they’re not the only ones donating to our brilliant keyworkers. Members of Manchester’s Chinese community have donated thousands of face masks, gloves and aprons to protect social care workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The city’s Chinese Centre, based in Ardwick, has also raised more than £16,000 for the NHS.
In addition, N Brown Group is showing its appreciation to the amazing NHS staff who are working tirelessly to keep us safe by donating everyday essentials from pyjamas to duvets to the frontline NHS staff in Manchester.
And Manchester gin distillery, The Spirit of Manchester, has turned production over from gin to hand sanitiser to support the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West. Manchester Central Convention Centre, situated above the railway arch distillery, has been transformed into the 750-bed hospital to help the NHS cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Like all frontline services, the NHS Nightingale North West struggled to source hand sanitiser amid a huge shortage across the country, so Manchester Gin made the decision to dedicate its 1,000-litre copper still, Wonder Wend, to producing the desperately-needed sanitiser.
And lastly, one for all the foodies out there. The Manchester Food and Drink Festival is using its online platforms to create a portal to promote the local hospitality industry during the COVID-19 crisis. The MFDF website and social media channels, plus a new MFDFTV You Tube channel, will be the city’s virtual food festival until the real thing can take place. So far, the industry has delivered an inspiring show of adaptability, support and altruism with restaurants and bars doing everything from completely contactless meal delivery to feeding NHS heroes for free. MFDF aims to bring the city’s food and drink industry together to showcase amazing initiatives, support local and independent businesses and provide a hub of activity for foodies at home including tutorials, recipe videos and virtual wine tastings.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Deputy Editor