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.
Getting creative in the community
From rainbow sketches to chalk art and photography projects, communities across the North are getting creative during lockdown.
Award-winning theatre company Slung Low has opened a new art gallery with a difference in Leeds. Based in Holbeck and Beeston, the LS11 Art Gallery will display the best paintings, drawings and photographs created by artists of all ages on lamp posts. Last month, the company asked people from the area to email their works of art they have created during the pandemic. The Leeds company takes a copy, prints on special plastic board and then places them on lamp posts around Holbeck and Beeston.
Clicked by Kate in Warrington has taken more than 150 doorstep portraits to raise money for Warrington Food Bank and has raised £3,500. Kate said: “I started this project after many requests for pictures from friends and clients who had just had babies, were celebrating big birthdays in lockdown or were supposed to be getting married. As a professional photographer, work completely stopped for me, so I decided to put my skills to good use and document our community during COVID-19, on people’s doorsteps and from a safe distance.
“The coronavirus lockdown has triggered an unprecedented rise in food bank use. All over the country, more and more people are experiencing hardship and food crisis during these difficult and challenging times. As a family we work closely with Warrington Food Bank, so I decided that his project could help to support this vital service for our local community.”
Feeding the vulnerable
CATCH Leeds is collecting and distributing food donations to families in need. A team of young volunteers has been helping every day with their food hub. And the Ladies of Steel and Dormanstown Primary School have provided more than 300 free school meals to residents in Dormanstown in Redcar and Cleveland. The initiative was sponsored by Beyond Housing and a large portion of the meals have benefited their residents. The group is operated by local volunteers including staff from Beyond Housing.
Providing support for keyworkers
We are all incredibly proud of the hard work our NHS and care home staff are undertaking in hospitals and care homes during the current coronavirus crisis.
Inspired by the dedication of local NHS and care home staff, The Black Bull in Sedbergh wanted to be able to do their bit to keep these superheroes going. Which is why they have decided to dedicate their time (unpaid), to preparing healthy, wholesome meals for valuable frontline carers. The team got in touch with various organisations across South Lakeland including Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) and Westmorland Care Home and offered to provide meals to the teams.
Volunteer members of the kitchen team are also maintaining The Black Bull’s existing bread baking project which involves making fresh loaves several days a week and giving it to a local retailer who donates any proceeds to local charities so that they can help support people in the local community who need financial assistance.
Archie Fisher in Tameside has been making and selling bee-inspired soap for the NHS. The youngster had originally hoped to raise £25 but the soaps were so popular he has now raised almost £500. “We couldn’t prepare for how this took off,” explained mum Samantha. All money raised has gone to support the Captain Tom Moore Fund and the NHS.
Meanwhile, Space Station Day Nursery in Droylsden ran an online fundraiser throughout April with everyone who made a donation entered into a prize draw to win a £50 shopping voucher. In total, £604 was raised thanks to parents, carers and staff, with the fundraiser well received across all the Kids Zone Nurseries Group. Staff at Space Station have also created a video to let parents and children know how much they are missed.
Lastly, roads in Rochdale have been painted with messages to thank our keyworkers. The markings are now down at Whitehall Street at the approach to Rochdale Infirmary and outside Birch Hill Hospital.
Looking to a positive future
As we get further into the lockdown arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the road ahead often seems uncertain. But there are plenty of organisations thinking of innovative ways to harness the power of culture and creativity to lift our spirits and keep us connected.
The national Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance is re-imagining Creativity and Wellbeing Week in these strange times. While we may not be able to come together in the same way, the alliance is looking to provide a space where people can celebrate the incredible individuals and organisations that work in this sector. There are many people already adapting what they offer for the online world, but there are also many who carry on working away from digital platforms.
As part of the Culture Health and Wellbeing work, North Tyneside is taking the opportunity to showcase what is happening in the borough through posts on North Tyneside Libraries Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. The theme of the week (May 18-24) is Positive Futures which is needed more than ever right now.
Community support and fundraising
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. But they also need our support.
In Bury, community groups can bid for a share of £10,000 to support them in the outstanding work they are doing to help people through the COVID-19 crisis. Around £20,000 has already been awarded to local organisations who have been working with the five community hubs across Bury on the borough’s coronavirus response. But the local authority is keen that every penny in its Standing Together (Community Safety) fund is allocated and spent and is encouraging more groups to apply. Groups can bid for up to £1,000 each to support the health and wellbeing of local people and meet the needs of vulnerable residents. The £30,000 pot was split equally across the five community hub areas and has already been fully allocated to groups in East Bury and Prestwich. The council therefore wants to hear from groups in Whitefield, Radcliffe and North Bury. For more details of these grants, go to the VCFA funding bulletin.
Frontline charities and local authorities working with the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network, (GMHAN), Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, and Manchester Homelessness Partnership, are calling on individuals and businesses across the region to help support those who are in lockdown without a home, friends or family, during the COVID-19 crisis. The organisations have been coordinating the COVID-19 emergency supplies depot (set up by Capital & Centric and Kamani Property in Manchester’s New Cross) which was broken into over the bank holiday weekend with thousands of items stolen. After seeing the demand for services double since the start of the lockdown – and now the huge setback following the break in – these charities are now seeking continued support from the community.
So, how can you help? Working with people who are, or have been homeless, GMHAN has developed its Live Needs List, a list of essential items that will help to keep people in Greater Manchester safe. Hygiene products such as deodorant/shampoo and PPE supplies (face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser) are most in demand, but people still need non-perishable food as well as clothing and mobile phones. The emergency depot, which was set up at the start of the outbreak, has so far received more than 40,000 product donations and support from regional businesses like Vimto, Warburtons, and The Hut Group, and members of the public. Now the organisers are calling for individuals and businesses across Greater Manchester to continue to donate crucial supplies to the network of charities which include The Manna House, the Booth Centre, Mustard Tree, Back on Track, Greater Together Manchester, Cornerstones, MASH, The Men’s Room, Red Door, The Wellspring and many more. Anyone interested in making a donation should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, Taphouse TV Dinners, a food and support project based out of one of the last remaining pubs in Hulme, is supporting some of the most under-served communities in the inner city of Manchester by collecting unharvested foods and food donations to cook a pay-as-you-feel-meal for the community. Many of the service users are struggling families and individuals isolating due to a health condition who have slipped through the net. The organisation receives no support or funding, so is completely reliant on support from the local community.
This project is being delivered in partnership with The Old Abbey Taphouse, Geeks for Social Change, ACORN, and Gaskell Garden Project, combining community engagement, food wastage, circle economies and tech innovation to support people in the immediate vicinity. The initiative is expanding its food packages to contain art packs to help those who are self-isolating stay active and creative throughout the lockdown and are also offering volunteer support to isolated or vulnerable people by collecting groceries or prescriptions, providing check-in welfare calls, help with gas and electric payment and other services on request.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Deputy Editor