The Northern Soul Christmas Charity Appeal

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. What with those snow bells ring ting tingling and the lords a-leaping, it’s Northern Soul’s favourite festive holiday. But it’s also a time when we think about others, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves. With this in mind, Northern Soul is launching its first ever Christmas Charity Appeal in aid of two amazing charities. Below we tell you about our chosen beneficiaries. Then, if you scroll further down, you’ll see details of our online auction, running until December 21, 2016. We think the prizes are pretty special, and we hope you’ll agree.

Helen Nugent, Editor of Northern Soul


When Risha Lancaster’s brother Craig died in 2013, she and her wife Fie wanted to do something to honour him – and others in a similar situation. Craig suffered from mental health issues and had been homeless for some time. Just 37-years-old when he died of an overdose in a car park in Cardiff, despite having problems leading up to his death, Craig had been volunteering for Lifeshare, an organisation that helps homeless and vulnerable people in Manchester and Salford. His loss is keenly felt by his family. 

Coffee4CraigWhat started as a simple handing out of hot drinks to some of Manchester’s homeless just a few days after Craig died is now a 24-hour operation called Coffee4Craig. As well as a food and coffee service in Manchester, there is a food bank and four street kitchens across Cardiff and Manchester. At present Coffee4Craig supports more than 200 people every week. But they want to do more, as Risha explains.

“Our aim is to provide a seven days a week food provision so there’s always some place for people to come at any time, and we’d also like access to a building, preferably in the middle of the city, which we could turn into a night-time hostel where people can turn up and we can work with them offering a shower, clean clothes and other necessities.”

To read Northern Soul‘s interview with the founders of Coffee4Craig, click here. Other useful links include the charity’s website, its Facebook page, and Twitter account.

British Tinnitus Association

It is nigh on impossible to convey the debilitating effects of tinnitus to non-sufferers. After all, how can you sympathise with something that is, to all intents and purposes, an invisible condition? But this affliction affects one in ten adults in the UK – and there’s no cure.

British Tinnitus AssociationWhile it’s not uncommon for musicians and regular gig-goers to suffer from a form of tinnitus, what is less widely known is this: tinnitus can affect anyone, old or young, at any time, and without an obvious reason. And there isn’t just one kind of tinnitus. Yes, a ringing in the ears is one manifestation but there are many more types, from low, medium or high-pitched noise to a single sound or one with many components. For many sufferers, the noise is continuous. There is no escape. It can literally drive someone mad.

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) works hard to help sufferers but it receives no government funding; increasing awareness of tinnitus and its devastating consequences is a difficult battle. Over the next year, the BTA needs to raise more than £650,000 from donations and gifts to fund its work. While that might seem like a large amount, it is dwarfed by the huge sums generated by other health charities. The money will be spent on projects into treatment, management and cure of tinnitus, as well as the costs of running the Sheffield-based organisation, its various fundraising initiatives and its helpline. In 2016, the BTA answered more than 4,200 calls, ran 74 support groups around the country, and invested more than half a million pounds in research. Its work is invaluable.

For more information about the BTA, go to its website here. The organisation also runs Take on Tinnitus, an online resource for people new to tinnitus. More info is here.


Right, this is how it works. We have lots of amazing ‘you-can’t-get-them-anywhere-else’ prizes to auction off to lucky bidders. They are being offered by members of the Northern Soul team and some of our brilliant contacts and colleagues. Take a look at what’s on offer, choose something that takes your fancy, and have a wee think about how much you want to bid. Every single penny will be divided between our two charities. Although, if you prefer, you can nominate either Coffee4Craig or the British Tinnitus Association and we will ensure that all your cash goes directly to that one organisation. 

The minimum bid is £10 – but there’s no maximum! Once you have put in an offer, you will receive a thank-you email, and will be notified if anyone makes a bigger bid. At that point you can decide if you want to outbid them. All bids should be sent to the Editor of Northern Soul, Helen Nugent, at All you need to do is copy and paste the title of the prize into your email subject line, and include your bid amount in the body of the email.

The closing date for all bids is 5pm on December 24, 2016. Winners will be notified immediately and will be required to pay for their prize by January 5, 2017. Details of how to do this will then be released to winners. If your bid is unsuccessful, there will be no money to pay – although you can, of course, make a voluntary contribution.

So, what you are waiting for? Spoil yourself or someone you love this Christmas.


** Lunch for two people with the Editor of Northern Soul, Helen Nugent, at Gusto, Manchester

Helen NugentWhether you’re keen to get the inside scoop on Northern Soul, want to know what it takes to be an Editor, are interested in writing or looking to break into the world of journalism, this is for you. A quick glance at Helen’s CV reveals a darned impressive career, from her ten years at The Times as, among other things, a lobby journalist in the House of Commons, a Crime Reporter and a News Editor to her work for The Guardian, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday and, oh pretty much every national newspaper in the country, to her time as a broadcaster for BBC 5 live and numerous other radio and TV stations, lunch with Helen promises to be an anecdote-filled event. She is also the Money Editor of The Spectator.

Over a leisurely lunch at Gusto, set in the stunning surroundings of the Grade II listed Elliot House in Manchester city centre, you and a guest can ask Helen anything you want while enjoying a beautiful meal at one of Manchester’s premier destinations.

** An exclusive opportunity for aspiring and emerging arts journalists with Polly Checkland Harding

Polly Checkland HardingPolly Checkland Harding is the former Editor of the Creative Tourist website and winner of the 2016 Digital Media/Creative Professional of the Year at the Made in Manchester Awards. She is now Exhibitions Editor at Creative Tourist while undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. She also writes for Aesthetica magazine, a-n Arts News, The Skinny, TimeOut and more.

Join Polly on an exclusive guided tour of the press view of an exhibition at Manchester’s award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery in 2017. Your day will include the following: an introduction to the exhibition’s curator; tea and cake at The Whitworth, with time to discuss the exhibition and how the winner might approach a review; in-depth editorial feedback on the winner’s review of the exhibition; publication of said review on Creative Tourist with byline.

 ** Fine dining with Jeff Prestridge, Financial Editor of The Mail on Sunday, at London’s Launceston Place

27-01-16 PIC SHOWS PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR JEFF PRESTRIDGE, AT BBC BROADCASTING HOUSE IN CENTRAL LONDON. HE WAS THERE TO RECORD AN APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE BRATHAY TRUST CHARITY.One of the most respected – and nicest – financial journalists in the country, Jeff Prestridge is the Financial Editor of The Mail on Sunday. During an award-winning career, Jeff has cemented a well-earned reputation as a leading campaigning journalist. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else of his calibre. A Brummie by birth, a Londoner by work and with a Manchester-based sister, Jeff adores his cinema, the arts and theatre and loves creating pots of beauty for his balcony overlooking the Thames.

Join Jeff for lunch at South Kensington’s Launceston Place. Awarded two AA Rosettes, Launceston Place also won AA’s Notable Wine List title in 2013 – one of only seven UK restaurants to receive the accolade that year – as well as being awarded Best Wine List at the Tatler Restaurant Awards. Jeff is happy to natter about life, work as a journalist or anything else – and champagne will be involved.  

** Exclusive Liverpool theatre trip and mentoring session with Northern Soul’s Liverpool Correspondent

Damon FaircloughDamon Fairclough has been working as a professional writer for more years than he cares to remember. As an advertising copywriter he has worked for the likes of Sony, Toyota and Motorola, but he also writes about the arts and other subjects for a range of publications including Northern Soul. Damon’s writing career has included performances of his work at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and as part of the Liverpool Everyman’s Everyword season, and his week as artist-in-residence at the Curfew Tower in Cushendall, County Antrim still inspires and haunts him in equal measure.

Damon is offering a trip to a press night of your choice to the Everyman or Playhouse in Liverpool. The participant will receive hints and tips about writing original and insightful reviews, then receive mentoring to help them put together a piece of their own which will later be published on Northern Soul. This would suit aspiring or practising bloggers as well as people interested in writing about the arts. Damon is a superlative writer (check out his work for Northern Soul here) as well as being a thoroughly splendid chap. 

** A film reviewing mentoring session and visit to Manchester’s HOME with Andy Murray, Northern Soul’s Film Editor

Andy MurrayAndy Murray (no, not the Scottish tennis guy) has been working as a freelance writer since 1999, and is now Northern Soul‘s Film Editor. Easily one of the best writers, oh, ever, Andy has many strings to his writing bow including the late, lamented CityLife magazine and more recently The Big Issue in the North, among others. His CV also includes books on Russell T Davies. Andy teaches Film Journalism at the University of Salford

Andy will take you to Manchester’s newest arts centre, HOME, to see a film on current release, followed by a mentoring session on writing a review. This will be published on Northern Soul. See Andy’s work here.

** VIP tickets to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at The Lowry, Salford, and theatre review mentoring 

Carmel ThomasonThe Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has won more awards than it can possibly recall. Having seen it, Northern Soul can recommend it unreservedly. Our friends at The Lowry in Salford are offering two tickets to the press night on January 25, 2016, as well as interval drinks and a reserved table for drinks for a post-show chat. Manchester Theatre Awards judge and respected journalist Carmel Thomason will join you before the show, in the interval, and again in the bar after the show to talk about the production with regards to writing a review. If you decide to write a review, it will be published on Northern Soul

Carmel’s CV includes eight years as a writer on the Manchester Evening News. As a freelance writer her work has been published in a wide variety of publications including The Sunday Times, The Lady, Health Service Journal, Mslexia and the Newcastle Journal.

** One-to-one photography tuition with Northern Soul’s North East Photographer, Phil Pounder 

Phil Pounder
Phil Pounder is Northern Soul‘s North East Photographer. Originally from County Durham, Phil lives in Low Fell and can often be found down the Quayside with his ‘way too expensive camera’ (not his words obviously). 
Bid for this prize and you’ll receive a two-hour, one-to-one photography tuition session on location in Newcastle upon Tyne, tailored to your current level of expertise and interest. Phil will explain the basics of the exposure triangle, why you should shoot in RAW, and some basic editing techniques using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. He can also offer advice on future key purchases and, if you are a Canon shooter, you will have the chance to shoot with some pro lenses – just don’t drop them…
** An Old Lag’s Street of Shame with Daily Telegraph journalist, Richard Dixon
richard-dixonIt is one of the most famous streets in the world. Over the years, London’s Fleet Street has been witness to all sorts of shenanigans and scandals.
Join Richard Dixon, 35 years a national newspaper subeditor with more stories about the Street of Shame than you can possibly imagine, while he takes you on a loosely guided wander for two hours or so, channelling his years in the early 1980s in the dying days of hot metal when he was shifting at The Sun, The News of the World, the Daily Express and The Daily Telegraph. An anecdote or two, and a pint or two, will be included. Having worked with him at The Times for a number of years, the Editor of Northern Soul can say with good authority that this will be an afternoon to remember.
 ** Mentoring with award-winning playwright, Cathy Crabb
Cathy CrabbCathy Crabb is is an award-winning writer who has written extensively for the stage. Her plays include Beautiful House, Moving Pictures and Beyond the 4th Wall. Her critically acclaimed play The Bubbler toured in 2014. Last year, she co-wrote the musical Dreamers with Lindsay Williams. Cathy’s poetry appears in Best of Manchester Poets 2013 and her first collection Beside The See-Side was published by FlapJack Press. She is currently writing Meat Pie, Sausage Roll for Oldham Coliseum with Lindsay. 
Cathy (between you and me, one of the best and most genuine people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting) is offering one very lucky person the opportunity for playwriting mentoring via Skype. You will also receive a signed copy of her new poetry book, Mumb.
** Hair treatment, hair cut and blow-dry with tea and scones at Bury’s Grönn Hair Salon
Rachael KennedyRachael Kennedy is a hairdresser with a difference. With 26 years’ experience under her belt and a career spent working with some of the top salons in the country, Rachael decided it was time to go it alone and do things her way. With environmental and ethical issues riding high on a growing number of people’s agendas, Grönn is an ethical hair salon which aims to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible, without compromising on quality. Located in Bury town centre, Grönn is an eco-salon with big plans, not least its local community ambitions which include helping the homeless to learn skills like confidence-building and social media. And all of Grönn’s products are vegan-friendly.
Rachael is donating a hair treatment, cut and blow-dry, as well as some yummy tea and scones.
** Want to work in fashion? Coffee and cake with a director at a major fashion company

Julie Donnelly

Thinking about a career in fashion? JD Williams is the UK’s leading direct home shopping company, operating more than 20 successful catalogue brands. Founded back in 1875 by James David Williams, if you’ve seen Lorraine Kelly advertising clothes or Freddie Flintoff wearing Jacamo, then you’ll know JD Williams. This Manchester-based company specialises in the ‘larger’ woman which, to all intents and purposes, is the 21st century’s ‘normal’ size. With more than six million customers and 3,500 employees, this is a Northern company to be reckoned with.

Julie Donnelly is Ladieswear and Design Director at JD Williams. Based in Manchester, Julie has worked in buying for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in clothing, footwear and home. Her previous role was at Shop Direct where she was Head of Sourcing and Supplier Management. She believes in developing people and making a difference. Bid for this and Julie will offer advice and guidance about the fashion industry over coffee and cake in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

** Experience the life of a theatre director by observing a day in the rehearsal room with a one-to-one session afterwards

Lucia Cox

Lucia Cox is a theatre-maker with a Manchester Theatre Award nomination and a Brits off Broadway show on her CV. During her career, Lucia has played a pivotal role in the Manchester theatre scene, not least via her adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s One Hand Clapping which she also produced and directed – it is now a classic text published by Bloomsbury.

As Northern Soul Editor, I can tell you that Lucia is a proper fun person with bags of invaluable experience, and someone with buckets of expertise to relay. Bid for this prize and you will experience and learn from the life of a seasoned director by observing a day in the rehearsal room with a one-to-one session afterwards.

** Copy editing and/or proof reading from Pauline Hadaway 

Pauline Hadaway

Pauline Hadaway has worked in arts and education since 1990 and is co-founder of the Liverpool Salon, a new forum for public debate on Merseyside. Pauline was Director of the Belfast Exposed gallery of photography (2000-2013) and now works as a freelance writer, independent researcher and copy editor. A Research Associate with Digital Women’s Archive North, Pauline was Researcher in Residence with the National Co-operative Archive over the past year. Pauline has been published widely including Policing the Public Gaze; Re-imagining Titanic, re-imaging Belfast; and Escaping the Panopticon in Photography Reframed to be published in 2017. 

Pauline pledges three hours of copy editing and/or proof reading (around 3,000 words) free of charge. For businesses, students, academics, cultural organisations, community groups and creative writers, she can check and edit reports, theses, funding applications, research proposals, and advertising copy.

** Poetry mentoring from Northern Soul’s Poetry Correspondent, Wendy Pratt 

Wendy PrattAn award-winning poet, Northern Soul‘s Scarborough-born Poetry Correspondent Wendy Pratt‘s work has been widely published, including in a number of anthologies such as The Forward Anthology and The Emergency Poet. Prolebooks has published Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare and Museum Pieces while Lapstrake is published by Flarestack Poets. Wendy is part of the WoMentoring project which offers free mentoring for disadvantaged women. As a freelance writer, Wendy mentors through her website. Last year she won both the YorkMix and Prole Laureate poetry competitions.

Wendy is offering a signed copy of each of her three books, a critique on four of your poems and a one-hour mentoring session to be conducted via email. As someone keen to support new writers, if you’re an aspiring poet or trying to make your way in the poetry world, then Wendy is the person for you.

** A champagne lunch at an exclusive London venue with Gráinne Gilmore 

Grainne GilmoreFor many years, Gráinne Gilmore worked as a business journalist for The Times, latterly as the paper’s Economics Correspondent. Her financial knowledge is unparalleled, as is her experience in national newspapers. Today she works for a leading global property firm. Added to which, the Editor of Northern Soul can personally attest to the fact that Gráinne is one of the loveliest human beings you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet. Based in the capital, Gráinne is offering one lucky person a champagne lunch at an exclusive London venue. Believe me when I say it will be uber special. And you’ll have the chance to ask her anything you like (within reason…).

** Join Northern Soul’s Comedy Editor Marissa Burgess at a comedy club and receive mentoring for a comedy review

Marissa BurgessMarissa Burgess is Northern Soul‘s Comedy Editor. She was previously the Comedy Editor at Manchester’s CityLife magazine and comedy journalist at the Manchester Evening News. She spends each August at the Edinburgh Fringe reviewing comedy. Marissa has worked for a variety of publications including The Guardian, Time Out, The List, Chortle, WOW247 and The Big Issue in the North.

Marissa is offering a night out at a Manchester comedy club where she can guide you through the process of writing a review of stand-up comedy. The review will appear on the Northern Soul website. As well as advice, she also has plenty of tales to tell about the comedy circuit in the 17 years she has been working on it.

** A bespoke heart wreath made by Northern Soul’s Claire Fleetneedle, director of Whiddershins Craft

Heart wreathWhiddershins Craft is a cottage industry run by Claire Fleetneedle, who is also Northern Soul‘s herbal and foraging specialist. 

Based on the edge of the West Pennine moors, Claire crafts a wide range of gift ware and home ware, all of which she makes to order. All her creations are unique, hand-crafted and mostly made with recycled vintage materials. Claire’s most popular products are her bespoke heart wreaths and can be made in a range of styles. The lucky winner of this prize will receive a heart wreath made to their exact requirements.

** Mentoring session in arts reviewing and interviewing, plus tickets to a VIP theatre press night in Manchester

Kevin BourkeKevin Bourke is an arts broadcaster and writer who has contributed over the years to BBC TV and Radio and many other outlets including Northern Soul, The Big Issue In The North, Songlines, Creative Tourist, Manchester Confidential, as well as chairing the Manchester Theatre Awards. For many years he wrote about film and theatre for the Manchester Evening News, sneaking in esoteric folk, blues and Americana music when he could.

Kevin is offering a two-hour mentoring session in arts reviewing and interviewing, plus the chance to accompany him on a VIP theatre press night in Manchester. This evening will include free tickets, adult beverages and cheap gags.

** A subscription and other multiple goodies from leading poetry and short fiction journal, Prole

ProleProle is a leading literary journal of poetry and short fiction, widely read and widely respected. It is offering a year’s subscription and a number of other goodies. Co-editor Brett Evans will throw in a copy of his poetry chapbook The Devil’s Tattoo published by Indigo Dreams. In addition, Prole will provide five free entries into next year’s Prole Laureate Poetry Competition. In addition, if the winner is a writer, they will have free multiple entries to one of Prole’s annual competitions – short story or poetry (£200 to be won there).


** Dinner and tickets to a show at the Royal Northern College of Music

RNCMThe Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester is one of the world’s leading conservatoires with a rich and distinguished history. It is also renowned for producing a year-round programme of incredible shows and events. Most recently, it has benefited from a £7 million state-of-the-art renovation. The lucky winner of this prize will receive tickets to an RNCM-promoted event of their choice in the Spring season, as well as a pre-concert dinner in its Brodsky restaurant.