Our caring aims are all very much the same

Barbara from Creative Community reports from the second Big Meet on Monday, 10th April.

After last month’s success at the Factory Youth Zone local community groups have again been invited for a get-to-know-you session. It’s Big Meet 2 and tonight we’re at The Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston.

We’re hoping this early evening session will attract people who can’t make a daytime event.

Members of the LRG (Local Reference Group) are here to meet and greet. Anthony from Everyday People, Stephen from Moston Lane Traders, Pamela from the Factory Youth Zone, Jane from Manchester Communication Academy, Lou from The Miners and Kath and I from Creative Community. Graeme and Helen from Forever Manchester are here too.

First through the doors are ladies representing Sidney Jones Court, a local sheltered housing scheme. “We call ourselves The Inbetweeners,” Sandy explains, “because we do a bit of everything!”

Refreshments are offered as more people arrive. “I’m off cake for Lent” says Bernie. “Nothing for me ’til the weekend.” The rest of us look on sympathetically as we tuck into our chocolate Swiss roll.

The evening starts with a warm welcome from Anthony (from Everyday People) and we’re put into three groups for a warm-up quiz. On the screen we see a picture of a male singer from the 50’s, we just have to write down who it is.

“Is that a man?” someone shouts as another picture comes up. There’s lots of laughter from those of  us who know it’s a photo of a young Elvis.

At the end of the quiz – and after helpful clues from Anthony – each team has 18 points and we go to a tie break. Gary from the Frank Cohen Drop-in Centre comes up with the winning answer. The prize is a gallon of tea!!!!

Next is an introduction from Helen and Graeme. As with the last ‘meet’, Graeme has put down a map of the area in masking tape. He says it’s an improvement on the last one. With a little prompting we all stand on the map where our groups meet.

As it turns out, it’s very nearly a circle so we grab a chair and begin to introduce ourselves.

The groups are diverse, we have a lot on offer in Moston and Harpurhey. There’s a radio station, a diabetes support group, a community food bank, craft groups, a drop-in for recovering alcoholics and drug users, and music and arts.

We’re invited to link up with a group we know little about to find out more. This turns out to be very positive and good links are forged and invitations made.

Helen discusses training and we all have a think about what support our particular group needs.

Everyone is then invited to take part in ‘Heads, Hearts and Hands’. Around the room are three big sheets of paper and we write down what our groups know about, what we are good at and what we feel passionate about.

When we’re all done it’s interesting to see that – despite our diversity – our caring aims for our community are very much the same.

We end up with an informal chat, new friendships and links are made and we look forward to the next Big Meet.

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“It sounds like something from the Wild West.”

Barbara from Creative Community recounts a typical Wednesday arts and crafts session at The Miners.

It’s Wednesday morning and the group are getting ready to start. We are down on numbers today, there is a nasty bug going round which has hit a few of us pretty hard.

Some of the group are already knitting, the rest look at today’s project: a card of flowers that will be suitable for Mother’s Day, a birthday, or a get well soon card.

Some of us talk about Event City and how disappointed we were with the Hobby Crafts show last week. Despite this we came away with bargains and will probably go to the next one.

Ill health becomes the topic of conversation and one of the members says that she swears by ‘Pulmo Baileys’. There’s a stunned silence because no one else has heard of it.

We’re all intrigued by this weird-sounding medicine. “It sounds like something from the Wild West,” someone says. Wonder if anyone will be brave enough to go and buy some!

The nice thing about our group is the variety of conversations. No one knows where we’re going with our chatter but it certainly is diverse and invariably we will learn something new.

By now lunch is being served. We don’t go down to the cafe, our food is brought to us by our resident chef Matthew. Today’s hot pot looks particularly good, as does the meat pie and chips and the all day breakfast.

With food in front of us the conversation turns to school dinners and what our mums gave us as kids: mashed eggs with soldiers, bananas on toast or with custard.

Someone fondly remembers the weekly spoon of cod liver oil, and whilst half the group lick their lips at the memory, the rest of us grimace. That’s obviously one you either love or hate.

“Do you remember eating coal when you were pregnant?” someone asks.

“What does it taste like?”

“COAL!” shouts someone else from across the table, which makes us laugh.

The cards are nearly finished now, it’s always amazing how different each one looks and everyone is pleased with their end result. It’s nice to have time for yourself with good friends.

Creative Community was formed for local people wishing to take part and learn new skills in creative activities such as card-making, knitting, etc.

The group is open to all and also has a very good understanding of mental health issues.

Not everyone who attends takes part in an activity, some just come for a cup of tea and a chat.

Our group is friendly and welcoming and meets at The Miners Community Arts and Music Centre, Moston every Wednesday from 11am till 3pm and the cost for this session is £2.

Here’s our Facebook page.

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