Taking nothing for granted

I rarely read newspapers or watch news programmes. Truth is I avoid them. Now and then, though, something catches my attention, like the fires raging out of control in the Amazon.Far away on the other side of the world the Amazon rain forest was a place I read about at school or saw on TV documentaries. A permanent fixture so ancient and vast, it would always be there and always flourish. Then, there’s the oceans, all that plastic rubbish… and dying fish.

I took these places for granted.

I’m very lucky. I live a short tram ride from an amazing city and am free to enjoy all it has to offer from theatre, music, shopping, cafes and bars. The nearest airport is half an hours drive. Most of the best known supermarkets are within easy walking distance… and I take all that for granted too.But it doesn’t end there. Moston and the neighbouring areas have art, music, dance, theatre, a radio station, football stadium, fishing, cycling and running. With a range of social clubs to entertain and activities to engage all ages, whether you’re a cub scout, on a diet, a boxer, gardener, a champion bowler, love photography or a gripping game of chess, there’s something for everyone.Not to forget the parks, several large open green spaces, the Rochdale Canal, Moston Brook. Even a nature reserve; our very own piece of countryside.

How lucky are we? This weekend alone there’s been:

A Nature Day event next to the Lower Memorial Park.

FC United drew against Atherton Collieries in an FA Cup match.

Wayne Jacobs broadcast live reggae from the Miners Club Radio.

North West Theatre Arts Company performed at Openshaw’s Festival

At Boggart Hole Clough Simply Cycling were out in force. As were North Manchester Fitness walking group (one of their members was elsewehere at the Great North Run) and King William IV Angling Society Juniors were, oh yes, angling. The cafe was busy as ever.As for me, I nipped across the fields to the Nature Day. The carrot cake on the cake stall was to die for. A young lady, who I thought was there to help serve them up, delivered a pitch that would have had Alan Sugar ditching his diet.

Birds from Vale Royal Falconry put on a fabulous display, you could cast a fishing line, try your hand at wood carving, weaving, all sorts.Back across the fields again and through the park. The sun was out and it looked glorious.

I don’t take it for granted.

If you’ve been busy, missed out and want to find out what’s going on, have a nosey at the noticeboards in the supermarket and library. Or search Facebook and check out some local groups. Here’s a few:

Moston Brook Friends Group,  Lakeside Cafe – Boggart Hole Clough,  Miners Community Arts,  Broadhurst Community Centre,  Harpurhey Neighbourhood Project – The Centre,  Simply Cycling,  North Manchester Fitness, King William IV Angling Society,  Forever Harpurhey and Moston,  NWTAC,  Vale Royal Falconry.

Photos: Vale Royal Falconry, Piccadilly Gardens Manchester, the guys from King William IV Angling Society, Lower Memorial Park Failsworth

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Carers Week 2019

It’s like waiting for a bus. You go ages doing the same old thing, week in week out, then everything happens at once. That’s Carers Week for you. Good fun but I’m half glad it’s over, I’m knackered!

First off, a trip to the Bridgewater Hall for the Halle Orchestra performing The Lark Rising, including a mini tour and buffet. What a treat. What a spectacular building and how lucky are we to have such talented musicians in our city. The ice-cream tubs (I mean it would be rude not to) were divine.Next up, Walking Football at Manchester City Training Stadium. Walking Football, if you didn’t know, is an actual thing that people do. The game has its own set of rules, even its own league and the Man City trainers run these sessions twice a week. It was a brilliant afternoon, the training facility was awesome and the buffet… delicious.The third event on my list was an Italian meal at Dom’s Tavola Calda on Deansgate. I decided to make a day of it and took an early tram into town. Had a rare mooch around the Arndale before meandering through M&S to the restaurant.Tucking in into Italian??

I soon spotted someone I knew, plonked myself down and had great time. Fabulous atmosphere, like being on a works do. Finished with a tiramisu as light as air, washed down with a glass of vino blanco – bellissimo!

Finally, and much needed after all that food, the week rounded up with a brisk walk, courtesy of Manchester and Salford Ramblers, around Salford Quays and Media City. It was easy to get to on the tram and the weather was perfect.

The walk took us past the Imperial War Museum and Ordsall Hall, both of which are free. I had a meander through the Blue Peter Garden and a nosy around the Lowry Shopping Centre. Thoroughly impressed and I’ll definitely go back.Somewhere near Salford Quays

There were lots of other things going on that week that I didn’t get to but a massive thanks to the organisations involved for their time, funding, facilities and hard work.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to get out, have some fun and meet new people.My fellow walkers outside Ordsall Hall

Carers Week isn’t a one-off. There are regular meetings, trips out, free training sessions, coffee mornings and activities going on all across Manchester all through the year and you can easily access them as well as get advice, information and support.

Not sure if you’re a carer? This might help…If you are local to Harpurhey/Moston, workshops run by Manchester Carers Network have been held at Broadhurst Community Centre. Manchester Carers Forum hold monthly meetings at The Avenue Library and Learning Centre in Blackley, Age Exchange run an activity club at EachStep on Charlestown Road and there are rumours that Manchester Carers Centre will be running sessions at Harpurhey Wellbeing Centre on Church Lane starting next month.

Further information on other localities and details of future events can be found by clicking on the links below:

Manchester Carers Network, Manchester Carers Forum, Manchester and Salford Ramblers, Manchester City Walking Football, Broadhurst Community Centre (FB)Imperial War Museum North, Ordsall HallAge Exchange, Bridgewater Hall.

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Age UK Manchester opens a new shop in Harpurhey

I’ve come to Age UK Manchester’s newly opened shop where I’ve arranged to meet Ros Morton, the Manager. Ros runs it alongside the Deputy Manager, Shelley, with the help of five volunteers.“Might be obvious, but talk me through the sort of items you sell and what you don’t.”

“We sell women’s, men’s and children’s clothing” she starts, “shoes, handbags, belts, toys, books, DVD’s, household items, ornaments,  bric-a-brac, jewellery (apart from worn ear-rings), furniture and electricals.”

Ros explained that not all items of furniture are suitable for resale because of Trading Standards rulings and drivers check Fire Hazard labels before collection. Some other items need fire labels too but all the details are on their website.

I’d assumed stock was received in plastic charity bags – the type that drop through your letter box; but that’s not quite the case.

“We’ve found the best way to get donations is by promoting the shop around the local area; letting people know we’re here by word of mouth and on social media. We’ve done a few events, handed leaflets out about Age UK Manchester, how to volunteer, how to donate and about our collection and delivery service.

Nearly all the stock sold in the shop is donated, mostly by people filling up the special bags (available at our shops), or by just dropping items off during shop opening hours.”I donate to charity shops and buy from them. For me, condition is really key.

“Of course customers want to buy clothes in good condition. We sort and check what we sell but we don’t waste anything. Damaged clothing is sent for recycling and we receive payment for it so it still brings in income. “

“Do you ever negotiate on a price for something?” I ask her.

“It’s important for the people who have been kind enough to donate their items that we set a fair price and not undervalue them. We’ve lots of experience and take into account the original cost, the condition and, to be fair to the buying customer, keep it affordable.

The money we make in this shop helps to fund activities and services we provide in Manchester, like the ones at the Crossacres Resource Centre in Wythenshawe, and our information and advice line in Manchester City Centre.”

I wander around the shop. There’s a nice, positive feel about the place. It’s well organised, easy to find what you’re looking for and the displays are inspired.

Ros has experience as a community worker as well as charity shop manager and loves both aspects.

“For me this isn’t just a shop. People come in, have a look around and buy things at a reasonable price but it’s a friendly place, we have regular customers who drop in for a chat. Sometimes they make a purchase and sometimes they don’t. If they leave feeling good then that’s fine.

We’ve got lots of space and we’re looking into getting the most out of it. Not just how to generate more income but how we can contribute to the community.”It’s getting busy so I take my leave and thank Ros for her time.

The idea of perfectly good clothing ending up in the dustbin or cluttering up cupboards is bonkers. Passing them on to a charity shop’s got to be better, so have a clear out. If you fancy treating yourself this one’s well worth a visit.

The Harpurhey shop is located opposite B&M, just click here for details, including opening times and volunteering opportunities.

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