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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Cameras, caterpillars and cake

We met up at the Little Lavender Community Hub and kicked off the event with a brew and a slice of cake. I went for the vegetarian option. It was the best carrot cake I’d EVER tasted.

The ‘we’ is a small group of people on a Nature Photography Walk with photographer Rich Bunce. No-one’s met before but we have two things in common, we like walking and we like taking photos.Our route starts at Wrigley Head Bridge, takes us along the Rochdale canal near Failsworth, under the Metrolink bridge, over the lock and down on to Moston Brook. Then we pick up the path through the undergrowth and follow it along the edge of the brook until we’re back at Wrigley Head.

“Just before you take a shot, pause a moment and think. Would it be better from a different angle or is this the best? Does that make sense?” We nod at Rich and each other.

“Do you just delete photos that haven’t worked out as well as you’d thought? Instead take a moment to work out why and next time they might be better.” We nod at Rich and each other.

“Ever taken what you thought was the perfect scene but didn’t notice the plastic bag flapping in the tree in the background?” I nearly shouted “I know what they are. They’re witches knickers!” but nodded instead.Our cameras range from a top of the range digital SLR, to handy compacts to mobile phones. You don’t need anything fancy; it’s what you do with it that matters.

As we stroll along Rich stops now and then to explain something and the group gathers round to peer at laminated examples from his rucksack. He talks about making the most of nature’s shapes, lighting, reflections, backgrounds, colour and the impact of simplistic views. We hang on his every word. He sets us challenges along the way.

It all makes perfect sense and we get busy, clicking our cameras at everything, literally everything we see, trees, plants, spiders webs, paths, bridges, caterpillars and each other.Now and then other walkers go by in groups, nodding and exchanging a smile as they pass. I wondered who they were and wondered if they wondered what we were doing. I found out they were Co-op employees on a charity walk (the Hope Challenge). They were cheerful and made a good day even better.

Back at the Little Lavender Community Hub Cafe Rich got a well-deserved round of applause and we had a quick chat before he had to leave. I’d assumed he was one of a team.

“No it’s just me” he said. “I get about though. Do various photography sessions, walks and workshops in Yorkshire, Manchester, Leeds and even London. I held one once while I was on a family holiday. Once was enough!”

When I asked him what his biggest challenge was his answer surprised me. “Marketing” he said. “It’s so important but takes up a lot of time.” I’ve seen his website and I reckon he’s spent that time pretty well.As for time, we’d had a brilliant one, loved every minute and learnt loads. The weather was kind, we’d taken hundreds of photos…and not one with ‘witches knickers’ in the background.

A big thank you to the Moston Brook Project for organising the event and the Manchester Festival of Ageing for the grant to make it possible.

To find out about other events around Moston Brook check out their Facebook page.

Details of other activities and photo walks with Rich Bunce can be found on his website.