A Covid jab journey

It’s a freezing cold January morning, thick fog, a demolition site next door but me and my Dad are on a mission. Newton Heath Health Centre here we come! It’s Covid vaccination time and nothing’s going to stop us.Truth be told, we were a wee bit anxious. It’s not his usual surgery so the building is unfamiliar. The road to it was blocked off but we faithfully followed the diversion signs and arrived with 5 minutes spare. Perfect!

Cheerful yellow vested volunteers looked after us from the moment we arrived, guiding us to a parking space close by and showing us where to go. Once inside our hands were sanitised and we took a place on a marker.

From there, it was a bit like being on a conveyor belt; moving smoothly from one area to the next. A recess marked for social distancing, a waiting room with seats set apart and a row of masked faces behind computers; safe and separated, checking details, signing you in.

All doors are open for a free flow of air and fewer ‘touch points’. It’s bustling but calm, everyone getting on with what they had to do.

Short wait, then a trip down the corridor into a treatment room.

Coat off and one arm stretched out. The nurse was lovely.

“Is that it?” Dad asked. “That was quick.”

The sticker with the time on wouldn’t stick to his jumper so I stuck it on the back of my hand instead. It wasn’t necessary, just a precaution; someone was carefully monitoring when it was time for each patient to leave. 15 minutes passed quickly; it would have been quiet if not for Dad. He was chuckling.

“What’s tickled you?” Don’t know why I was whispering.

“I had a shave this morning, specially. Could have a beard behind this mask and no-one would know.”

We thanked everyone we spoke to; the nurse, the guides, the clerks and the volunteers in the car park. We’d have thanked the window cleaner if he’d been there. Then back home, to get warm again.

Found out later that my neighbours, an old friend of my Dad’s and Dena, local Pride of Britain Award winner no less, had all received their vaccine at the same centre on the same day. They all felt the same, it couldn’t have gone better.

Dad’s 90. He’s lucky to be amongst the first to receive the vaccine and he’ll be followed by millions of other people, all around the world.

Given the choice he’d have wanted me to have it first. But I’ll bide my time, do my best to stay safe and wait for the call.

It’s tiny thing; a little vial of liquid and a needle so fine you can’t feel it, yet it can save your life.

I rang Dad the next morning to check he was ok. “How are you feeling?”

“Just fine.” Then he added. “No, I’m better than fine. I’ve watched on and felt helpless all year. Now I feel I’ve done my bit.”

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Lakeside Community at the Café, Boggart Hole Clough

Here we are in January. It’s been a very trying year; many have faced huge difficulties and have struggled as we all faced an uncertain situation together.

One year ago, as the newly formed Lakeside Community Interest Group, we were devastated when our plans for a gardening club, reading circle, Easter egg hunt, lakeside lap challenge and a super VE Day party had to be put on hold for the foreseeable.So, we gave our heads a wobble, looked at what we could do and here’s what we managed to achieve:

We received funding from WeLoveMcr to tackle period poverty within the M9 area, dropping bags at doorsteps, care homes, schools, doctor’s surgeries and nursing homes. We also gave out hand cream, lip balms and hand sanitiser.We were given 100 Easter Eggs from Mantra Learning and Sheridan Lifts, which we distributed to households in M9. Plus arts and craft packs to keep the children occupied during the long months while the schools were shut. As well as bird boxes, bug jars, fairy doors and nature hunt sheets.

When the national lockdown ended we received funding from the Eric Hobin Fund, Northwards Housing. We used this to fund binoculars and bird books to encourage people to come out of the house and admire the natural beauty we have on our doorstep.

White Moss Youth Club gave us over 100 pedometers that we have been giving to people so they can monitor their steps while keeping active.

Working with MCC Parks Team we got involved with the Big Boggart Clean Up. Over 50 people joined in on the litter pick, making the park even more beautiful. We followed it with a cake sale for Macmillan raising £436.

As the weather got colder we created winter packs to give out from Lakeside Café; many of the items were given to us by @HealthyMcr.Over 20 shoeboxes were dropped off in Sharston for the Manchester Shoebox Appeal in November. A box was taken to the Lalley Centre for their reverse advent calendar campaign.

Winning Hearts and Minds have gave us 20 Christmas gift bags to distribute which accompanied the 100 boxes of mince pies supplied by Iceland. White Moss Youth Club enjoyed some at their luncheon club.

Partnering with Manchester Libraries we passed on 20 Winter Library Activity Packs, crammed with essential info and activities.In December we ran an amazing Christmas Raffle. The brilliant prizes included hampers from North Manchester Fitness, Winning Hearts and Minds and a fishing membership from King William IV Anglers.

None of this would have been possible without the support, help and generosity of the local community. We’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback and beautiful compliments received this year.

In no particular order our huge thanks go to: North Manchester Fitness, White Moss Youth Club, Walk2Run, MCC Parks Team, We Love Mcr Charity, Eric Hobin Fund, Northwards Housing, MCC Neighbourhood Investment Fund, HealthyMcr, Winning Hearts and Minds, King William IV Angling Society, Sheridan Lifts, Mantra Learning, Iceland, Manchester Libraries. Thank you all so much from the Team at Lakeside Café. We raise you a glass to say goodbye to 2020 and look forward to a fabulous 2021.

Keep up-to-date with opening times and events at the Lakeside Café on their Facebook page, just click here. And for Lakeside CIC click here.

Boggart Hole Clough is a large park with gardens, lakes and woodland walks situated on Charlestown Road, Blackley, Manchester. There’s a visitor carpark to the right of the main entrance.

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Street Life: Bootees and Bickipegs

I was born in the legendary ‘terrible winter’ of 47.Even when coal ceased to be rationed, the supply often ran out before the next delivery. Consequently, to survive the privations, new-borns had to be toughened up from day one.

My mother used to pin me into the bedclothes of my cot, to prevent me getting my hands free during the night. Even with ice on the inside of windows, I never lost a single finger to frost bite, so it must have worked. However, it has left me with a phobia about having my arms confined.

We were the Virol, rusks and National Dried Milk generation, when clothing substituted for the central heating lacking in our houses. Swaddling was out of date, but babies less than 5 lbs were kept in cotton wool jackets (not removed, even for washing) until the required weight was achieved.Even when a house had a bathroom, lack of heating meant babies were often bathed in a large pot sink in the warm kitchen. A mother whose baby wasn’t wearing wool next to the skin, with its little bottom plastered in zinc and castor oil, would make herself the talk of the Welfare clinic.

Terry nappies were expensive, and only came in one size – huge. They had to survive daily boil washes until the family’s youngest child was toilet trained. By the early fifties, most babies wore rubber pants, but knitting patterns for the ‘pilch’ (a natural wool garment worn over nappies) was still available.

Vest and nappy were covered by layers of winceyette, leaving the now globular-shaped baby to be topped off with something smart but impractical. The preference was for dresses, romper suits or the unisex leggings and matinee jackets with gender appropriate headgear.Unlike many fathers of the time, dad could change a nappy, though his method was unorthodox. He was also happy to baby-sit while mum had a night out at the pictures with my grandparents. One night, following a 12-hour shift on GPO ‘Christmas pressure’, he settled himself to listen to Saturday Night Theatre with his tired feet in a bowl of water. There was a scream, and dad was halfway up the stairs before realising it came from the wireless rather than my cot. Mum arrived home to find him sheepishly mopping the sopping carpet.

The presents babies received were like children of the past: seen but not heard. We had to be satisfied with the sound of rattles and humming tops, while today everything from a mobile to a potty plays a nursery rhyme or animal noise.The most traditional gift for new-borns was a teddy bear. Dad won mine at a fair before I was born. I would describe Ted’s appearance as unique rather than scary, but for the sake of persons with a nervous disposition, his picture has been withheld.

None of my surviving toys has ever been washed. With children’s propensity for putting everything straight into their mouths, it’s amazing so little consideration was given to hygiene and safety in the past.

Another inexplicable thing is the adult conspiracy that kept children believing babies materialised from nowhere. My own first intimation there was ‘summat up’, was getting home from afternoon school to find a ‘little stranger’ asleep in my old cot.

Prior to my sister’s arrival, living alongside me were 4 adults in a small council house. If she had been born in the 21st century, her bath, bouncy chair, Moses basket with stand and the myriad other essentials she couldn’t have done without, would have necessitated an extension.

Unoccupied coach-built prams were a menace in narrow lobbies and passages. But no self-respecting mother would fail to put the swanky pram outside for her baby to get its daily dose of ‘fresh air’.Children stayed in their prams far longer back then. By removing some of the base panels, an older child could sit upright with the rest of the ‘bilge’ being utilised for the shopping.

Tumbles from prams must have been common before harnesses were fitted as standard. Strangely, when there were far fewer speeding motor vehicles, more toddlers were to be seen wearing reins looped over the arm of a parent or responsible sibling.Today’s all-terrain pushchairs and ergonomic baby seats are all very well, but as a child, I would have traded the lot for a bottle of that concentrated orange juice from ‘the Welfare’.

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