It’s Not Round!

Posted by editor on November 24, 2009 under Business, training and employment, Community, Education and health

Bang in the middle of Openshaw, the New Roundhouse is hard to miss. Len Grant meets Maria Gardiner of Manchester Settlement to find out what goes on inside and asks why this very angular building is so-called.

Manchester Settlement's £2.2 million New Roundhouse

Len: So, tell me about the name?

Maria: The Manchester Settlement is part of the national Settlement Movement which began in the late 1800s when university cities, like Manchester, sent out their professors to help in the poorer districts. It those days, before the NHS, it was a case of distributing medicines and helping the sick and infirm. IN those days Manchester Settlement was based on Every Street, Ancoats in a disused circular chapel, known as the Round House, so we’ve kept that connection with our past.

The original Round House on Every Street in Ancoats

The original Round House on Every Street in Ancoats

Len: And what happens now in the New Roundhouse?

Maria: We run education programmes for young people under 16 who, for any number of reasons, aren’t able to fulfil their full potential at mainstream secondary schools. They may be facing challenging circumstances at home or have other issues which mean that the local high school isn’t the best place for them to learn effectively. We have support workers who help our students with other aspects of their often chaotic lifestyles and keep them focused. Our education programmes are registered with OFSTED.

Len: But does it work?

Maria: One young man who had an attendance record of less than 25% at high school in September has now got an attendance record with us of over 95%. So, what we does, works. We’ve got dedicated staff  who give our young people the chance to develop emotionally as well as academically.

Maria: "It's heart-breaking to see some children written-off at 13 or 14."

Maria: "It's heart-breaking to see some children written-off at 13 or 14."

Len: Who else is here in the Roundhouse?

Maria: The building is owned by the Manchester Settlement but Manchester College and Mosscare Housing are also here. As well as being tenants they’re also partners in a broader support framework. So in this one building our young people get educational support from us, housing support from Mosscare and training from The Manchester College.

Len: Tell me about some of the other opportunities here.

Maira: “This downstairs space is open to all residents for any number of different activities.”

Maira: “This downstairs space is open to all residents for any number of different activities.” Photo: Daniel Hopkinson

Maria: We’ve got a book club running now, and a chess club. There are adult literacy courses, playschemes and computer courses. We plan to turn the New Roundhouse into a learning hub for the whole community, adults as well as young people.

Len: What do you personally get out of your work?

Maria: I’ve a genuine desire to help young people. I was lucky, I had a happy childhood but it’s heart-breaking to see some children written-off at 13 or 14 for no fault of their own.

I’m a qualified accountant by trade. I have worked for a couple of charities and used to work in the motor industry before the Settlement. I joined at a very turbulent time for the organisation: the director at the time eventually left and it looked as if we would close. I was determined not to let a charity over 100 years old fold, so I started writing funding bids and won Lottery funding, money from Children in Need, corporate funds, and managed to keep going. Four years later here we are in this £2.2 million building.

Outside inside: the New Roundhouse has potential for different community events.

Outside inside: the New Roundhouse has plenty of adaptable space. Photo: Daniel Hopkinson

But there’s still a connection with our past, with Manchester University. We’ve set up the East Manchester Legal Advice Clinic here where residents can get advice from solicitors and lawyers from the university. Law undergraduates and postgraduates sit in on the sessions as part of their training.

Manchester Settlement is on 0161 614 8448
info@manchestersettlement.org.uk and www.manchestersettlement.org.uk

Archive image courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection.

Lest We Forget

Posted by editor on November 12, 2009 under Community, Education and health

Len Grant visits a special Remembrance Day service in Gorton… for the whole community.

Rev David Grey leads the service at the war memorial

Rev David Grey leads the service at the war memorial

It’s been Remembrance Day today: 91 years since the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany marked the end of the First World War. Now, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, thousands of services are being held up and down the country as people stop in their tracks to remember the fallen in conflicts past and present.

Respect from across the generations

Respect from across the generations

I’ve come to Gorton Cemetery where schoolchildren from 17 primary and high schools are joining ex-servicemen, young men from the local training corps, serving police and fire officers and local families to commemorate the lives lost.

St Clements, Openshaw: “We’re here to remember everyone who has died.”

St Clements, Openshaw: “We’re here to remember everyone who has died.”

Sharon Adesiyan is here with her classmates from St Clements School in Openshaw. They have been learning about the Second World War at school. What, I ask, have you found out? “All the women took over the men’s jobs while they went off to fight,” she says. “And did they do a better job?” I ask, rather unfairly. “They did just as good a job as the men,” she replied, diplomatically.

A brass band from Wright Robinson College strikes up to signify the start of the service. “It’s not about us old folk”, says Rev. David Gray, “those who put their lives on the line did so for the world their children would inherit. Today is about you and about all of us honouring them by doing all we can in our time to build peace for you and with you for future generations.”

There are prayers, readings, more from the band and a procession of wreaths. Then, at 11 o’clock, the bearers lower their standards and their heads in silent contemplation.

Les Worthington: “This is the ninth year and each time we go from strength to strength.”

Les Worthington: “This is the ninth year and each time we go from strength to strength.”

This event at the cemetery is relatively recent. Only since 2001 have local people gathered each November, all due to the efforts of Les Worthington, chair of the Belle Vue branch of the Royal British Legion. “There were only eight of us at that first remembrance service,” he recalls, “and only two of them were servicemen.” Since then, Les has built up the event to include local schools, and, judging by the turnout today, he has been extremely successful.

He allocates each school a section of the cemetery and after the service the children and their teachers investigate their portion on a map supplied by Les.

“We’ve been coming down for four years now,” Neil Flint, headteacher of Aspinall Primary School in Gorton tells me. “It’s incredibly useful in getting the children talking about the various conflicts and the sacrifices made. There are eight war graves in this section of the cemetery and for each one we find the age, rank and regiment of the fallen soldier.”

Each school marks the  war graves in their section of the cemetery

Each school marks the war graves in their section of the cemetery

As the standard bearers roll up their ceremonial flags, the schoolchildren scatter to all parts of the cemetery and place poppy crosses in front of the 157 war graves. They ask their teachers questions about each headstone, adding their own family’s experiences of great-grandfathers and grandfathers. Today is a day they will not forget.

Nutsford Vale

Posted by editor on November 9, 2009 under Environment

Years ago this patch of woodland in Gorton was a landfill site, but now – after winning a £300,000 grant – Nutsford Vale has its sights set on becoming a visitor destination.

“Every Sunday was disturbed by the whine of trail bikes tearing around,” recalls local resident, Alan G. “It was becoming a playground for bikers and a favourite spot for illegal tipping.”

Nutsford Vale

Nutsford Vale

Fed up with their piece of countryside sinking into abandonment, Alan and some of his neighbours set up the Nutsford Vale Park Project more than 10 years ago to lobby for change. Now, after a decade of small grants and piecemeal improvements, the Vale has hit the jackpot: more than £300,000 will be spent in the next two years to create a valuable community resource.

The money comes from a £4.7 million initiative by the North West Development Agency to fund the remediation of 400 acres (equivalent to about 200 football pitches) of brownfield land in Merseyside and Greater Manchester. The ‘Setting the Scene for Growth’ programme aims to transform what were once municipal tips.

Jackson's Clay Pit, 1964

Jackson's Clay Pit, 1964

A generation ago the 40-acre Nutsford Vale was a known as Jackson’s Clay Pit, with lorries and heavy machinery working the relatively small patch between the densely populated housing. Once closed the pit was filled with council waste until 1978 when, presumably, it could hold no more.

Red Rose Forest, the partnership organisation charged with ‘greening’ Greater Manchester, submitted the successful bid after consultation with the residents’ group. “We’ve been working together for some years now,” says Hilary Wood from Red Rose. “We originally raised some funding through the Green Tips Project which meant we could fence off part of the site, and do a little planting.”

Matthew's Lane Corporation Tip, 1974

Matthew's Lane Corporation Tip, 1974

There’s a tarmac path that cuts across the thinnest part of the site, a convenient and popular shortcut with staggered barriers to deter the motorbikes. The entrances will be a priority once the work gets underway later this year and this path will have a hedgerow running alongside it.

“First, we’ll get rid of all the rubbish,” says Hilary, “then we’ll enhance the entry points and secure the boundaries by finishing off the fencing. We’ll consult with local people about what they’d like to see in the Vale. Maybe there could be a play facility, or a feature, some sort of attraction that would give people a reason to come.”

“Although we want to make it more accessible,” she continues, “we don’t want to lose the wilderness element. A wildflower area is a possibility and it certainly should still be a place where people can escape to.”

The first job will be to get rid of all the rubbish

The first job will be to get rid of all the rubbish

Tony Hall, another resident and member of the friends’ group, agrees: “In the summer, with all the foliage out, you can hardly see any of the surrounding houses. You feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“It has the potential to follow in the successful footsteps of Clayton Vale,” says Julie Lawrence, New East Manchester’s Environment Programme Manager. “There’s a strong ‘friends’ group which is essential to the long term success of the Vale and with the right sort of maintenance programme and support after the initial investment, there’s no reason why Nutsford Vale shouldn’t continue to prosper.”

Consultations will take place locally with interested groups to discuss plans for the Vale.

redroseforest.co.uk
nutsfordvale.wordpress.com

Archive images courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection.

Principal’s Blog: October 09

Posted by editor on November 4, 2009 under Education and health

Here’s more from Principal Designate, Guy Hutchence as he keeps readers updated on the progress of the East Manchester Academy which opens in September 2010.

Megan Rush from All Saints in newton heath, checks out the academy after helping to bury the time capsule

Megan Rush from All Saints in Newton Heath, checks out the academy after helping to bury the time capsule

October has been an important month for east Manchester parents. They have had to complete their admission forms, making preferences for high school places for their Year 6 children. We’ve done our best to help and advise. There have been family information days and drop-in sessions at the New East Manchester offices as well as considerable email correspondence. We’ve tried to answer as many queries as possible, but also signpost parents and carers to Choice Advice and the city council’s Admissions Team. I’ve been delighted with the level of interest in the new academy that’s been generated in such a short time.

A number of meetings this month with Manchester City FC, Manchester Aquatic Centre, Sportcity and the English Athletic Association have also been very useful in planning for September 2010. With their help and support our pupils will have exciting sports activities as part of the school timetable as well as after school and in the holidays.

Well done to the jingle team and thanks to Key 103!

Well done to the jingle team and thanks to Key 103!

Recording for our jingle on the Key 103 bus

Recording for our jingle on the Key 103 bus

There have been two special highlights for me this month. Firstly, at the twin assemblies at St Barnabas and St Wilfrid’s primary schools, Key 103’s Paul Galloway presented certificates to the creative brains behind the radio jingle that brought 400 to our September open evening. Well done to all involved.

Burying the time capsule in front of the atrium

Burying the time capsule in front of the atrium

Then, over on the site of the new academy, we held a time capsule ceremony where pupils and headteachers from over 10 local schools donated mementos that are now buried in front of the atrium. The time capsule event was memorable not only for the fantastic contributions, but also because we turned the tables on local celebrity photographer, Len Grant who was on hand to record the event with his customary expertise and humour. This time, however, we also took shots of him as no time capsule would be complete without a picture of the man behind the lens of some of east Manchester’s most moving and iconic photographs. History will record his face as well as his work!

I showed the children and headteachers the progress we've made on site

I showed the children and headteachers the progress we've made on site

Many thanks to all in the community who have helped out this month and good luck to all those youngsters in Year 6 who are on the final journey of their primary school experience.