Our readers recommend 10 Greater Manchester charities to support this month

Plus a mini local gift guide, and the rest of our weekly briefing

Good afternoon Millers — this is a bumper festive briefing including a mini local gift guide and our list of local charities you can support this Christmas. They have been nominated by our members and urgently need extra help this month having struggled to fundraise as usual because of the pandemic.

If you missed our weekend read, it was a moving feature about four of our readers who have been shielding during the pandemic.

There are now more than 7,000 of you on the list after one of our biggest ever weekends of signups. Welcome to our new Millers! As always, we ask that if you have any friends or colleagues in Greater Manchester who might enjoy The Mill, please forward this newsletter to them or hit the share button below.


Monday news briefing

Vaccine | Community vaccinations for Covid-19 are about to begin in Greater Manchester, after hospital jabs kicked off last week. They will begin at the Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre in Wythenshawe tomorrow, which has been chosen as the first community hub, with more areas to follow. “People who are eligible for the vaccination will be contacted by their GP with all the information they need about it,” Manchester City Council says. “Eligibility will depend on when people turned 80, along with any other medical considerations.”

Tier 3? | Will Greater Manchester (or parts of it) escape from Tier 3 restrictions when the government reviews the rules this week? We should find out on Wednesday, and there is a decent case to be made. The average infection rate continues to fall and is now below the national average, and no borough in GM is now in the top 50 worst-affected local authorities in England (Bury is 64th and Rochdale is 81st). The hospital numbers (below) continue to drop, with 107 Covid patients in critical wards as of last Tuesday (down 7%) and 765 patients in non-critical beds (down 17%). The Guardian reports that the leaders of Trafford, Stockport, Manchester and Bolton “are all pushing hard” for their areas to be treated seperately from GM.

Data released by Andy Burnham at his press conference last week.

GMP | There is growing pressure on Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, after a withering report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary found the force is routinely failing to record crimes. GMP didn’t record an estimated 80,100 crimes reported by members of the public in the year to June, and a higher proportion of violent crime went unrecorded, including domestic abuse. The report also says too many cases are being closed without a full investigation, and it comes on the back of extensive criticism of the force over its malfunctioning computer system. Earlier this year, The Mill revealed a major data breach at GMP, which is currently being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Unemployment | There could be an additional 100,000 people becoming unemployed in Greater Manchester by the middle of next year, according to Lou Cordwell, co-chair the GM Local Enterprise Partnership. She shared the forecast with journalists last week and warned that it would be worse in the event of a no-deal Brexit. She said business confidence has been badly damaged by the government’s “flip-flopping” over Covid restrictions, and that firms are focused on getting “stable trading” in January, which might be more important than changing tiers this month.

Camelot | The former Camelot Theme Park near Chorley is being dismantled after sitting un-used for eight years. Some of the park’s rollercoasters have been sold since it closed its doors in 2012, and now diggers have moved in to start clearing the site, which is owned by a property developer. “Despite the initial magic and popularity of Camelot, that had all faded by 2012, with bad weather and events such as the London 2012 Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee blamed for declining visitor numbers,” reports Lancs Live.

Things to do this week

Panto | The Oldham Coliseum took a huge financial hit when it was forced to cancel panto this year — the show that generates a big chunk of the theatre’s annual revenue. But it has created a digital replacement called “Panto Digital Storytelling” — solo recordings of pantomime stories from the perspective of Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. Buy your tickets here.

Scenes from the Coliseum’s digital panto.

Music | On Friday night you can enjoy the company of Mr Wilson's Second Liners — a band named after Tony Wilson, who play Manchester club classics in the style of a New Orleans funeral marching band. They are playing a 40 minute Mad Friday set, and you can find more details here.

Christmas | You can follow a trail of Christmas windows through Levenshulme. It is based on a community art project from Sweden and involves following a map of local businesses and homes that are lit up throughout December. “In dark times lets work together and find some sparkle,” say the organisers.

Levenshulme Community Christmas Windows.

Shopping | This Saturday and Sunday, you can head to Barton Arcade between Deansgate and St Anne’s square for Barton's Xmas Booty-Sale. The market will feature a big selection of local independent traders, not to mention mulled wine and bratwurst. Check out which traders will be there here.

Music | The Hallé has just announced a specially recorded Christmas Concert, which will be available for free on YouTube from midday on Sunday. You can can tune in by heading to the orchestra’s channel here.

Great local charities that need your help

Our members have been nominating charities that they support or work with, and which deserve our support this Christmas. Below are the first ten, with more to come next week.

I support Mustard Tree, as it provides really practical support to homeless people and families. Food packages, support in finding places, then furniture packages, clothing, and job training. A brilliant local charity. (Dione Miller).

I nominate the Greater Manchester Law Centre. It helps people to assert their rights on issues such as social security benefits, housing and debt. An essential service since legal aid was cut so drastically during austerity - and advice agencies have lost large chunks of funding. (Elaine Burrows).

My nominated charity would be Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton under Lyne. It’s a charity very dear to our hearts although, thankfully, we have never had need of it. We contribute to all their collections including lottery and raffles and as an extra incentive for us, our daughter in law is a nurse there. (Bernard Corbett).

We support Wood Street Mission who support low income families in Manchester and Salford. Specifically at Christmas they provide new toys and gifts for children aged 0-14 years old, to make sure they have something special to open on Christmas Day. Families come and choose the gifts they would like to give their children from the selection of gifts donated by supporters. (Michelle Hirst).

Wood Street Mission collects books for its We hold our Books Forever project.

Consider supporting Bridging the Gap this Christmas. It's a Hulme-based charity that runs the Manchester South Central Foodbank projects and has seen an unprecedented surge in demand this year due to Covid. This Christmas it's providing hampers to those in need, plus "Christmas in a box" for 100 families to enable them to cook dinner at home. (Gill Darling).

I have long been a supporter of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. They support projects in the largest children’s hospital in the UK. We are so lucky to have this facility on our doorstep in Manchester, it’s wonderful. (Hannah Thomas).

I nominate Reach Out To The Community, a local charity which works to identify homeless people in Chorlton and Didsbury and guide them towards support. They work alongside the council and a coalition of charities working to end rough sleeping. (Moira Sykes).

I nominate the Cheadle Heath Community Association — it’s a community group for elderly people to mix with young kids and their parents. They do some great work in the local area (Cheadle, Stockport) and it was a lifesaver for my wife in getting to know the local community. (Richard Heap).

Life as a person seeking asylum in the UK is more challenging than anything many of us will ever face. Based in Hulme, The Boaz Trust works to end destitution amongst asylum seekers and refugees in Greater Manchester by providing safe accommodation and holistic support. (Janet Turnbull).

I nominate the Oasis Centre in Gorton. I organise weekly craft workshops at the centre and see the amazing work they do in helping the disadvantaged and disenfranchised people of Gorton. The centre is not just a place for a hot meal but somewhere to start rebuilding lives and a community where everyone belongs with love and respect.  (Ann-Marie Franey).


Dani’s shopping list

We asked our trainee Dani Cole to recommend a few local gifts from independent vendors.

I recently treated myself to a broadside of poet Seán Hewitt’s previously unpublished and richly evocative poem ‘Evening, With Ghost Moths’ from Fine Press Poetry in Rochdale, run by Andrew Moorhouse. “Little spectres – each body/a fitful apparition undoing its sign/on the dark”. It cost me £40 with additional £5 postage.

Form Lifestyle Store is based in the Northern Quarter and supports independent makers. If you know someone who has a penchant for collecting handcrafted ceramics (like this fabulous stoneware tumbler) or enjoys the odd pampering from time to time, then this is a good shout. Items can be ordered online and if you live locally you can collect in-store too. 

We’ve been following the good folks of Islington Mill for a while. A number of their residents are small businesses who are now taking orders for Christmas – see here. If you like coffee, you can order blends from Swan Song and if you or your nearest and dearests like punchy, vibrant and eclectic prints then The Neighbourhood Threat (don’t worry, not as sinister as it sounds) is a perfect choice. 

For the thirsty, the popular Lancashire Mead Company is taking online orders. (On a side note, I was delighted to discover the word “meadery”). Treat the craft beer enthusiasts in your life with some beverages from Beermoth in Northern Quarter, grab a Christmas gift bundle from Seven Bro7hers or a special release from Cloudwater.

And of course, the greatest local present in Greater Manchester this Christmas is a gift membership for The Mill. Give someone special a daily reminder of your generosity and good taste by getting them a membership now. You can even set it to arrive in their email inbox on Christmas Day. And if you buy one BY TOMORROW NIGHT we will send them a handwritten Christmas card welcoming them to The Mill. Just click the button below. To get the card, email their address and a personal message to joshi@manchestermill.co.uk.

Give a gift subscription

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