Is Manchester going sober?
Mocktails, sober raves and the growing movement to live without booze
Dear Millers — it’s a Friday in Manchester. The bars and clubs are rolling barrels around their basements and methodically slicing open endless crates of alco-pops. Tens of thousands of revellers — hens, stags and large groups of men in exceptionally tight-fitting t-shirts — are about to descend on the city centre from all over the North for a very big sesh.
Manchester is known across the country for its nightlife and specifically, its heavy drinking. In his new book Manchester Unspun, Andy Spinoza writes about the fear among some people that this city’s recent renaissance is too closely tied to partying and boozing, a lifestyle that doesn’t appeal to everyone. So we were interested when our intern Kate Woodmass told us recently about a flourishing sobriety movement she had come across — particularly among younger people. What’s life without booze like in Manchester? Kate went to find out.
A huge thank you to all the wonderful people who came along to our third birthday celebrations on Tuesday evening. Julie Hesmondhalgh hosted the night and interviewed Mill founder Joshi about why he started The Mill and where we are going next. Then we all enjoyed a lively reader’s discussion about what and who Manchester’s culture should be for and whether we are funding the right things. It was such a fun evening, and big thanks to our friends at LowFour Studio in Deansgate Mews for hosting us — do get in touch with them if you need a venue for an event this summer.
A warm welcome to new Mill member Niall Power, who told Mollie at the bar that he came along to the event to decide if he’d subscribe as a paying member. Our incredible charm obviously paid off because later that evening, he tweeted: “I’m now paying for quality local journalism. A good idea that’s spreading!”
As always on a Thursday, this is a members-only edition, so if you’re not a member yet and you want to read the full story and join our members-only events, hit that pink button below. Every new member allows us to grow and expand into the high-quality media organisation Greater Manchester needs. It’s just £7 a month…
Your Mill briefing
Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the water at Salford Quays this week due to the heat. A rivers expert tweeted that he believed the deaths were due to sewage in the rivers, but United Utilities ruled this out, saying “no assets discharge directly into the Quays”. A spokesperson from the Environment Agency told the MEN that the fish died due to a “natural event caused by high temperatures and low atmospheric pressure as a result of thunderstorms, causing low dissolved oxygen levels”.
Some good news from Greater Manchester’s peatland bogs. One of the world’s rarest butterflies has successfully been reintroduced to the peatlands of Greater Manchester after a massive effort from conservation experts at Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Zoo and Natural England to restore its habitat, which was destroyed during the arrival of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830. The Manchester Argus, a large butterfly with brown and orange wings, is doing very well and scientists say they are “really optimistic about its future”.
Greater Manchester Police are donating over £5 million in cash seized from criminals to local charities to fund their activities over the next 12 months. Among the beneficiaries are Oldham Boxing Club, a place for ex-addicts to use the boxing facilities to stay mentally focused. Read our story about Oldham Boxing Club: Come to fight, stay to grow.
A local government ombudsman found that Bury Council caused “injustice” to an autistic child who missed out on a school for three years because the council couldn’t find a successful school placement. Child Q stopped attending school in the first year of secondary school, finding it difficult to leave the house unaccompanied. The council said its responses to the mother’s complaints “drifted” as a result of significant staff turnover in the special education team.
Our latest podcast episode is out, featuring Sam Lee and David Mooney from the Man City Fan podcast Let Me Talk, who discuss the treble victory, the club’s finances and its role in the city. Plus, Joshi and Darryl talk about the latest on HS2, homelessness and Dani Cole’s campaign to get Tony Doran a headstone. Listen wherever you get your podcasts by clicking here.
Sober in the city: What's it like to ditch drinking in Manchester?
By Kate Woodmass
Manchester is not a place synonymous with sobriety. Our famous nightlife — and various legendary music scenes over the years — have been fuelled by booze, and you need only visit Deansgate on a Friday night to observe the city’s relationship with alcohol: loud, messy, and unapologetic. Looking at the stats, it could be said that Manchester has an acute problem with drinking. According to a 2021 study, the rate of hospital admissions for alcohol-specific conditions is 53% higher in Greater Manchester than the average across England.
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