Rashford goes on the attack again

Plus: listen to 'Smear: Cartels and conspiracies in Oldham'

Dear Millers — we hope you enjoyed the weekend’s unexpectedly lovely weather.

On Saturday we published an insightful account of what life is like for a Gypsy family in Bolton, based on the experiences of one family who Mollie visited recently. Here’s a passage from the piece, in which Tommy Senior tells her about the prejudice he has experienced from some local people:

He senses that something has changed in the past ten years. He has noticed more locals averting their eyes when he meets them on the road. He’s been told to “Fuck off, you Gypsy bastard.” He thinks local press coverage has something to do with it. “Thirty years I socialised with them locals. And they’re good people but they end up looking down on you, because of all the carrying on of the newspapers and gossipers at the pub.”

Last week we published Dani’s dispatch from RHS Bridgewater, where she met cacti and succulent enthusiasts, and the fascinating story of Jack Kahane, publisher of literary classics and soft porn.

This week our members’ stories will include a profile of a popular Manchester weatherman; a report about life inside a much-maligned housing block in Salford; and a piece by Faith, a 15-year-old girl who recently came into the office to shadow Mollie for a day and who has written about how she plucked up the courage recently to send her mum a message on Instagram asking: “Who is my dad?”


This week’s weather⛅


Cartels and conspiracies

Listen in: Our long-form podcast Smear: Cartels and conspiracies in Oldham is now available to listen for free. We made the podcast together with Tortoise, and you can find it on Apple Podcasts here, on Spotify here or via Google Podcasts here.

  • Even if you don’t normally listen to podcasts, you can click any of those links and listen away on your computer or phone.

  • And there’s a great follow-up piece about the issues raised by our reporting by Xavier Greenwood, a reporter at Tortoise who worked with us on the podcast.


The big story: Rashford back on the attack

Top line: This morning, United forward Marcus Rashford trained his guns on the government again. He wants ministers to cancel the planned removal of the £20 a week “uplift” in Universal Credit payments and implement other proposals to tackle child hunger.

The numbers: Rashford highlighted new data from The Food Foundation, whose survey of 6,490 UK households found that 15% have experienced food insecurity in the past six months. That number is 27% higher than the group found before the pandemic. Rashford said:

You can fill 27 Wembley stadiums with the 2.5 million children that are struggling to know where their next meal might be coming from today. "What is it going to take for these children to be prioritised? Instead of removing support through social security, we should be focusing efforts on developing a sustainable long-term road map out of this child hunger pandemic."

The context: Rashford’s reference to social security is about the end of the Universal Credit uplift, introduced in April 2020 and scheduled to end in October.

  • “It’s just the wrong thing to do,” Andy Burnham told Sky News this morning. “Universal Credit needs to be kept at this uplifted rate and then we build from there to create a fairer long term solution.”

Policy push: Rashford is also supporting a proposal to expand eligibility for free schools meals to all children whose household earns less than £20,000, as well as to undocumented and immigrant children who have "no recourse to public funds".

The local picture: Many local leaders and councillors in Greater Manchester have supported Rashford’s food campaigning, including sharing his tweets and proposing to award him the Freedom of the City. And while Rashford pressures ministers in Westminster, Greater Manchester politicians need to square up to the vast problem of child poverty in their communities.

  • There are around 200,000 children are living in poverty in the city region according to numbers crunched by Greater Manchester Poverty Action. Poverty is defined as a household income of less than 60% of the national median.

  • Manchester itself has the highest proportion of children under 16 living in poverty of any of England’s eight “core” cities.

Zoom in: The areas with the most households at increased risk of experiencing food insecurity in GM are concentrated in the north — Oldham, Rochdale, Manchester and Bolton.

  • In Hapurhey South and Monsall, just under 40% of households were estimated to be at a higher risk of food insecurity, and it was even higher in a handful of areas in central Oldham. It’s between 25% and 35% in Rashford’s home of Wythenshawe, depending which area you focus on.

Our new series, The Northern Project, is focusing reporting on areas in the north of Greater Manchester that tend to receive less constructive media coverage. If you have ideas for the series or would like to show us around your area, please get in touch by replying to this newsletter or emailing editor@manchestermill.co.uk. Are your local councillors representing your area well? Do you feel local news coverage reflects what is really going on? Let us know.


Home of the week

This 2-bedroom penthouse apartment on Castle Quay is on the market for £475,000. It’s a warehouse conversion and features vaulted ceilings and a large private terrace.


Other local news in brief

  • Girls Aloud member Sarah Harding died aged 39 at the weekend. The singer, who moved to Stockport as a girl and used to visit her grandmother in Moston, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Former Spice Girl Geri Horner tweeted: "Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You'll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world." Read more.

  • Alfresco dining in Manchester is facing a dilemma as autumn approaches. 350 pavement licenses have been granted by the council, and some road closures, such as Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter will be permanent. However, Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, told The Guardian that “These schemes were vital to the businesses who were trying to trade during the pandemic” but because of Manchester’s weather, “a move for permanent outdoor trading would be difficult to implement year round.” Read more.

  • On Sunday, 1000 people commemorated the 125th anniversary of the Battle for Winter Hill. In 1896, the Bolton community staged what remains the country’s biggest rights of way dispute, after Colonel Ainsworth closed public access to Winter Hill. Speaking at the event at the weekend, Mayor of Bolton Cllr Linda Thomas said: “Bolton people have a great sense of justice.” Read more, and read our story about the original battle here.


Grist to The Mill: If you want to tell us about a story or pass us some information, please email joshi@manchestermill.co.uk, mollie@manchestermill.co.uk or dani@manchestermill.co.uk. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.


Racing magnate’s collection up for auction

The private collection of Selwyn Demmy (1932-2020) will be up for auction in October. Included among the 20 works is Manchester artist Arthur Delaney (1927-1987) who worked in a textile studio for 32 years, and who painted as a means of relaxation. He was inspired by LS Lowry.


Covid-19 update

  • Case rates: The case rate for Greater Manchester is 309.2, down 3% compared to England’s 312.3, down 1.7%.Tameside has the highest infection rates in GM, around the 400-mark. Bolton has the lowest, about 200.

  • Hospitalisations: The number of Covid-19 patients in critical care is 62, up very slightly from 60 the week before. The total number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals minus critical care is 347, up from 340 on the previous week. We are averaging six Covid-19 deaths per day in GM hospitals at the moment.

  • Vaccinations: As of 30th August, almost 1.7 million people have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. 92% of over-70s have had two doses, compared to 86% of 50-69s, and 56% of 18-49s. That’s 69% of all adults in GM double-jabbed.


Things to do

Theatre | Award-winning comedy ‘Home, I’m Darling’ is showing at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. Johnny and Judy seem to be a perfect couple, living in marital bliss — but “the perfection of a 1950s domestic goddess is difficult to live up to in a 21st century world.” More information and tickets here.

Life drawing | Tomorrow is the last session of People and Plants, a garden life drawing class held at Platt Fields Market Garden in Fallowfield. The session will be held by a resident illustrator and local artist. Book here.

Exhibition | ‘New Drawings of Manchester and Salford’ by Neil Dimelow is showing at Phil Griffin’s Pop Up Gallery in the Northern Quarter this Friday. The drawings have been inspired by the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich. Book tickets here.

Market | The bi-weekly Ancoats pop-up market will be at Cutting Room Square this week. The market hosts Manchester-based coffee roasters, locally brewed liquors and various other stallholders, ranging from craftspeople to bakers. More info here.

Festival | On Saturday, MACFEST21 will be holding the Arab Heritage Festival, an afternoon of “enchantment and enjoyment.” Expect plenty of arts and culture, including Arabic poetry, a talk about Islamic tiling, Palestinian embroidery, and music. It’s online. Book tickets here.

Exhibition | The Modernist Society is showing ‘Loitering with Intent’, an exhibition featuring the work of Sheffield-based painter and printmaker Mandy Payne and poet Helen Angell. This one’s for brutalism fans, make sure not to miss out. More information here.


Photo of the week

Of journeys yet to be taken: The international departure lounge at Manchester Ringway Airport in 1954. Photo by Mirrorpix/Getty Images.


Our favourite reads

We enjoyed this piece from Vittles by Huw Lemmey, who takes a nostalgic and critical look at the English food store. “When my grandfather retrained as a baker in post-war Manchester, he learnt not the art, but the science, of baking: how to produce the most nutritional loaf with the least waste possible. He produced hundreds of absolutely identical 1lb brown loaves, custard pies and Eccles cakes on a weekly basis for the rest of his life, four loaves delivered weekly in freezer bags to my mum each Sunday.”

This piece in the MEN tells the story of when King Amanullah of Afghanistan visited Manchester as part of a tour of Europe in 1928. He was particularly taken by the Manchester Ship Canal: “After disembarking at Pomona Docks, through an interpreter he described the canal as a 'marvellous and wonderful enterprise' adding: ‘I cannot find words to express my amazement at its magnitude.’"

We thought this ESPN FC profile of Jose Mourinho was great. It’s a good look back at when things were less, well, exciting for Manchester United. The team was on a string of humiliating losses, a cloud of social media storms followed their every move, and their manager was still living in the Lowry Hotel: "Mourinho strides through the hotel's lobby. It is quiet. No family. No best friend. A team that can't win enough."

This 2014 piece in the Financial Times looked at communities in Higher Blackley after they were featured in George Soros's Open Society Foundation research into Europe's white working class. The research was set to “change our understanding of this class,” writes Simon Kuper, the newspaper’s columnist. “In Higher Blackley, community can provide a roof, a loan, or updates on job vacancies. But it also provides happiness.”


Book of the week: Hollow in the Land by James Clarke

Hollow in the Land takes you into the world of the eccentric characters in Rossendale Valley, with gloomy weather, friendships at the paper mill, social isolation and misadventure. It’s by Manchester-based writer James Clarke, who grew up in Blackburn and offers a brooding and touching account of rural northern life. 

Hollow in the Land is available to buy here.


Letters to the editor

This is a welcome article (‘I went to visit the Gypsies of Bolton’) and one that is objective in its portrayal of the lives of the gypsies living in Bolton. Distrust of gypsies seems to be very deep-rooted and most of it based on hearsay rather than direct experience. No doubt, gypsies have their bad'uns in their community, just as we have in ours — yet somehow they are expected to be angelic and even then they still won't be accepted. Elaine, Bury

In last week’s Mill briefing (‘Smears and conspiracy theories in Oldham’) you reported on the ejection of a member of the LGB Alliance from the 'Pride is a Protest' event. I was standing less than ten metres from the incident, and Bramham's statements of perceived threats of violence are blown way out of proportion. What this article, and many others commenting on the event, failed to note is that the LGB Alliance is trans-exclusionary and transphobic by its very nature. “Pride is a Protest” is a return to the origins of Pride, which means a march (not a parade) commemorating the community-led violent uprising in response to the police violently targeting LGBT people. If what the LGB Alliance is asking for is a separate space for LGB people excluding the trans community, Pride is not that place. Patrick, Manchester


That’s it — you’re all caught up