What’s at Fusion for you?

Over the last two years, I’ve been supporting a number of community groups and resident associations in the Tonge area to turn an empty building into a fantastic hub for all aspects of the local community. It’s called the Fusion Centre, located in Connaught Square off Eldon St.

Empty building

Fusion Centre before


Fusion Centre after renovation

Fusion Centre after

The ‘after’ picture shows Tonge with Haulgh Community Choir performing Christmas songs outside Fusion and they’ll be back to sing “Let It Go” at the launch of Fusion’s Saturday morning Cinema Club. The song is from Frozen of course and this is the premier film, tomorrow (28 March), 10am – 1pm. A        child ticket is £2, including a goody bag and refreshments. Please book your places with the team at Fusion to avoid missing out.

The event will also see the unveiling of a new milk bar and internet café for young people. ‘The Cow Shed’ will be an American style diner area for school children to use after school for homework, socialising and chilling. Continue reading

“I blog to be listened to”

“Want cats’ milk in your tea?” MJ asks me in her distinctively southern accent. We burst out laughing.

Luckily she mean’s the lactose free variety in the fridge and not ladled from Pickle’s bowl.

Each armed with a cuppa, notepad and pen, we take to the settee draped with paw print covers.

I’m in MJ’s home to offer my help with a community newsletter that she’s volunteered to write. Only, I’m more fascinated by the writer herself. I’ve read her blog, MJ’s World. She says it’s her way to express what it’s like to live alone with clinical depression, fibromyalgia and other illnesses.

Somewhat selfishly, and blaming the lure of her blog, I want to know more. I’m awash with questions. Why publish your life? Was there a trigger for your illnesses? Continue reading

“At the end of the day, we live here don’t we? It’s our community.”

It’s Wednesday, it’s ten to one and it’s a beautiful day. I’ve arranged a litter pick for one o clock at Breightmet UCAN centre and so far no-one has showed up. The weather’s on our side though so I’m remaining positive. It’s the second litter pick I’ve arranged in this neighbourhood and the first one was a huge success; seven residents and four staff members collected 11 bags of rubbish. I’m hoping to start a regular litter picking group and the first litter pick encouraged me that this is something residents do want to get involved in.

Litter pick pictures outside Breightmet UCAN

Picture: 11 bags of rubbish collected in an hour…

Alan is the first to arrive and he’s raring to go.  He asks where everyone else is and I tell him “Let’s remain patient” and that hopefully others will arrive soon. While we wait, we don our hi-vis jackets emblazoned with the logo; ‘Breightmet is Beautiful,’ and we get our litter pickers and bags from the shed. We wait outside the UCAN and just after one, Cath arrives. She is out of breath and a bit flustered. She’s very apologetic about being late and has been dropping off her kids. She joins us in a hi-vis jacket and we’re ready to go. Continue reading

Culture clash

When you use opposing approaches to do a job, at some point there’s a clash. And now I’m left dealing with the impact that’s going to have on our customers. Community development is a long term approach. It’s not a quick fix; it’s building relationships at a pace people are comfortable with and creating lasting change on our estates.

Man with thumbs up standing in gardenMy contracts have ranged from six to 12 months adding up to just short of three years. So I’ve built the relationships and some seeds have grown. Sadly now it’s the end. A permanent job elsewhere came up and despite my love and passion for this work it would be silly to pass that up for two more months.

So what’s going to happen to all those groups, individuals and activities I support? We’re all working above capacity and I’ve no-one to hand over to.  So all of those people I led to believe we were in it for the long haul; what are they going to do? Continue reading

I’m not bothered because it doesn’t affect me

Housing: Why it’s not on the agenda

What is a house? For me a house is more than bricks and mortar, it’s your home, your roots, your common unity with other people (community) the place that gives you security and a base to enable you to achieve all the aspirations you have in life. Living without a decent home and security directly impacts on all aspects of your life.

Grant Shapps

When Grant Shapps, the disgraced Conservative party chairman, tried to justify the hated bedroom tax at the Homes for Britain rally on Tuesday I could not help the feelings of anger that raged inside me as he walked off stage with a smug grin on his face. Continue reading