I’ve actually been to Manchester on 3 occasions now since my 40th birthday last June, but this particular trip in March has enabled me to see more of the city. I’ve made the trips through my work with Tearfund. We’ve been running a pilot project to bring together a group of campaigners and activists into a learning and action initiative called the ‘ACT Community’. We’ve been exploring the practice of community organising and these 3 weekend’s of learning and reflection have aimed to support and equip people in their community based action. In addition to the weekend gathering’s we have offered support in mentoring and regular calls and a Facebook group. It’s been a really encouraging experience.
One of the people I’ve mentored on the journey has engaged their church in Eco Church and even hosted their local MP at a public meeting on climate change. Another has pursued their acting profession which has led recently to role in a production based on the themes of climate change. And another person has been working with their church to reimagine how they engage with global mission and issues of poverty.
We’ve been based each time at the wonderful Luther King House, which is located in South Manchester, very close to the delightful Rusholme (The home of the curry mile, which we have sampled on 2/3 of the visits). It’s a great venue with superb food, good rooms at good value, a beautiful chapel space for our main sessions, great gardens and surroundings and a really nice atmosphere. The venue has a great lounge as well and a bar for relaxing conversations and time out in the evenings.
This particular journey had the added bonus of arriving early (even with a 2 hour train delay) and being able to visit The People’s History Museum. It is a wonderful idea, a really beautiful, very cool and simply fabulous building/space with a great mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions exploring the history of society, politics and change. The artefacts are amazing and exhibitions are really well put together. There is a lot to see and encounter, and its also well worth taking the time to also sit in the cafe and enjoy the views and the atmosphere.
There was a new exhibition being put up, which we got a sneak peak of, on the New Labour era, with lots of great images, artefacts, quotes and memories from the post 1992 election defeat and the journey of New Labour and Tony Blair coming to power. It was the first general election I could vote in, and I was living in Manchester at the time, working for Oxfam, where our overall Area director was massively involved in The Labour Party locally, and how he celebrated such a sweet victory.
It was also beautifully sunny on this day of the visit and it was great wandering and riding in Buses and later a Taxi around the City on the way to Luther King House. St Peter’s Square and the central library, Deansgate, Albert Square, and other places around the city all looked stunning in the bright spring sunshine. It also brought back lots of fond memories from living in Manchester 20 years ago, half my lifetime ago now!
I’ve really enjoyed travelling a lot more on trains this year, and this journey provided that opportunity yet again, with the added bonus of great company in the form of a friend and colleague. I also got to read, relax, listen to good music and enjoy the beautiful views and countryside, without the need for driving.
Manchester is a wonderful City, and although on this visit and indeed on each of my journey’s this past year, I’ve only seen just a small part of it, I am really thankful I have had the chance.
My next scheduled journey to Manchester is not until July, so after this whole year of 40 ways to celebrate being 40 ends, and I will be the grand old age of 41. However, it will be a bit of a special one as a good friend and I are going to see Radiohead at The Manchester Arena. Bring it on!