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Withington Golf Club and Back on Track enjoy a record breaking year

A year ago we were thrilled when we found out that we’d been chosen by Withington Golf Club as their charity of the year.

This week we found out that they raised almost £9,000 for us over the year. Phenomenal! We’ve had great fun at lots of their events in 2018, including a successful attempt to break the record for the fastest ever round of golf. The amount they raised also our breaks our own record for the most in a year.

Siobhan, our CEO (left) is pictured with Martin, the Captain, and Carol, the Lady Captain. Huge thanks to them both and to everyone at the club who donated.

Whichever charity is chosen as their next charity of the year is very lucky indeed.

Come Dine With Mike!

Our patron Mike Joyce loves his allotment. We have a cafe in our centre where people facing disadvantage learn new skills for life and work. So Mike thought: why not bring them together? 

On Friday he brought in a collection of home grown veg and worked with our Swan Kitchens team to make lunch for everyone. The whole thing was captured by Granada TV – and as you’ll see everyone had a brilliant time. See the report here: 

Sleeping out

Our trustee Mark took part in the CEO Sleepout event to raise awareness of homelessness in Manchester, along with our CEO Siobhan and two other trustees. Here he blogs about the experience of giving up his bed for the night.

The evening started with everyone in great spirits about the event. In total, there were about 80 fundraisers from around the Manchester area all supporting various Manchester homeless charities. There were guest speakers who all brought to life the purpose of their charities and helped to explain exactly what benefits the money raised would do for their represented causes. Our nominated charity (Back on Track) was represented by the wonderful CEO Siobhan Pollitt who spoke passionately and informatively about the support and training they provide to people from a disadvantaged position in life, whether that be homelessness suffering from a mental health issue, in a period of recovery following substance or alcohol abuse or other disadvantages.

We then heard testimonials from 4 individuals who had suffered homelessness – this is when reality kicked in. I know that we all think we understand the reasons why people become homeless and sadly, there is a tendency to blame alcohol and drug abuse, but actually listening to the harrowing stories from these 4 amazing individuals really gave insight into how everyday events and a run of bad luck can have a knock-on effect eventually leading to homelessness in some cases. Not only that but we also heard from 1 individual about how her gender re-assignment led to a massive amount of prejudice and discrimination which forced her into a life of prostitution, drug abuse and homelessness. It wasn’t a pretty way to end the speeches but it certainly brought to the front of mind exactly why we were doing this and what difference our efforts would make to the supporting charities.

On to the stands then – fortunately for us it was relatively mild and dry. Me and my teammates found a cosy-ish looking area in the stands and laid out our comfortable sleeping mats and triple insulated sleeping bags – I did wonder at this point whilst I was laying out my expensive camping gear, how on earth I would feel if I was looking for somewhere to bed down for the evening with nothing more to keep me warm than the clothes I was stood up in. I felt an immediate rush of guilt and felt determined to do the best I could going forward to help and raise the profile of this plight.

I had the foresight to make hot chocolate and decant it into vacuum flasks before I left the house that night and we settled down with our books and hot drinks before trying to get some sleep. Unbelievably I slept decently but was still full of aches and pains on waking from having slept on concrete and my concentration and ability to keep awake the day after was severely impacted. I then had a realisation – how do people who have to suffer this every night cope? I am often angered when I hear people criticise how awful it was that they had to walk around or step over a homeless person asleep on the street but having insight into why they’re unable to keep awake in the daytime brings it into stark perspective – how would you cope if you had spent all night in the freezing wet conditions of your typical Manchester night whilst trying to fend off people harassing you or trying to steal your few meagre possessions?

Overall, the experience was truly worthwhile and it’s something that I’ll certainly be doing again soon – I think everyone should do it at least once until we can at the very least have empathy with what homeless people suffer on a daily basis. On to the great news now after all that – between myself and the 3 other trustees at Back on Track, we managed to raise a whopping £8,160 for our chosen charity! This is enough to fund a training programme at Back on Track’s learning centre in Manchester and will definitely go some way to making sure that the charity can keep its doors open for another year.

Mark Stapleton

Talking is important!

“Talking is important!” says Kate Hardy, our Wellbeing Coordinator. “Not just on World Mental Health Day – at Back on Track we provide a wide range of courses to help people build their skills and confidence, but it also helps to provide people with a safe environment where people can build coping strategies when life isn’t going so well and feel like they can talk to someone if they are struggling”.

Kate is currently running a weekly session called ‘Having a Voice’, where people can develop their communication skills and increase their confidence to speak out about things that are important to them. It’s part of a year round programme of activities that help people to improve their wellbeing, as Kate expalins;

“We try and incorporate the 5 Ways to Wellbeing into our work; Connect, Take Notice, Give, Keep Learning and Be Active; from volunteering, learning a new skill, trying mindfulness, or visiting a local tourist attraction – sometimes simple things can help when things get too overwhelming”.

Wellbeing display at Back on Track

This isn’t just Kates advice. Talking about your feelings is also the number 1 piece of advice on looking after your mental health according to The Mental Health Foundation website, where you can find loads more advice about achieving and maintaining good mental health. It’s worth a look anytime, not just on World Mental Health day.

John’s making changes about homelessness.

“Word of Mouth” is a brilliant concept. Thanks to Kate Hardy I joined a homelessness steering committee now called ‘Vox Pop’ and one of its leaders gave me the info about the Museum of Homelessness Catalyst Project.

What is it? Well, basically, people with homeless experience, and an interest in art have a chance to exhibit their art, challenge the pre-conceptions about homelessness, and try to change the way people perceive homelessness.

I attended a meet and greet in London and was accepted for phase 1 of the project. This consists of attending an 8 day course in London and receiving tuition and support on our art projects.

We received talks from 10 guest speakers and learned about protest (passive and activist), the history of homelessness, and the visit to the museum of London’s Suffragette exhibition was fascinating.

The journalism speaker supports our up-coming pitches, greatly helping to polish the project pitch.

Charlie Craggs talk inspired passive protest & using our talents; a truly amazing person.

Here’s a photo of me with my certificate for completing phase 1;

 

and some photos of the art I’ve created for the project – using whats gone before to make changes;

So now I wait for news as to if I’m on phase 2 – will find out 1st week in November – watch this space!

 

P.S. In between, I’m involved in ‘Objectified’ – an event at Manchester Art Gallery. Please attend if you can.

 

Stop Press!

I’m invited to a MOH representation dinner at the House of Lords in January!

And today 3/10/18 I’ve been told I’ve been nominated as volunteer of the year in the Be Proud Manchester awards for my volunteering work at Manchester International Festival and the National Football Museum.

I can honestly say I just try to turn negativity to positivity, bad to good, and I want to inspire others to achieve at back on track.

 

John Priestley