Back on Track gets the best birthday present ever

 

We are thrilled to be able to bring you some amazing news – a three year grant of almost half a million pounds! See our press release below for the details. This grant means we can build on the work we’ve been doing and will enable hundreds of people to build a better future. Huge thanks to the Big Lottery Fund in believing in us and supporting our work. 

 

Contact samuel@backontrackmanchester.org.uk for any queries.

 

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Press release

Thanks to players of the National Lottery a Manchester charity has received the best birthday present it would wish for. Back on Track, which is celebrating its 40
th anniversary in 2017, has just been awarded a whopping £478,615 of National Lottery funding – the largest grant in its history. The windfall will fund a three year project that will see Back on Track work hand in hand with local employers to support disadvantaged people into work. The project, Launchpad, will work with unemployed adults who have experienced major problems including homelessness, drug and alcohol problems and offending. Activities will include training courses, market trading, and roles in running Back on Track’s own catering enterprise.

Local employers are being signed up to run workshops and host work placements, and Back on Track will support them to create apprenticeships. Back on Track is already working with a range of businesses, from large employers such as Barclays to host of small local enterprises, and is now looking for new partners to get on board.

Back on Track Chief Executive Siobhan Pollitt says: ‘We believe everyone should have the chance to make a fresh start. Social problems like homelessness and substance misuse are very visible in Manchester at the moment, and people can feel like it’s impossible to find a way out. This project will be a life-changing opportunity. It’s been proved that finding work is the one of the best ways to make change last, and Launchpad will equip people with the skills, confidence and experience they need to move on to a bright future.’

Back on Track was founded in 1977 and moved to its current home in Ancoats in 1993. It now supports around a thousand people a year through education, training and volunteering. The charity was originally formed to support people with convictions, helping them put their pasts behind them. It now also works with people who have been through homelessness, substance misuse and long-term mental health problems.

If your company can help by lending expertise, providing volunteers or hosting a work placement please contact
samantha@backontrackmanchester.org.uk.

 

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Graphic design volunteer urgently needed

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and creative design volunteer to help us over the next couple of months. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and we need someone to help us design displays etc for our big event on 4th July. 

 

The short notice means we need someone to start as soon as possible! In return you’ll get some real experience with a well-regarded charity on your CV – and will work with a great bunch of people!   

 

We need a creative and enthusiastic person with excellent design and IT skills who will surprise and delight us with their ideas. If you fit the bill and would like to help us make this event fantastic please email samuel@backontrackmanchester.org.uk.   

 

Back on Track was named ‘best volunteer involving organisation’ at the 2016 Spirit of Manchester awards. 

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We’re looking for an enthusiastic and creative design volunteer to help us over the next couple of months. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and we need someone to help us design displays etc for our big event on 4th July. 

 

The short notice means we need someone to start as soon as possible! In return you’ll get some real experience with a well-regarded charity on your CV – and will work with a great bunch of people!   

 

We need a creative and enthusiastic person with excellent design and IT skills who will surprise and delight us with their ideas. If you fit the bill and would like to help us make this event fantastic please email samuel@backontrackmanchester.org.uk.   

 

Back on Track was named ‘best volunteer involving organisation’ at the 2016 Spirit of Manchester awards. 

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Back on Track team up with top Manchester poet

We’re excited to announce we’re teaming up with the brilliant Manchester poet Longfella for a brand new project! He’ll be working with a group of our service users, creating a unique new piece to be performed at our 40th anniversary event in July. It will be a chance for the group to draw on their life experiences, with most composing/performing poetry for the first time.

 

Longfella, whose real name is Tony Walsh, told us: ‘I’m really looking forward to this. Back on Track do really great work with disadvantaged adults and this will give them a voice.’ 

 

Longfella’s poetry makes you laugh, makes you cry and makes you think. This is a fantastic opportunity for our service users and we can’t wait to see what they come up together. 

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tony walsh poet

Moss Side Food Festival, Saturday 13 May

moss side food festival

Our Swan Kitchens cafe team have a stall at the Moss Side Food Festival this coming Saturday in Alexandra Park. There’s tons of other amazing sounding grub too, plus loads for all the family, so come down and check it out! 

New for 2017: The Back on Track Choir

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Amazing news. We’ve just been given a grant that means we can make a long-standing dream a reality – the Back on Track Choir is happening in 2017! 

 

The choir will see Back on Track service users, volunteers and staff singing together – doesn’t matter if you’ve never sung a note before, if you’re part of Back on Track, you’re in! Practices start on Tuesday 18th April, building up to a public performance to mark our 40 years celebration in July. Watch out for video updates because this is going to be a lot of fun.

 

Thanks so much to the Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund for the grant that is making this happen.

 

 

 

Kew Gardens comes to Harpurhey

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It was lovely to welcome Richard Pollard from Kew Gardens to our Harpurhey allotment last Friday. Last year we were delighted to get a grant from Kew’s Grow Wild fund, which helps people set up gardening projects and grow native plants and flowers. Richard came to see how we’d got on.

 

We used our grant to run sessions at our allotment and buy spades, wellies and waterproofs. Things are going well – we already have a nice little herb garden going and we’re about to plant veg to use in the cafe. We’re also creating a wildflower section using native seeds provided by Kew. Most importantly, though, the people who have taken part have really enjoyed and found that it has had a positive effect on their wellbeing. 

 

The allotment was overgrown and neglected when we took it on, and the volunteers have done a great job transforming it. And this is just the start for us – the project has been so popular that we’re going to make more outdoor activities available this year. In fact, we’ve already partnered with City of Trees to transform an area of woodland in Wythenshawe. Watch this space for updates!

allotment - richard visit

University of Manchester food market, Tuesday 14 March

Lemon and chia seed muffins
Beetroot brownies
Vimto cake with Vimto frosting
Carrot and courgette cake
Coconut and chocolate brownie
Lemon polenta cake (gluten free)
Chocolate avocado cake (vegan)
Mexican Chocolate brownies (gluten free)   

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levy market cakes

We have a stall tomorrow at Manchester University’s food market. The market is run by Levenshulme Market and is total foodie heaven, with an amazing line-up which includes our good friends Nila’s Burmese Kitchen and 4Lunch.   

 

Our stall will be staffed by our cafe volunteers and catering trainees – people who have been through major problems and are working to get the experience they need to rebuild their lives. As usual with Swan Kitchens all the money we make will be reinvested into our projects for disadvantaged people, which means that the more cake you eat, the more good you will have done. And if that doesn’t convince you then our menu surely will:

You can find the market on Bridgeford Street, which is off Oxford Road, by Manchester Museum. It runs from 11.30am to 2.30pm so if you’re anywhere near come on down and spoil yourself. Postcode is M15 6FH.

Urgent: foodies please get in touch!

Back on Track are looking for people with food skills to help run our catering social enterprise.

Since it launched just over a year ago the Swan Kitchens project has achieved an incredible amount.
The in-house cafe has sold thousands of low cost, healthy meals to people on low incomes, while the outside catering operation has fed 700 people. And it’s all staffed by people who are getting their lives back together after going through homelessness, addiction, offending and mental health problems. 

 

The cafe gives people the chance to get new skills and work experience, and more than a third of the volunteers have already moved into paid employment. And it’s ethical – the café uses salvaged and donated ingredients to reduce food waste, stocks Fairtrade products, and always has vegetarian and vegan options.

We now urgently need skilled volunteers to help us run the project.
Experience in catering and hospitality is preferred, but training will be provided. We need people who can offer at least one full day a week – you’ll be supporting people in the kitchen and helping to run the business side. We’re looking for people who want to use their skills, have fun and change the world a little bit at the same time! Sound like you? You can find out more at our special afternoon tea information session on Friday 10 March, from 1-3pm – cake will be served!

Or, if you can’t make that please email
rachel.gilkes@backontrackmanchester.org.uk

 

See the full volunteer role descriptions

 

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From homelessness to helping others: Sheena’s story

It’s hard to believe it now, but it was only just over two years ago that Sheena reached her lowest point. Her life had come apart and she found herself without a home. For a while she got by sofa surfing but one night she finally ran out of options – and ended up sleeping under a bench in Wythenshawe Park. “I was terrified,” she says. “Every little noise frightened me. I hardly slept at all. I was in a bad place – I was homeless but I couldn’t shake myself up to do something about it. I couldn’t see a way out.”

 

 

Sheena still remembers the exact day she got up the strength to take matters into her own hands. “It was the 27th December 2014. I finally went to the town hall to ask for helping finding accommodation. They told me to go to the Booth Centre – but I only had half an hour to get there and I didn’t know how to find it.”

At that moment the course of her life was changed by a simple act of kindness. She asked a couple – about to get in a taxi – for directions. 
“They put me in their taxi and took me straight to the Booth Centre. When I got there the staff found me somewhere to stay straight away. I wish I’d found out their names because I’d love to thank them for what they did. So I just want to say it now: whoever you are, thank you.”

 

Although she had now somewhere to live, things were still difficult for her. 

 

 

sheena

“The first place I was in was horrible to be honest. There were women fighting constantly all night, it was noisy, drugs were everywhere. I lived there for seven months. Then I moved to a women’s shared housing project, and that was better. It was much more peaceful there. And I got on really well with the Lesley, the manager. I still keep in touch.”

It was Lesley that told Sheena about Back on Track and how we might be able to help her. 
After visiting our centre Sheena signed up for several of our courses – she has kept all her certificates and brings them in to proudly show me. The biggest challenge, she says, was the Health and Social Care training course, which included a day a week at The Manchester College.

“It was tough! But it was good. I learned about working with people, not to be judgmental. I also made a lot of friends and I’m still in touch with them. Everyone really helped each other out. At first I was the quiet mouse in the corner. But I really came out of my shell. By the end they were all calling me the gobby one out of the group! I owe so much to Andy and the other staff at Back on Track.”

The training course was a turning point for Sheena. She realised she wanted to help other people who’d been through the same experiences as her. She’s now training to be a peer mentor with the Inspiring Change Manchester programme, which supports people with lived experience of offending, substance misuse, homelessness and mental health problems. In the long term she wants to find paid work supporting people.

“I do need to learn more about supporting offenders because I don’t have any lived experience in that area. I’m fine with all the other stuff, I’ve got plenty of experience with all of that. Been there, worn the t-shirt as they say!”

“It’s tough though,” she says. “So many jobs are zero hours. There aren’t many real jobs around these days. Even real work experience would help me because there’s nothing like learning by doing the real thing.”


How does my life compare to when I first came to Back on Track?
 There’s no comparison. I’ve come a million miles. I’ve even got a new flat of my own now. It’s in a lovely quiet area – I love it. I know there’s still a long way to go but the difference is now I believe that I’ll get there.”

 

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