Infinity Initiatives are going the extra mile to ensure the most vulnerable in our community can celebrate a festive season that they might otherwise miss out on.
The service, which won the Health and Social Care accolade at the Pride of Tameside Business Awards, provides an advocacy and support service for anyone who needs it without long waiting lists or users having to fulfil certain criteria.
They cover multiple needs such as substance misuse, poverty, crime and housing with a number of projects including a Pay What You Can Café and drop-in sessions.
The team have been busy over the festive season, holding two “Children’s Afternoon Teas with Santa”, numerous gift stalls and extending their opening hours between Christmas and New Year.
But Infinity Initiatives are not stopping there, with everyone welcome to attend their “Come to Ours” event running from 5pm on New Year’s Eve right through to the afternoon of New Year’s Day for a “home from home” experience.
Jane Allighan, who is placement psychotherapist at the business, says that the team decided to take action after hearing so many stories of people dreading the Christmas period.
She said: “Christmas and New Year are traditionally seen as a time for celebration, happiness and company – but sadly we know this isn’t the case for everybody.
“We realised that ethically, we couldn’t just close our centre and go home knowing our communities need us more than ever.”
The 24-hour support-initiative is styled to feel like users are coming round to a friend’s house to enjoy the celebrations, with support workers, volunteers and trained listening staff available to help and signpost those who need it.
There will also be people to speak to online or on the telephone, quiet rooms and a separate cosy ‘lounge’ where guests can watch TV, read, play games or just unwind.
But as transport is notoriously expensive and difficult to get hold of on NYE, the Initiative is appealing for to help get those in need to and from their event.
Jane said: “We don’t want anyone to miss the event because they simply can’t afford to get to us or can’t get home afterwards.
“Similarly, if somebody wants to come but if being with people for too long doesn’t suit them psychologically or otherwise, we don’t want them to think they can’t come for fear of being stuck.”
Their “Infinity Dream Wish” is to offer a free service on the night from a local taxi firm who could donate a nominated driver to be there for the duration of the event, or to be able to call taxi’s from them for people free of charge as and when they are needed.
In his latest montly column, the Environment Agency’s Lee Rawlinson focuses on how you can stay safe when flooding hits…
“In times of crisis, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” These are words that have resonated with me this week as the Environment Agency prepares to launch its latest campaign designed to keep people safe from flooding.
The Flood Action Campaign is one of particular significance to me, both in my professional and my personal life. This is especially notable when I think back to Boxing Day 2015 when many of the communities I serve across Greater Manchester, as part of the Environment Agency team, were devastated by some of the worst flooding in living memory brought on by Storm Eva. In the weeks and months that followed, I saw first-hand the critical role that individuals can play, both in dealing with the immediate aftermath and in building resilience for the future.
Those floods also confirmed something I’ve said many times: a flood alleviation scheme will certainly offer protection and is one of our best resources for keeping our communities safe from the threat of flooding BUT no matter the size or strength of the defence, it can only reduce the risk and doesn’t take it away completely.
Trying to outwit Mother Nature is no easy task and is one that can’t be tackled with manmade structures alone. Because of that fact, I’ve become a passionate advocate for promoting flood resilience – since being flooded is not the worst part; it is the recovery from them that is the real challenge. In England alone, there are 5.2 million homes at risk of flooding, and young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most at risk. They are least likely to know how to protect their property or where to go for information but they are most likely to risk their lives, and most at risk of dying, during a flood.
If like me, you fall just outside that age bracket, you might be thinking that flood resilience isn’t actually something you need to take much notice of, that it is something that clearly affects the younger generation, but floods themselves do not discriminate, they destroy and they kill.
Regardless of your age, on top of all the other ‘stuff’ going on in our lives, being flooded can often break people. Research from Public Health England has shown that the mental health impacts of flooding can last for two years or more with depression, anxiety and PTSD affecting up to a third of people who have been flooded.
That is why being aware, having a plan and taking precautions to reduce our own flood risk is half the battle and that is what I am encouraging you to do through our Flood Action Campaign. One of my mottos is to make tasks simple but effective and luckily, our teams working behind the scenes on the campaign have followed the same ideal.
The ask for you is straightforward, simply visit the ‘what to do in a flood’ page on GOV.UK, check if your home is at risk, sign up for warnings and see our ‘Prepare. Act. Survive.’ flood plan. It takes just a few minutes to check if you are at risk but can save you months or years of misery.
You can even download our ready-made plan, go over it with your family, save it, and share it on social media to encourage others to do the same. We’re making it as simple as possible so it’s less likely the task gets put off for a rainy day, so to speak.
Speaking of social media, if you are feeling particularly tech-savvy and want to add your voice to the Flood Action Campaign to help us spread the word, you can get involved and #JustOneThing, which is the theme of this year’s campaign across social media.
All you have to do is record a video or take a photograph with the one thing you would save in a flood and tell us why. Add text to ask your friends/followers what they would save and encourage them to share their own ‘must save’ item to keep the momentum going. Don’t forget to tag us in @EnvAgencyNW and link through to the ‘what to do in a flood’ page on GOV.UK as this is a key part of helping people to know what to do in a flood and keeping them safe.
The truth is, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be flood aware and if there are just three words that you take away from the Flood Action Campaign, or indeed this month’s column, please make them: Prepare. Act. Survive. They are the keys to averting the crisis and making you extraordinary at protecting your family and your property while potentially saving your life.
Lee Rawlinson is the Area Director for the Environment Agency’s Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire region. You can get more information about the work of the Environment Agency or what’s going on in your area by following us on Twitter @EnvAgencyNW.
Soroptimists International Ashton-Under-Lyne have pledged to help end period poverty for girls in Tameside schools.
They’ve teamed up with The Red Box Project who provide sanitary products to ensure that no young person misses school due to their period.
The scheme was set up in March 2017 by three friends who wanted to make sure young people in their local area had access to sanitary products. The movement has now spread nationwide with schools, businesses and organisations all doing their bit to help end period poverty.
The Soroptimists have joined forces with the cause, with members of the organisation donating sanitary products and local schools taking on the boxes.
Bet Bennett, Tameside co-ordinator for the project, came to collect the products and share stories that she’d heard of girls having to stay off school because of period poverty, or going without lunch to spend the money on sanitary products when their parents cant afford to buy the products.
The products will now be distributed as and when needed in Tameside schools.
All of Tameside’s children’s homes are now rated as good or outstanding after the latest round of OFSTED reports.
Inspectors from the regulatory body recently visited two homes in Denton and Hyde. The home in Hyde was rated as outstanding and was praised on how staff and young people form an excellent relationship. The inspector observed a “genuine display of warmth, affection and care” between the staff and young people. A young person told them: “The staff are great. They really do care, and this helps me because I know everything will be alright”
Meanwhile the Denton home was rated as good and was also recognised for the bond between young people and staff. Inspectors said young people build “positive and trusting relationships with staff” while one young person told them: “I get on really well with the staff here. They are funny and help me a lot.”
Tameside Council Executive Member for Children & Families Councillor Oliver Ryan said: “These further fantastic results demonstrate our drive and commitment to achieve for our children.
“All of our homes are continuing to build on their strengths to ensure their exceptional work continues to support children to be happy and achieve their very best. Well done to all our excellent staff, who I know are totally committed to providing the outstanding care for our children. I’m pleased to see the inspectors recognised their dedication and experience.”
Visitors to Clarendon Square shopping centre in Hyde had an ‘un-bear-lievable’ surprise as they went about their Christmas shopping last weekend.
Bjorn the Polar Bear paid a visit from his home at the North Pole to spread some festive cheer amongst families and posed for photos with the children.
‘Bjorn’ is a life-size animatronic polar bear capable of lifelike movements including blinking eyes and a sniffing nose.
In addition to Bjorn and his handler, there was also Christmas crafts and activities throughout the centre, with indoor and outdoor markets on offer.
Sophie Stephenson, centre manager at Clarendon Square Shopping Centre, said the excitement for Christmas is snowballing and the activity added to the merriment: “The festive season is finally here, and it was wonderful seeing families getting into the spirit at our Bjorn the Bear event.
“Our animal friend brought some wonderland magic to Hyde, with plenty of other fun keeping everyone thoroughly entertained during their Christmas preparations at the centre.
Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre has been out and about in Dukinfield to give local people a starring-role in a short film that will be played at a special festive community event next week.
It marks the beginning of a two year project called the “Local Exchange” that aims to reach people who may not otherwise feel that theatre is for them, with the Royal Exchange partnering up with Jigsaw Homes.
The film, that’s based around the Queen’s annual Christmas Speech, asked members of the public what they are looking forward to in the New Year and what has happened to them since last Christmas.
Jack Bamber, engagement manager at the Royal Exchange Theatre, said himself and colleagues went into the community earlier this year armed with microphones and a green screen to capture people’s heartfelt thoughts.
He said: “We got so many responses – some were very emotional, from people who had lost parents this year or had a really rough time.
But we also had incredibly positive ones! We had a number of really funny speeches from Age UK and primary schools in the area – plus a lovely story from someone who was homeless and has now found their feet.”
Both video and audio has now been compiled into a film which will be premiered at Dukinfield Methodist Church on the 18th of December, during an event running from 5-8pm.
Alongside the film, there will also be craft tables, monologues performed by young company graduates and traditional carol music from Spotlights Choir.
Jack added: “This is just the beginning of our work in Tameside and we really would just like to invite anyone who would like to attend and find out more about what we do.
“Everyone is welcome to come and get festive – we’ve got a lot planned and it’s going to be a very special upcoming two years. “
Tameside Netball Club is celebrating after its U12s won the England Sports UK tournament at the Manchester Velodrome on Saturday.
Coached by Lauren Palmer, the girls had a memorable day on court and were crowned champions after beating Leeds Athletic, Trafford, Leeds B and Knutsford.
Ella Whitman was named Player of the Tournament for her efforts on court.
The girls have been rewarded with 11 tickets to England v New Zealand, and a place at the national finals in March.
Following the win, Lauren took to Twitter and praised her players.
She said: “Very proud of these girls. Northern Champions of @EngSportsUK1 Cup. Stuck to task and put out some very impressive performances. Well done girls, great competition and we look forward to the National finals in March.”
Elsewhere, the U14s beat Cheshire Stars 33-22 in the Regional League, while the U16s beat NW Panthers 43-16 in their respective division.
On Sunday, the Premier One squad made the long trip to Worcester Reds in a bid to move up the table.
A hard-fought performance was rewarded with a 52-40 victory.
Beccy Hoult and Ally Thomas were named as the Players of the Match.
Victory leaves Tameside in fifth spot and 17 points below leaders Oldham, who maintained their season-long unbeaten run with a 66-45 win at Academy.
For the first time this season the weather took a substantial bite into the busy programme, with heavy rain prior to and on match day taking its toll on fixtures.
The top match of the day saw Premier Division leaders Rochdalians looking to make progress in the Lancashire Amateur Cup, where they have had some terrific results this season, as they hosted Winstanley St Aidans.
But it was not to be, as Rochdalians had a rare blank scoring sheet losing out 2-0.
Their game in the cup gave the chasing pack a chance to reduce Rochdalians’ big lead in the Premier Division and two in-form teams took advantage of the opportunity
Whalley Range hosted Old Ashtonians who had to play the entire game with ten men, but still gave a good account of themselves before going down 6-3.
Tim Kinsella was the main man for Range as he hit four to take them into a 4-1 lead early in the second half.
But Ashtonians showed great fighting spirit, inspired by the returning Jamie Moran and keeper Miroslav Uryga, who had a magnificent penalty save among many other great stops.
Ashtonians got back to make it 5-3 after Danny Heffernan had extended the Range lead with Asa Hallsworth (two) and Sean Weston netting to leave Range rocking, but a late strike from sub Owen Traynor sealed victory for Range.
Salford Vics stay in third spot, a point behind Range, as they toppled high-flying Milton 3-1 to keep up their recent great run of victories.
The other game in the division saw Abacus Media and Mellor share eight goals with the hard-earned point taking Mellor into mid-table safety.
With Division One leaders Dom Doyle having their game postponed, it gave close rivals Parrs Wood Celtic and Chorltonians the opportunity to reduce their lead as they faced each other in a local derby.
Celtic maintained their fine run of form as they cruised to a 4-1 win with the Chorlts consolation coming from Aaron Rodger to move them ahead of Chorlts and one point adrift of Dom Doyle.
The other games saw Irlam Tigers win 3-0 at AFC Oldham, while Oldham Vics kept up their recent revival with a close 3-2 win at Stoconians.
The top three teams in Division Two were all without games and Urmston Town had the biggest win by 6-0 at Santos.
The other two games were close contests with South Manchester seconds having Josh Harper (two) and Azuka Ututu seeing them come back from twice being behind to win their local derby with Bedians by 3-2. Milton seconds and Rochdalians seconds were also in a thriller, with Milton edging a 4-3 victory
Division Three saw five games played and a flood of goals.
Leaders Dukinfield Athletic led the way with a 9-2 win over Salford Vics seconds to increase their lead to four points over Signol Athletic who lost 4-3 in a thrilling local derby at Mellor thirds.
Radclyffe have plenty of games in hand on the leading pack and they showed their intent on getting into the mix with an emphatic 7-0 win over Abacus Media seconds.
The goal rush continued in the other games with wins for Milton seconds by 5-2 over Heaton Mersey and Stoconians seconds accounted for Village Manchester by 6-2.
It’s tight in Division A with three teams level on 21 points at the top of the table
Elton Lib Hargreaves had a convincing 5-1 win at Rochdale Galaxy to move ahead of non-playing Chadderton Cott and Galaxy on goal difference.
Flixton also went nap in a 5-1 win over Dukinfield Athletic seconds, while Signol Athletic seconds shared four goals with Moston Brook seconds.
There were just two games in Division B and leaders AFC Stockport were taken all the way by Chorltonians Athletic before winning 5-4.
On target for Athletic were Tony Hardy (three) and the legendary Matty Kulik.
Old Stretfordians seconds had few problems as they cruised to a 7-0 win at Moston Brook thirds.
In Division C Govan Athletic closed the gap on non-playing leaders Deans to five points as they won 6-2 at Moston Brook fourths.
Chorltonians Albion were also on fire with a 7-0 win over Stoconians fourths.
The win was set up by a stunning opening goal from Conor Carlin, followed by Kurtis Wallace (three), Courtney Wallace, Oscar Lynch and Saad Abdullah to take Albion into seventh heaven.
Whalley Range thirds also had their shooting boots on as they beat Bury Ams thirds 5-2 in an enjoyable encounter.
Danny Mellor (two), John Murphy (two) and Danny Millar netted for Range with Will Greene and Greg Speight replying for Bury.
The other game saw Hollingworth seconds keep in touch with the promotion pack as they won 3-1 at Irlam Tigers seconds.