Local News n Views

Books have feelings too

As a self-confessed bookworm and stationery addict I’m always on the look out for unusual and quirky ‘bookish things’, collecting them as some women amass shoes, and with the same ‘you can never have enough’ excitement.

page corners

Stylish and practical

My favourite has to be a good bookmark and I can often be found in the Manchester branch of Waterstones picking up the latest bestseller, browsing for new additions for my collection and having a cheeky brew. It was following my most recent visit that I discovered the absolute gem known as a Page Corner Bookmark 🙂

If, like me you are guilty of folding down the corner of the page when you’re reading, this bookmark offers the perfect solution. It gives the illusion of a folded page while saving both your place and, more importantly, the precious book corners from damage.

bookmark 1

no more bent corners

 

Page Corner Bookmarks come in an assortment of designs, each beautifully finished and embossed with different text. The packaging is trendy yet vintage and would appeal to bookworms old and young alike, making this bookmark an ideal stocking filler for the bibliophile in your life .

Created by an innovative team called ‘that company called if‘ the bookmarks are available to buy in branches of WHSmith’s and Waterstones. Bookworms in the Emerald Isle can find them in selected WHSmith’s stores and Eason’s in Ireland and N. Ireland.

bookmark 2

 

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#VodafoneWoes Day8 – Finally Some Good News

I am beyond delighted to be able to update the whole #VodafoneWoes situation and say that my phone line was  finally reconnected this afternoon.

For those of you that have been following the whole debacle, or are stuck in the same cycle of pointless calls to Vodafone, you’ll understand just how awesome this really is. Anyone not read the story so far, take my word for it – it’s been a lengthy, mind numbing process and I am so glad it’s over.

I’m not sure what actually triggered the reconnection, several things have occurred in the last few days that could be responsible, but I will share my ‘journey to reconnection’ for anyone still stuck in the loop with the Vodafone Customer Service team.

At last....

                  At last….

Reaching the complete end of my tether after #Day6, I set out on a mission…..

  • Realising that no Vodafone execs are on Twitter and email addresses for them seem non-existent, I turned to LinkedIn where I found several including Jeroen Hoencamp (CEO at Vodafone UK), Jan Geldmacher (CEO at Vodafone Global Enterprise Ltd.), Petek Ergul (Head of Technology Demand, Planning and Quality, Vodafone UK) to name but a few. I sent invitations to ‘connect’ with all of them and when both Jan and Petek replied, I sent them copies of my #VodafoneWoes blog and asked for their help.
  • They both replied: Jan to say that he was passing it to the ‘directors helpline team’ and Petek to explain that she would reach out to the ‘customer operations team’ and also try to resolve the issue.
  • Meanwhile I emailed Watchdog, Rogue Traders and ITV’s Tonight show with full details of my complaint, also pointing out that there are hundreds of people complaining on social media about the terrible service from Vodafone – some still without a line after 6 weeks…. Once emailed I ensured that I told Twitter I had done so and tagged them, using the #Vodaphone then others also began to do the same, between us Twitter began to get kinda noisy where Voda was concerned and it was all negative publicity….
  • I took full advantage of Vodafone being in the news (launch of VodaTV and the CEO’s vote to stay in the EU) and tagged them with comments on shoddy customer service, again using the #Vodafone on Twitter.
  • I printed off a copy of my complaint and sent it to Vodafone HQ in London – recorded delivery of course 😉
  • I still called the Customer Service number several times a day but began to demand that full notes were added to my account each time so that when I inevitably called back again the call handler could see how long it had been dragging on for, as well as all the broken promises of reconnection and call backs. (I was promised a call back from over 20 different call handlers during the week and not one has ever got back to me.)

This morning I called first thing and was connected to the Egypt call centre where I was told to “Wait 24 hours and it should be on” for the umpteenth time.

I left it a couple of hours and called again, this time getting the Irish call centre and a very helpful call operator called Jade. She took the time to read all the notes and admitted herself that it was totally ridiculous, somewhat beyond belief in parts but that she would try her best to get the line operational. Speaking to her supervisor and explaining just how vexed I was by this point (browser open looking at trains to London to visit Voda HQ in person) she said that they would try their best to get it on by tonight.

As we were ending the call she noticed there was a note on my account – A man called Will in the directors office had left me a direct number, asking me to call him to discuss the issues I was facing at my earliest convenience.

Fearing it was too good to be true, I rang the number and couldn’t believe it when I was connected straight to a human being in the UK from the customer relations department 🙂

After a lengthy phone call where I explained just why I was so so fed up with Vodafone, pointing out all the many failings I’ve encountered this week, he promised to sort it out and get my phone on quick time. He confirmed what price package it was on, sim number etc and I began to believe that it may just happen this time – and it did, just 3 hours later.

So, while I am beyond delighted to be reconnected, I still have the dongle to sort out as well as a refund and hopefully some compensation for the worst week ever, courtesy of Vodafone.

I also think it is pretty sad that I’ve had to go to such great lengths to get something so simple done – what chance do those who aren’t so social media savvy have?

If you are struggling to get anywhere with Vodafone feel free to comment on this post and I will try and help where possible 🙂

Vodafone Woes….

I have been with Vodafone now for a number of years and never really had a problem. Until recently that is….

Firstly I should explain that I have 4 phone lines with them – mine, my hubbies, my daughters and my second youngest son. My phone bill averages at over £100pm and I have always paid it on time and in full.

It all began to go wrong back in March 2015. We went away for a few days and my son ran up a massive bill, by using a shed load of data whilst ‘Minecrafting’ of an evening.

Vodafone_letters

As soon as I saw the bill I called Vodafone to explain what had happened, and to request that more data be added to my sons number to prevent it ever occurring again in the future. ‘The Customer Disservice‘ (they don’t seem to provide an actual service so this name seems more fitting) adviser that I spoke to assured me that what I really needed was a dongle with some data on. Unconvinced but feeling somewhat pressurised I agreed and the dongle arrived a couple of days later. By this time I had realised that I really didn’t need a dongle at all, just some data adding to my sons line as requested, so I returned it the same day it arrived and received a text message soon after confirming it was back with Vodafone safe and sound.

When the April phone bill came I was disappointed to see that, along with my 4 phone lines, the dongle I had returned – unused and sealed as it had arrived, had still been billed to my account.

Being the good customer that I am, I paid the bill in full and called ‘Customer Disservice’ to ask that it be removed immediately and the money taken from my bank be credited back as a refund. She apologised for the mix up and confirmed that they would sort it out as a matter of urgency as she could see that I had, indeed returned it as stated.

Little did I know then that this was to be a pattern that would continue right up until today (November 2015) and I am still being charged for a dongle I never used. Each month I would check the bill, call Vodafone to be assured that they would remove it for me and arrange a refund only for it to appear the following month again.

This week things took a serious turn for the worse and I am now a very unhappy customer indeed – as are many

Twitter is full of complaints about Vodafone customer service, or lack of it.

Twitter is full of complaints about Vodafone customer service, or lack of it.

others judging by the countless complaints about Vodafone on social media, particularly Twitter.

On Tuesday morning I opened my November bill and was horrified/annoyed/upset to see that despite my countless calls every month for the past 8 months, the dongle is still on there. I called Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ and had a little rant about the clear lack of communication they have going on and was told that my problem was down to the returns department. Allegedly they never updated my account when they received it back and that was why I was still being billed. The representative then assured me that she had fixed everything and that the dongle would be removed the same day, I would receive a full refund on my next bill and (after me requesting some form of compensation for my inconvenience), a £20 good will gesture would also be credited to my account.

I ended the call feeling fairly optimistic that the problem would finally be resolved and I could look forward to a slightly lower bill next month. How naive was I…….

Within 5 minutes of me ending the call to Vodafone my hubbys phone lost signal and ‘no service’ appeared on the screen. Thinking this was just a coincidence I called Vodafone back and asked why the number had gone off. They talked me through several trouble shooting fixes, finally asking me to try the sim in another phone which established that the problem was with the sim itself and not the handset. She wasn’t sure why this had happened but advised me that the quickest way to fix it would be to go to our local store where that would be able to read the notes she’d added to my account and give him a new sim card there and then. Easy, right?

He duly went to the Sale branch of Vodafone where the staff gave him a new sim as suggested – he left the store thinking that it was all sorted and called me to give me the good news. Thing is, when he called it came up as my daughters number instead of his own. My daughter was in college at the time and messages me when she finishes to arrange for me to collect her from the Metro-link,  so if he had her number what number, if any, did she have??

Panicked I called Vodafone for the third time that day to be told that it was the store at fault and that they had ported the wrong number to the sim card they’d given my hubby. The only way to rectify this, they said, was for him to return to the store in question so that they could fix the problem. They also confirmed that my daughters number had been disconnected at the same time, meaning that I had to phone the college to pass a message to her to call me from a phone box when she got off the Metro – something that as a 17 year old in 2015 she has never done before.

Hubby returned to the store and, after an hour of calls to various departments it finally became clear what had caused the problem. Apparently, when I called to cancel the dongle for the 8th time, the adviser that took my call actually disconnected his phone number instead, leaving the dongle online with no cancellation or refund in sight.

On Tuesday evening I had a lengthy phone call with someone in the technical department where he confirmed that they had accidentally disconnected the phone and it would take 24 hours to reinstate it as they had to let it completely ‘switch off’ before they could switch it on again. He promised that he would deal with it himself first thing in the morning (Wednesday) and would call me to let me know it was in hand.

With no offer of a temporary sim card or emergency phone number from either the tech team or ‘Customer Disservice’, I ended the call and headed to the Vodafone shop in Sale to see if they could help. I explained that they still hadn’t switched the phone back on, despite me explaining that my hubby uses it for business and it was costing us both time and money while we were being passed from one incompetent call handler to the next.

I have to say that the Sale branch of Vodafone were extremely helpful and gave me a temporary pay-as-you-go sim with some credit on so he could at least make calls in the meantime. The manager was disgusted at the runaround we’d been given and explained how frustrating it was for her and her colleagues to be on the receiving end of such complaints without the proper support to resolve them. I was also informed that there was another customer with a very similar complaint that had been without their number for 6 weeks before it was finally sorted out……..

Despite being told by Vodafone on several occasions that someone would call be back to no avail (for the record the only Voda representative to ever return my call is the assistant manager at Sale branch, thanks Dean), I duly waited until lunch time Wednesday and, having no call back from Vodafone as promised, I decided to call them again.

Unknown-6This time I was on the phone for 50 minutes, passed between 6 call handlers and asked my full name and phone number a staggering 9 times. I was then told there were no notes from the night before so we were no nearer the phone being switched on, but not to worry as they would do it straight away and we could expect the phone to be operational within 24 hours.

At this point I began to feel like I really was being fobbed off every time I called – told to wait 2 hours, 24 hours and, latterly 72 hours and the line would be active again and also meaning that there was no point calling back until that time had elapsed as they can’t/won’t give you any further information. I’m sure the buffoons staffing Vodafone ‘Customer Disservices’ are given a script to read and if you try and discuss anything other than a general enquiry with them it leads to total communication breakdown, cross wires, tears (mine) and long painful silences (theirs).

Another 24 hours passed and my phone line was still not active so, on Thursday I decided to call Vodafone. Again.

I had to explain my whole situation again but was optimistic once again when Omar in ‘Customer Disservice’ apologised and said that he would action it straight away and my phone would be up and running in 2 hours. I questioned this, I mean 2 hours is too good to be true, right? He confirmed that he would ‘handle it personally’ and it would be on for sure so I had no option but to hang up and wait some more.

2 hours later…….phone still not on

I called Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ yet again (see a pattern forming here) and this time was told that the phone number couldn’t be reactivated by them at all and every time he tried to submit the reactivation form it was coming up with an error and not allowing him to continue.

  • I asked why Omar had promised me it would be on within 2 hours if this was the case. He had no answer.
  • I asked why it was taking days to reconnect a number that Vodafone had cut off in error. He had no answer.
  • I then asked why I was being told something different every single time I called and why the notes that were put on my file were incomplete, wrong or, in some cases, totally absent. Again he had no answer.
  • Instead he stuck to his predetermined script in a drone like manner repeating that he would refer it to the reconnection team and it should be on within 72 hours.

At this point I was seriously losing the will to live and had developed a banging headache from being on the phone to Vodafone so much without getting anywhere so I ended the call having absolutely no faith in what he’d said at all and feeling rather despondent.

Your line reconnection we can not do....

Reconnect your line we can not…

This morning (Friday) I decided to visit the Vodafone Sale branch in an attempt to get the phone put back on before weekend, they had been so helpful on Tuesday that I hoped they would be able to do what so many ‘Customer Disservice’ team members had tried and failed.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the case – they were extremely helpful in so much as they gave us more credit on the temporary sim they’d given us on Tuesday, and the assistant manager did try to sort the issue on the phone, but he got no further than I had managed the day before. After spending a ridiculous amount of time on hold and repeating himself several times he too was told that it should be on at some point on Saturday.

I asked what time Saturday but they were unable to provide me this information, despite it being them that put a 72 hour time span on it in the first place. The staff at Sale Vodafone advised me that if it didn’t come on as promised then to call them back and they would try again, also that they aren’t open on Sundays but the Trafford Centre branch is…….

So that brings me to where I am now.

  • It’s almost 8pm Friday night and the phone line is still inactive.
  • I have no idea if it will actually come on tomorrow and the thought of having to repeat myself to Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ again is making me feel physically sick.
  • My husband, who is self employed, has lost an immeasurable amount of business and numerous calls as people try to contact him and get a dead tone.
  • Remember the dongle I mentioned? It is still on my bill and showing as active………

Have you had a similar experience with Vodafone? – I’m interested to see if this is a widespread problem and if anyone else is still waiting to be reconnected.

Indeed they do....

Indeed they do….

Peaceful protest scheduled against Trafford budget cuts – make your voice heard

A group of Trafford residents opposed to the Council’s proposed £24m budget cuts are holding a peaceful protest outside Trafford Town Hall at 6pm on Wednesday 18th February to coincide with the full budget meeting that evening.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall

Steven Lavery, from the group ‘Trafford Residents Against Cuts’ said: “This is crunch time for saving many vital public services and the voice of residents really does count. We have just seen the Council back down on their decision to cut some school crossing patrols, thanks to pressure from protesting parents. We need as many residents to show their support before we lose our children’s centres, disability services and more.

“We know that there are many people who want to voice their opposition but won’t be able to get to the Town Hall for the protest. You can still have a voice by joining our mass tweet at 6pm that night. Follow us on Twitter @TraffordAction for more details.”

TRAC have also launched an opinion poll to find out whether residents would consider paying more Council Tax in order to save some services. Steven says: “We know Council Tax is unpopular but £2 per household per week could put a real dent in the planned cuts. We’d love to know what residents think.”

Link to council tax opinion poll –                                                                           – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trafford_Council_Tax

A Trafford service user is taking Trafford Council to court over the lack of choice offered to residents in the planned adult social care cuts. The Court Case will be heard on Monday 16th February at 10am at the Civil justice centre, Bridge Street, Manchester. Residents are welcome to attend.

TRAC have already handed a more than 2,000 signature strong ‘Save our Services’ petition to the Council. It is still open for anyone wanting to add their signature at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/tmbc-save-our-services

NEW RESEARCH REVEALS THE UK’S MOST LOVED (and hated) BRANDS

So it would appear that the UK has taken Amazon to heart, we have a love/hate relationship with Facebook and political parties get the ‘hate’ vote.

Amazon

Amazon – Internet Retail Giant we Appear to Love

London ad agency, isobel, has conducted some timely research to establish the UK’s most loved (and unloved…) brands.

The survey, conducted in association with OnePoll, polled 1500 UK consumers (18+ and nationally representative), asking them to identify brands against a number of ‘love’ characteristics. The survey also asked respondents to identify those brands, if any, they hated.

Heinz - nation favourite

Heinz – nation favourite

Surprisingly, Amazon, the internet retail giant, is the UK’s most-loved brand polling almost half of the votes (48%); the next three places are taken by food stalwarts Cadbury, Walkers and Heinz with BBC1 demonstrating national affection in 5th.

The rest of the top 10 is occupied by Google (6th), Kellogg’s (7th), retailers Boots and Tesco (8th and 9th respectively) with ITV, the UK’s oldest commercial network, taking 10th spot.

Commenting on the Top 10, Paul Houlding, Managing Partner, isobel said:

“It would seem that longevity works wonders for most. All, bar two of the top 10, predate the 1960’s – with top honours going to Cadbury (1824). Affection, it seems, has been hard won. But it’s not just about affection, it’s about relevance and usefulness and what better proof of that formula than Amazon and Google. Brands that are useful to us, brands that make our lives easier, brands that do what they promise. The question is, can they keep it up? 170 years from now will they have been as resilient as Cadbury?”

With a general election less than three months away the UK’s political parties are firmly under the spotlight and keen to curry favour with the electorate.

However, the isobel Brand Love survey has revealed that the main political parties are amongst the most-hated brands in the UK.

UKIP, the controversial independent party, has been identified as the UK’s most hated brand polling almost one-third of the votes (30%) – closely followed by the Tories in 2nd place (27%) with Labour in 5th and the Lib Dems 6th.

The Top 10 ‘unloved’ brand list is completed by Marmite (3rd), Ryanair (4th), McDonalds (7th) and Starbucks (8th) with Facebook and KFC taking the last two

Love it or hate it?

Love it or hate it?

spots.

“It will come as no shock to anyone (least of all the politicians themselves) that the political parties are all in the same unloved boat” says Paul Houlding “but will it concern them? When it comes to polling day are we voting for the party we love or are we voting for the party of most use?”

Are we beginning to fall out of love with Facebook and Twitter?

The research has revealed that the UK has a love/hate relationship with Facebook, the social media giant.

The site, that has over 1 billion active users, polled 27% of the votes to take 15th place in the love stakes but also hit the hate highs with a top 10 ‘hate’ ranking of 9th.

Twitter has also failed to impress in the love stakes polling only 11% of the votes in 65th – one place ahead of Vodafone and two behind NatWest.

Paul Houlding said: “Social media changes by the second and consequently so does our relationship with it. Facebook, the one time newbie, is now the granddaddy. And there is the suggestion that we’re suffering from Facebook fatigue. Is it as exciting? Do I still need it or want it? And with cyberbullying and privacy issues an ongoing concern – perhaps it’s a social media platform we’re beginning to fall out of love with?”

Key findings:

· Gender divide: men vote for Walkers, women for Cadbury.

· Aldi makes the top 20

· BA takes top airline love honours with easyjet in 2nd – beating Virgin Atlantic in 3rd. Ryanair fails to show the love.

· Audi voted the UK’s most-loved car brand.

· Apple, which consistently tops consumer polls, disappoints in 35th place.

· Nationwide is the most-loved financial institution (44th) – one place behind Persil.

THE TOP 10 MOST-LOVED BRANDS:

1 Amazon

2 Cadbury

3 Walkers

4 Heinz

5 BBC1

6 Google

7 Kellogg’s

8 Boots

9 Tesco

10 ITV

TOP 10 MOST-HATED BRANDS:

1 UKIP

2 Conservatives

3 Marmite

4 Ryanair

5 Labour

6 LibDems

7 McDonalds

8 Starbucks

9 Facebook

10 KFC

 

Manchester features in New York Times travel list

The New York Times has singled out Manchester as the only UK entry in its highly-esteemed annual list of Places to Go 2015.

Manchester

Manchester skyline

The city ranks number 26 out of 52 destinations that the publication considers to be most worthy of travel from the United States. The list is an eclectic combination of lesser-known places as well as those that offer a new reason to visit in 2015.

The Whitworth

The Whitworth

Citing ‘a flurry of cultural openings’ including the Whitworth, HOME and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, the city’s listing suggests that 2015 will be the year that Manchester ‘shows off its sophisticated side’. It also acknowledges the significant number of unique hotels getting ready to open, most notably Hotel Football.

Commenting on the announcement Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism at Marketing Manchester, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see Manchester being recognised in this way, in what is set to be an exceptional year for cultural tourism. Marketing Manchester has been courting the US market through promotional activities and campaigns for many years so this is a real coup and we hope that it will inspire a new wave of travellers to discover the city.

“In addition to the culturally significant moments described in the listing, Manchester will also enjoy landmark events including the fifth Manchester International Festival, Manchester Pride’s 25th anniversary and a leg of the Rugby World Cup. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Manchester Arena which Billboard magazine recently recognised as the third busiest music venue in the world.”

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a fantastic

Hotel football taking shape

Hotel football under construction

accolade for Manchester. The combination of sporting, cultural and historical highlights taking place this year ensures that 2015 is set to be exceptional for this northern city. This is certainly reflected in the visitor figures as Manchester is the UK’s 3rd most visited city for international visitors (after London and Edinburgh) and received almost a million visitors (988,000) in 2013.”

A flurry of cultural openings fills the 2015 calendar of this now edgy city, beginning with the completion of the Whitworth, a ₤15-million renovation and expansion of the former Whitworth Art Gallery into its adjoining park with an art garden and sculpture terraces in February. In the spring, the ₤25 million HOME, a film center and theater, will open. Last fall, the Regency-style former home of the 19th-century writer Elizabeth Gaskell, known to her publisher, Charles Dickens, as “Scheherazade,” opened as a visitor attraction. But it’s not all high culture. This soccer stronghold will be home to Hotel Football, opening in March next to the Old Trafford stadium. The hotel, backed by five former Manchester United players, is one of four new boutiques in the pipeline.

To view the list of ’52 places to go in 2015′ click here 🙂

Trafford Residents Urged To Join Month Of Peaceful Protests

With little over a month to go until the Council meets to discuss the proposed £24 million worth of budget cuts, a group of local residents are  urging people to join them in protests to save vital services.

Residents at the last peaceful protest

Residents at the last peaceful protest

Stephen Lavery, from Trafford Residents Against Cuts (TRAC), the group behind December’s peaceful protest outside the Town Hall, said: “If these cuts go through, families, young people and the disabled in Trafford will lose vital services. We are not talking ‘nice to haves’ here, we are talking Sure Start centres, school crossing patrols, youth centres and £3.7 million from the learning disability budget – the kind of services people rely on every day.

“We are not radical activists here, just ordinary residents trying to save

TRAC are urging residents to join the protest

TRAC are urging residents to join the protest

services which are being hit hard by the fallout from the banking crisis. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been on a protest in your life, this is about us as local people looking out for our community. The failing banks were bailed out to the tune of billions of pounds. We don’t want our successful services to pay the price.”

Leading up to the budget Council meeting on Wednesday 18th February when these cuts are to be debated, three protests are planned to to take place:

From 8:15am on Tuesday January 20th, protest to save the School Crossing at the main pedestrian lights on Chester Road in Gorse Hill.

From 8:20am on Tuesday January 20th, protest to save the School Crossing at Washway Road/Eastway in Sale.

Main protest against the cuts, from 5pm on Wednesday January 21st, outside the Town Hall on Talbot Road to coincide with the Executive and Council meetings. TRAC will be handing in a petition against the cuts with over 2,000 signatures.

Sarah Haughey, member of TRAC said: “Come along, bring your children, your loudest voice, anything you have to make a noise – raid the kids’ toy box if you need to. After the recent accident in Sale where a lollipop man was hit by a car, the Council has to think again about the risks of making these cuts.”

TRAC are also planning a further ‘We Love Trafford’ protest on Valentines weekend, starting at Stretford Library and ending at the Town Hall and will release more details soon.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall

Mum of Sophie Lancaster receives OBE at Buckingham Palace

The Price of Wales has honoured Sylvia Lancaster, founder of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her daughter’s memory, for her work stamping out hate crime.

Sylvia OBE

Sylvia Lancaster and her OBE

 

The mother of Sophie Lancaster, murdered by a gang who attacked her and her boyfriend, said her OBE is a ‘validation’ of all those young people targeted for looking or dressing differently.

Sylvia Lancaster said: “He talked about Sophie, and about gang culture I’m sure she would be proud. To be here, and we can talk about it, cant we? –You’re here in Buckingham Palace – it’s very special…It’s not just about the work that we do, it’s a validation of the work that we do and of the alternative subcultures as well.”

Sophie was 20 when, in 2007, drunken teenagers in a park in Bacup attacked her and her boyfriend, Rob Maltby because of their alternative appearance.

Sophie and Rob

Sophie and Rob

Rob survived the attack but Sophie, who was kicked and stamped on as she cradled her injured boyfriend never regained consciousness and died in hospital 13 days later.

Sylvia said she hoped her charity, which aims to challenge prejudices towards people from alternative subcultures and campaigns on hate crime legislation, would offer troubled youngsters hope.

 

 

 

 

 

Made in Manchester Awards – Shortlist announced

The Made in Manchester Awards have revealed their shortlist ahead of the award ceremony in February 2015.

Made in Manchester Awards

Made in Manchester Awards

 

The awards celebrate the best of Manchester’s young talent in the financial and professional sectors, recognizing excellence in innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, training and development and leadership.

Spanning 10 categories across the financial and professional sectors and including theMade in Manchester awards Manchester Champion Award, entries will be judged by sector experts in a two-tier competition process; a written entry form and an interview for the shortlisted applicants, to ensure a ‘fair, credible and professional process’.

The award ceremony will take place on Thursday 5 February 2015 at the Hilton Manchester, Deansgate with tickets available for purchase at madeinmanchester.co.uk and a list of 2014 winners can be found here

BeKindtoyourmind – mindfulness comes to Sale West

Bekindtoyourmind is a community interest company based in Manchester offering classes in Sale West and beyond, with the aim of reaching out to help people in the community suffering with their emotional well being.

voice headr

Mindfulness offers peace of mind

Their mindfulness classes and workshops work with residential, public and commercial sectors, in both group and individual settings, inviting the attendees to look at their thoughts, feelings and emotional states from a different perspective.

Set up by husband and wife team Thom and Julie, Bekindtoyourmind classes have been running on Sale West for over a year.

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

Thom said, “I’ve been a resident of Sale West since I was 12 years old and as I grew up I identified with a lot of the issues that people who live on the estate struggle with. I am proud of where I live and when I discovered the revelation of mindfulness it was only natural for me to want to share the tools and concepts that have made such a positive impact to my own well being with the community.”

The response from the community has been very impressive to say the least – the first session saw 19 people attend, the majority from Sale West. Thom has been encouraged with the growing numbers since, explaining it normally takes around three or four sessions for people to ‘get it’ before they feel empowered to take back control of their own lives and make clear, proactive choices.

Thom is especially thankful to Marie Price and Dan Shelston of Trafford Wellbeing / Housing Trust, as well as Irwell Valley Housing Association for the support and encouragement they have given him, including funding from the latter which enabled him to undertake training in order to become a fully qualified mindfulness teacher.

IMAG0026When asked for ‘top tips’ for getting the most out of mindfulness, and if it is something that anyone can master, Thom replied, “Mindfulness is about learning to ‘BE’ rather than ‘DO’.

“Our society constantly promotes ‘doing’ – reaching goals, making lists, setting agendas, thinking of new ideas, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact if we look around we can see that it has produced things that make our life easier and enjoyable, but too much of this ‘driving’ part of our nature is the cause for much of the stress, anxiety, depression and other states that hinder our well-being. Now, if we can learn to ‘BE’, meaning to accept things as they are at this very moment and to pay attention to what we are doing right now, we begin to soothe our minds and give the thinking mind a rest. 

“Mindfulness is very easy to learn and once the concepts are grasped it becomes a valuable part of life that can help us to become more calm and content, as well as helping us become more resilient towards states of mind that cause us suffering.”shutterstock_95792515

Bringing mindfulness to Sale West is obviously important for Thom, I asked him how he thought the possible closure of the community centre would affect the classes held there and while he said people could adapt if it was a temporary situation but it would be “a sad day for the people of Sale West” if it were to be permanent.

Thom said, “ I believe the community centre has the potential to be the pulse of Sale West. With the right people, right ideas and right services it can literally change lives. The nucleus it already there, it just needs some fresh ideas. I was motivated to offer my services to the community and wouldn’t want to move away from Sale West but if I’m pushed, I’m pushed. I’d have to take my services elsewhere and that would contradict my initial drive for starting Bekindtoyourmind.

After attending a Bekindtoyourmind session at the community centre I agree it would be a terrible shame to lose such a fantastic service.

Costing just £3 a session, on a pay-as-you-go basis the classes are exceptional value for money. I was made to feel welcome and have never seen the Sunshine Café looking so cosy with dimmed lights, incense, the lot – wonderful.

images-2 copy 2

The session began with a mindfulness chocolate eating exercise – we had to really take our time, noting the smell, texture and, last of all taste. I really enjoyed this part although when eaten in a mindful manner, one chocolate was definitely enough J

Moving on to a mindful meditation I was soon relaxed and feeling calm for the first time that day, maybe a little too calm as I almost slid off my seat and was squinting when the lights came on at the end of the hour long session.

I can’t recommend Bekindtoyourmind highly enough and would encourageimages-2 copy everyone to give it a go – after all there’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Bekindtoyourmind currently run two weekly classes with plans for more in the future. Monday they are at Sale West Community centre on Newbury Avenue for an hour with the class starting at 7pm. On a Thursday they hold a class in Timperley, in the meeting room at Timperley Village Library, again for an hour and also starting at 7pm.

They also offer mindfulness workshops at a discounted rate of £40, held at the Friends Meeting House, Park Road in Sale – for more details or to book please contact Julie@bekindtoyourmind.co.uk

For more information visit www.bekindtoyourmind.co.uk or find them on Twitter @kindmindgb

This article first appeared in the launch edition of Sale West Voice Magazine 🙂

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

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