The sun is shining. Forever Manchester’s Roadshow van is out and about. It must be summer.
Lisa and Vicky are setting up their stall in Ardwick Green Park ready to welcome local residents.
“So why are you here?” I ask Lisa as she arranges a stack of jelly beans.
“We’re here as part of our summer roadshow around Ardwick and Wythenshawe. It’s a fun day out for local people,” she says, “and a chance for us to connect like-minded neighbours.
“Here at the van we’re finding out what people are passionate about. We ask what they can teach and what they’d like to learn. Then we’ll try to bring those together with some activities and a bit of funding, if it’s needed.”
Together with partners from local housing associations, the Council and Buzz – the health and wellbeing service – this is a day of fun for everyone. There are freebies – like the jelly beans – and a chance to win prizes but, most of all, it’s an opportunity to come together and meet new people.
Last week Lisa, Vicky and the van were down the road at Grove Village. “We had about 20 residents come and chat to us,” says Lisa. “People were interested in teaching some quite extraordinary things like Latin American dancing, woodwork, guitar playing and, what else was it, Vic?”
“Finger knitting,” says Vic from inside the van.
“Finger knitting, repeats Lisa.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“Knitting with your fingers, Len.” Of course.
“And what did people want to learn?”
“We had some ladies from Syria and Iran who were keen to learn conversational English so we’re talking to our local partners to see if we can set up conversation cafés, just to get people talking.”
I love that Forever Manchester is staging this series of roadshows. There’s no better way of connecting with local people than coming across a friendly face and having a person-to-person chat. It’s something we’ve all missed during lockdown.
“Over the last few months, we’ve relied on people being online,” says Lisa. “And that’s not the real world. Not everyone is digitally connected, not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter. Having that eye-to-eye interaction is so important.”
The roadshows continue each Thursday throughout the summer holidays, 11am -3pm:
22nd July – Hartfield Allotments, Hartfield Close, Brunswick M13 9XY
29th July – West Gorton Park, Clowes Street/Wenlock Way M12 5FJ
5th August – Coverdale Centre, 217 Stockport Road M12 4DY
12th August – Swinton Grove Park, Swinton Grove M13 0EU
19th August – Plymouth Grove, Lauderdale Crescent M19 9DP
For details contact:
Lisa Brown 07816 492 307