Greater Manchester is a people-powered city, a fact reflected in the number of organisations creating social and economic change across the region. Here’s ten of the best:
1. Seeding local entrepreneurship: Levenshulme Market
On one level an ordinary bustling weekly market, Levenshulme also the UK’s only social enterprise market with profits invested back into the local community. Each year traders and locals are invited to pitch for £15,000 worth of funds. Awards are given to high street project (£5,000) or market projects (£1,000) with local residents voting on the best idea. Funds have so far been awarded to a local brewer to allow him to buy equipment to expand, and to Levenshulme Contemporary Arts Centre, which will be a open social space hosting public talks and events during this year’s Manchester International Festival.
2. Becoming a social enterprise city: Salford, social enterprise city
Last month Salford became the first city in the north west of England to be certified as a social enterprise city. At its launch event the city showed off its social enterprise credentials with local organisations including the Big Life group, Social Adventures, the Lowry and Garden Needs. The University of Salford became the second in the country to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark last year.
3. Transforming a heritage building as a social and civic space: Ancoats Dispensary
Local residents in Ancoats in Manchester are fighting to restore a Grade II listed former hospital from demolition. Ancoats Dispenary, a Venetian Gothic building that was the site of a number of medical breakthroughs, has recently been awarded heritage lottery funding following a four-year community campaign. The Ancoats Dispensary Trust plans to transform the former hospital into a community wellbeing centre with studios for artists and local start-ups.
4. Supporting ethnic minority groups: Wai Yin Society
The Wai Yin society began working with Chinese communities in Manchester in 1988 and oversees one of the largest Chinese community centres in the UK. It now has three bases across the city and runs a wide range of services for many ethnic minority groups. Its latest centre The Welcome Centre in Cheetham Hill provides classes from IT to gardening, provides benefit and welfare advice and free lunches to those in need.
5. Creating partnerships to boost local training and skills: The Works
With two sites in West Gorton and Moss Side, The Works is an employer-led scheme supporting local people to find jobs, develop skills and access training courses and financial advice. It is a partnership between The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, City South Manchester Housing Trust and Work Solutions who have come together to help ensure that local people from all backgrounds are able to access the labour market. The Works is also home to Manchester Credit Union, with staff trained to provide benefits advice.