WE know the feeling. You want to pitch in, but, well, you just don't know how. There's only so many times you can chide litter-bugs and buy ugly veg. If only there were somewhere you could go to find out about 25 easy ways to help improve your city. Well how about that...
EAT JUNK FOOD
No, we’re not saying you should dash to MacDonald’s for a Big Mac and large fries here, we’re talking about the Junk Food Project, which intercepts food that would otherwise go to waste and turns it into nourishing meals served on a pay-as-you-feel basis. With around 15 million tonnes of edible food wasted annually in Britain alone, eating a few wonky veg is a small price to pay. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Manchester’s resourceful new café should be open soon. In the meantime, you can get involved here or download Too Good To Go, an app which shares the same principle.
WEAR ECO FASHION
While the fashion world hasn’t always had the best reputation when it comes to ethics, there is a movement in the right direction, from Selfridges’ Material World campaign to many designers rejecting fur (despite a few exceptions leading to PETA protests at the recent London Fashion Week). Spanning Beaumont Organics to Stitched Up’s repair cafes and clothes swaps, Body Confidential has rounded up in Manchester and beyond.
KITTING OUT YOUR HOUSE? MAKE A CLEANSTART
Rather than traipsing round overpriced department stores for your next piece of furniture, or turning to the tip for that awkward house clearance, consider CleanStart: a social enterprise which employs, trains and nurtures local people - some of whom might find it difficult to secure employment elsewhere, such as ex-offenders and ex-military. As well as various domestic services, they also offer regular workshops in the likes of furniture upcycling. Every £1 invested in the company creates up to £2.45 in social value.
SUPPORT THE HOMELESSNESS CHARTER
Manchester has the dubious honour of being one of the UK’s homeless capitals, something affirmed by the amount of rough sleepers you no doubt pass daily. It’s a contentious issue - many charities say that to give spare change perpetrates the cycle - but one way you can do your bit is supporting the Homelessness Charter; a collective of street support charities throughout the region. From donating to #BigChangeMCR to joining an action group, there are many ways to get involved.
TUCK INTO PUB GRUB THAT’S NEET
Not only is the Eagle & Child an MFDF award-winner (more here), it also has a big conscience. Through a scheme called Eat Pennines, this community pub has supported 70 unemployed and disadvantaged young people by recruiting and training them in hospitality and horticulture. It’s also sustainably-minded, composting and recycling where possible, additionally to being a base for Incredible Edible Ramsbottom. Also keep an eye out for Wendy House, a coffee shop due to open this summer which will also employ NEET (not in employment, education or training) youngsters.
SEW SOME SEEDS
While green spaces are the lungs of a city, Manchester lags behind those such as London, which is around 47% green space in comparison to Manchester at around 20%. But there are plenty of ways to get the city growing. April 22 sees the annual Big Dig while City of Trees is an ambitious movement which aims to plant a tree for every Greater Manchester citizen within a generation. More locally again, check out your local council: Oldham, for instance, has several green schemes and is this year competing in the RHS Britain in Bloom UK finals.
JOIN A CANAL CLEAN-UP
Manchester’s status as the UK’s first industrial city is largely owing to its network of canals, and this Victorian legacy now contributes to much of its character; particularly in Castlefield, the UK’s first urban heritage park. But keeping them clean is no easy feat - a recent draining of Deansgate Locks revealed everything from traffic cones to a sex doll, and that’s before natural occurrences such as weeds. Inland Waterways hosts regular clean ups, while local associations include the Ancoats Canal Project and Bridgewater’s Est. 1761.
HELP WOMEN PRISONERS…WHILE EATING
Part of a nationwide charity which helps soon-to-be-released prisoners - giving them employment in an onsite restaurant and the chance to gain NVQ qualifications - ’s female prison is a lesson in sustainable dining. With higher job prospects, staff have a reduced chance of reoffending on release and generally find adapting to society easier. Lucy Tomlinson isn’t the only one to >span class="s2">praise its contemporary British cuisine and the converted chapel surroundings are pleasant too.
UP YOUR FESTIVAL GAME
Large events can leave a considerable trace on the environment, and not just in the ways you might think: from the paper for marketing to the transport for those involved. So, when you’re researching your next fest, take a look at their green commitment. Manchester International Festival 2015, for example, recycled or reused 95% of sets and props and printed all publicity materials on FSC-certified stock, amongst other things. And One Tribe goes one further, donating all profits to the Green Paw Project.
ORDERING IN FOR THE OFFICE? DO IT MINDFULLY
When you order from Good Mood Food, not only can you expect fresh ethical buffets using locally-sourced produce but - since it’s a catering social enterprise in partnership with Manchester Mind - all profits go towards providing vital mental health services. With the region constantly threatened by funding cuts, despite poor mental health being one of our deadliest epidemics, such support is crucial.
GET SNAP HAPPY
OK so you might think there'd be more charitable things than taking part in a crowd-sourced photography project, but a world without art would be a grey one indeed. Plus, A Day in the Life has another facet: capturing the people who live, work, shop and pass through Manchester in a single day. The visual library will then be turned into an artwork by a local artist. So, whether you’re on a smartphone or an SLR, get documenting on 1 April and be part of creating a permanent testimony of Manchester in 2017.
PARTY FOR THE PEOPLE
Next time you’re looking for gig tickets, consider the UK’s only non-for-profit ticket agency. It’s very simple: you pay your fee as normal but, instead of going to some fat cat corporation, Party for the People take an everyday running cut and give the profits to charities worldwide. So far they’ve raised over £30,000. There’s plenty to go at too: while based in Sheffield, PFTP cover events across the country.
SPONSOR A THEATRE
Not only are they a vital entity when it comes to arts and culture, many theatres are additionally charities and essential to their local communities; Bolton Octagon and Manchester's Contact Theatre being just two examples. If you’re partial to watching a good show, therefore, becoming a theatre member is ideal for both parties. Regular discounts? Yes please. Most offer several ways to support, from naming a seat to leaving a legacy.
GRAB A PIZZA AND PINT
A pizza and a pint for the greater good, you say? Yes, these popular victuals can be virtuous… if you go to the right places, that is. For the pizza, head to Salvi’s Corn Exchange deli or John Dalton Street Cucina and order ‘:’ all profits from this Neapolitan delight (including those raised via the >span class="s2">JustGiving page) will go towards funding research into GM1, a rare disorder which destroys nerve cells and currently has no cure. Then it’s off to Albert Square Chop House for a Rhys’ Remedy pint, proceeds from which go to Shine; a UK charity which support adults in their twenties, thirties and forties who have experienced a cancer diagnosis.
Not only do high-street chains benefit from economy of scale, they’re also more immune to rising business rates. Plus, who wants to see all cities offer the same things? Independents brighten our retail landscape, offering the chance to be individual while often supporting artisanal talent. But they need our help to survive, hence campaigns like Small Business Saturday. Our advice? Make every day a Small Business Saturday.
HAVE A LAUGH
Barking Tales is a stand-up night with a difference: its aim, while still to get everyone chuckling, is to raise money and awareness for Manchester Mind. Despite some progress in destigmatising the subject of mental health, there’s still a way to go, meaning events like this one are essential conversation starters. Hosted by resident MC Harriet Dyer, Barking Tales is back for four sessions - first and last Wednesday of June and July - with a mixture of traditional material and Fringe extracts.
DO THE MILL'S WILL
Fancy owning a unique piece of art and helping one of Salford’s most beloved institutions? Islington Mill is currently fundraising, with the aim of securing the roof and turning the derelict fifth and sixth floors into artist studios - no easy feat, even without the extension involved. That’s why co-director and artist Maurice Carlin has come up with the ingenious idea of Temporary Custodians, creating one-off prints using the mill’s stone flags: each costs £1000, with all owners then invited into a custodian’s committees and involved in mill projects over the course of a decade. With Carlin recently appointed a Clore fellow, it’s no doubt a nifty investment too. Find out more on YouTube.
BUY A FOODINATE DISH
Founded in 2015 by Manchester graduate Caroline Stevenson, the Foodinate concept is simple but powerful: order a Foodinate-branded dish from a participating restaurant and a meal will in turn be donated to someone in need. Restaurants include No 1 Watson Street and Penelope’s Kitchen; which recently opened a permanent deli at Dock 10. Just out for a brew? Several coffee shops now offer the chance to buy a ‘suspended’ coffee for someone who needs it. And Oldham’s Bean Good café shares the same ethos.
Fundraising offers the chance to attack that bucket list while raising money for a good cause. Win-win really. Upcoming opportunities in Manchester include Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day, the Booth Centre’s Sleepout (registration opens in June), and theGreat Manchester Run. Feeling really brave? You can even join the British Heart Foundation Dechox campaign (beware though, it involves giving up chocolate).
START YOUR OWN
Created by deed in 1984, The Manchester Guardian Charitable Trust offers grants of up to £2000 for worthy causes - in particular those that support young people, older people and those with disabilities - whether education initiatives, arts initiatives or community groups. Have a gander at Manchester Community Central for loads of useful resources, don your thinking cap and get applying.
SHOW THE LOVE
Show the Love is a campaign by , whose vision is a world powered by clean energy within the next generation. The premise? Unless politicians know this is something we all care about, they won’t have the mandate to act. So >span class="s2">show what you love, from bees to the British coastline. Simply appreciating the local environment - whether it’s just taking a walk in your local park or taking part in organised events such as the GMWalkingFestival - sends a powerful message. Have kids? The RSPB has a lively calendar of family events too.
REDUCE YOUR EMISSIONS
In terms of carbon footprint, Manchester is doing pretty well at the moment: the region’s Clean Air for Schools programme recently won a National Air Quality award, MMU has maintained a top three spot in the university green league since 2013 and Manchester Airport has become the UK’s first carbon neutral airport (by the way, Platform is a good place to wise up on what’s going on). But, with air pollution linked to the early deaths of about 40,000 people annually, there’s always more to be done. TfGM’s Travel Choices is a useful resource, while businesses can join the sustainable travel revolution.
DONATION DONATION DONATION!
Time, actions, actual objects…donating doesn’t have to be money-oriented (although that always helps too). Charity Choice has a comprehensive list of both regional and national charities, with details of how you can help, while crowdfunding has opened another outlet altogether. Even things often found around the house can be put to good use: sanitary products for Monthly Gift, old gadgets for Place of War and even interview clothes for Smart Works.
BE A SOUL-DIER
Manchester’s longstanding entertainment complex probably isn’t the first place which comes to mind when it comes to being philanthropic. But away from the neon signs and multiplex cinema, the Printworks harbours a charitable side. Come August it’s the Manchester Soul Festival, which has so far raised £40,000 for The Christie, and spring will see volunteers from the cathedral’s Volition programme preparing the rooftop garden - home to a hydroponics unit, fruit, veg and even live honeybees - for spring. Produce is often sold on behalf of charity.