Friendships and meaning in a changing city – why I've joined Manchester Cares

I’m thrilled to have joined the team at Manchester Cares as Projects Officer, and wanted to share some reflections on my first couple of weeks, and my reasons for joining.

Like plenty of Mancunians I’m pretty proud of where I’m from. Despite our absolutely bleak weather, we have a lot to swagger about and many stories to tell. We’re a diverse and pioneering city full of movers, shakers, grafters and innovators with a camaraderie spirit to boot.

Walking to my new workspace in Ancoats, you can’t help but be reminded of a huge shaper of Manchester’s identity – our industrial past. The industrial revolution took us from a small market town to a booming city, filling the skyline with factories and giving us the nickname Cottonopolis (now the name of a trendy bar) and emblem of the Worker Bee (now tattooed on many a limbs).

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You also can’t fail to notice the shiny new developments, bars and restaurants popping up, at the same time that many libraries, pubs and community hubs are having to close down.

For many the buzz and change of the city is exciting. However, for others it is adding to a feeling of isolation and of being left behind by the city they have helped shape. 

The Manchester Cares approach of connecting people across those two worlds is refreshingly simple, authentic and human – and is what drew me to this organisation instantly. I joined as I want to help bring together the friendly, caring and dynamic people of Manchester and to create more spaces for conversations, friendships and meaningful interactions.

Before joining Manchester Cares I worked in the arts, with a focus on socially engaged and participatory projects. A highlight was Contacting the World (run by Contact), an international festival intended to bridge social divides and generate understanding and empathy between culturally diverse groups of young people. Amongst all of the activity, some of the most memorable moments were the simplest – time spent eating together, talking to one another and sharing stories. It’s these kinds of moments that Manchester Cares values and helps forge.

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Already, in my first two weeks, I have met some brilliant people: older neighbours who have bundles of stories, charisma and enthusiasm including a fabulous former Dame (of the Drag Queen variety!); young people eager to connect, share and listen; and many hardworking people from across sectors keen to help and connect.

I am thrilled to be a part of this network, working to harness the people and places of our brilliant city in a bid to reduce  isolation, division and loneliness.

I’ll be building the Social Clubs programme for our growing network of younger and older neighbours. If you’d like to find out more or get involved, drop me an email on [email protected]

Lauren Banks

Posted by Lauren Banks on Friday 26th January 2018

Lauren is the Projects Officer for our Social Clubs programme at Manchester Cares.

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