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"I came to Manchester Cares to help others, but found it also helped me"

Please note: this post is 9 months old and The Cares Family is no longer operational. This post is shared for information only

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Over the summer, we adapted our Social Clubs programme, so we could pilot Learning Month – a way for us to understand the impact of the programme and how to improve by collecting stories and feedback from neighbours through fun, guided activities. From surveys, to poems, we had so many joyful responses and helpful learnings which we’d like to share. 

Learning Month included quantitative and qualitative methods, conducted one-to-one and in groups, so that neighbours had a variety of ways to contribute. We also wanted neighbours to connect and share different perspectives with each other, so we redesigned some of our regular social clubs – like writing poems about Manchester Cares at Creative Writing – to encourage neighbours to share stories and feelings with the group.  

We also reached out to neighbours who hadn’t attended social clubs in a while, to understand their experiences and what barriers they may face to rejoining the programme. 

Overall, 65 neighbours took part across four weeks. Four neighbours also helped us to review to the stories and feedback we received, and we used their interpretations to inform our analysis. 

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The results showed that social clubs create a space for neighbours to connect with one another. Staff help to create a welcoming environment by facilitating activities that stimulate conversation and encourage neighbours to open up to others over a brew and a biscuit. 

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“The films and documentaries always generate a lively debate afterwards. 

With a nice hot brew and a biscuit, we chat to each other.” 

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Neighbours’ stories also highlighted how social clubs gave them the opportunity to meet new people, see familiar faces and make new friends. These social connections give neighbours a supportive group of people to rely on – a community. 

“The song [Let Me Try Again by Frank Sinatra] I chose is about staying together and trying again. Thats what Manchester Cares’ social clubs feel like for me.” 

Better Understanding

Manchester Cares is all about bringing people from different generations and backgrounds together. We were, therefore, encouraged to hear that neighbours felt they had the opportunity to meet and learn more about people from different walks of life to them at social clubs. 

“I’ve met new people outside of my usual circles.” 

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As a result of feeling more connected and united, neighbours reported that they also felt happier, more confident and more active after coming to social clubs.  

Social clubs also had a lasting impact giving them the chance to build positive, shared memories:  

“I will probably wake up tonight with a memory of my evening with friends of Manchester Cares.” 

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Learning Month also gave us some valuable insight into how we can make our Social Clubs programme even better. 

  • Firstly, some neighbours suggested ways we could be more inclusive, while others talked about how their nerves and confidence can sometimes prevent them from making the most of social clubs. So, we’ll be focusing on making sure neighbours who experience barriers to connecting with others can be better supported over the coming months
  • Secondly, neighbours had feedback on the location and timing of some social clubs. For example, some younger neighbours find it hard to attend social clubs that take place during work hours. So, we’ll be looking to get neighbours’ input into where and when we should run new clubs in the future. 
  • Thirdly, neighbours told us they didn’t learn as much about their local area or new skills as much as we thought they might. So, we’ll be ensuring that neighbours have new opportunities to learn more about Manchester or to pick up new skills as we plan what social clubs to run in 2024.