Thomas got involved with Manchester Cares at the very beginning. So as Manchester Cares turns one, he wanted to share what the community means to him, and some of the stories from his life that he's loved sharing with his younger neighbours over the last year.
I got involved with Manchester Cares as I wanted to do something other than going to the casino and I was really intrigued to meet my younger neighbours. To my surprise – and perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised – all the younger people I’ve met through Manchester Cares are amazing. They’re intelligent, they’re genuine, they’re kind, and they look out for me. And I look out for them.
I love to share my life experiences with everyone. The Desert Island Discs club in Ancoats is great for this. I shared the story of my first love, and being reunited with her decades later.
At the trip to the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Gallery, I shared that my father was a merchant from Hong Kong. He had a factory that, among other things, made materials. So it was particularly interesting to go along to that trip and try dyeing materials with my younger neighbours, as it’s something I already knew about. I gave my dyed material to Laura, a friend I’ve made through Manchester Cares. At clubs we share memories but we also share skills.
I was surprised that I got on so well with younger people. They find my stories exciting, but to me they seem like nothing. I was born in Hong Kong during the Second World War. I lived in Kowloon City. I was one of 7 (I had three brothers and three sisters). They all stayed in Hong Kong, but I moved around. I’ve lived in Singapore, London, Belfast. I’ve worked in factories, for the RSPCA, and I set up and run a Chinese restaurant in Manchester on George Street. I also set up a Chinese Welfare Association in Belfast when I was there. I’m a people person.
People at clubs are amazed when I tell them that I studied martial arts with Bruce Lee in Kowloon when I was growing up. But to me it's just something that happened!
I also love to talk about football: to talk about it with younger people who also love the sport. I support Liverpool and I met a volunteer called Summer who is also football mad. She plays football and teaches football skills too. You meet such interesting people at the social clubs.
My favourite club? I love the ballroom dancing. Because I’m good at! People are surprised at how good I am… at my age (74)! I’ve been teaching the volunteers some steps.
I look forward to the clubs every day – and seeing the people I get to share them with.
Happy Birthday Manchester Cares!
If you'd like to get your older neighbours, like Thomas, you can sign up to volunteer with Manchester Cares here.
Posted by Thomas on Wednesday 14th November 2018
Thomas, 74, has been attending our social clubs since the beginning!