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If you love the North, then Northern Soul is for you. Written in the North of England by Northern writers, Northern Soul is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art to heritage, small businesses, food and leading figures, as well as everything in-between.

Talking to people who work, rest and play in the North of England and scour the region for interesting stories, histories, ambitions and events. Want to read a carefully crafted article about an oddball museum or go behind the scenes of a leading institution? You can find that on Northern Soul.

“Good food doesn’t need to be an elitist thing.” Northern Soul talks to chef Mary-Ellen McTague

Long ago, back before it was subsumed into a south Manchester suburb, Chorlton-cum-Hardy was a village dominated by farmlands and dotted with dairies. The locals pottered along to a nearby creamery to buy their milk and cheese. Today, plenty of traces of Chorlton’s lost history have survived, and one is the curious tiled frontage of […] The post “Good food doesn’t need to be an elitist thing.” Northern Soul talks to chef Mary-Ellen McTague appeared first on Northern Soul.

Long ago, back before it was subsumed into a south Manchester suburb, Chorlton-cum-Hardy was a village dominated by farmlands and dotted with dairies. The locals pottered along to a nearby creamery to buy their milk and cheese.

Today, plenty of traces of Chorlton’s lost history have survived, and one is the curious tiled frontage of an early 1900s business called The Creameries, complete with the legend ‘Drink Milk for Health’. Just a stone’s throw from what is Chorlton tram station, the building has been rather neglected. In recent years, the space was used seasonally to sell Christmas trees, but it’s been a long time since it was a purveyor of fresh dairy products.

Now it’s due to become revitalised as a restaurant and bakery by an experienced team comprising designer Soo Wilkinson, baker Sophie Yeoman and cook Mary-Ellen McTague. Speaking to Northern Soul, McTague says: “I live in Prestwich so it’s not on my doorstep in the same way as it is for Sophie who lives in Chorlton. This was originally her project, and me and Soo have come to this in the last year as it’s got closer to getting on its feet. But Sophie’s been walking past the place for 15 years and it’s fallen into worse and worse disrepair. I think quite a lot of people who live in Chorlton have been looking at it wondering what’s going to happen to it and if it was ever going to be saved. What’s happened now is that the whole of the back of the building has been demolished and the only thing that’s been kept is the facade. The rest of the building is going to be completely new. A lot of people have been very concerned whether we’ll keep the tiling, and we are doing.”

Mary-Ellen McTague at Aumbry. Photo by Chris Payne.Bury-born McTague is perhaps best known for the wildly acclaimed Prestwich restaurant Aumbry, which closed in 2014. Since then, the long-term plans for The Creameries have been gradually coming to fruition, and McTague has been working as head chef for The Real Junk Food Project, turning food waste sourced from supermarkets and wholesalers into top-quality cuisine. It’s an experience which might well impact on how The Creameries works. She explains: “Coming from a purely restaurant background, when I joined the Real Junk Food Project I had to completely change how I approach things. We’d get landed with all these ingredients to cook for an event or a restaurant pop-up and you wouldn’t know what you were getting until the day. You’d be working with the teams of volunteers rather than professional chefs, and we’d borrow kitchens and equipment.

“It completely turned on its head how I went about planning a menu. Normally in a restaurant you’d employ and train staff and get to know your space really well and how to use your ovens. You’d carefully plan a menu and you’d order ingredients in. Junk Food is like the total opposite of that, so it’s made me feel much more free to think on my feet more and make things up on the spot, while still obviously drawing on all the experience that I’ve got. The Creameries will be a little bit more organised than Junk Food, but still very much about seeing what’s available in the morning, speaking to the fishmonger, speaking to the veg supplier, then going from there with the menu.”

Bread and cheeseThe team’s plans for The Creameries are grand and impressive, with bread, butter and cheese being freshly made on the premises, along with a full restaurant menu using locally-sourced sustainable ingredients. It will also host bread-making workings, food talks and wine and cheese-tasting events. The idea is to create a venue that’s very much part of the Chorlton community.

McTague says: “This is something I’ve kind of felt for a long time, that good food doesn’t need to be an elitist or an exclusive thing. It should be for everybody, so we want it to feel really low-key and really relaxed. We’ll be open 8am til 11pm and you should be able to drop in whenever. It’ll be very, very informal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be really good or that you can’t expect really good quality service and wine and food. It’s just more of an approach to the kind of atmosphere we want it to have. We particularly want it to be a real easy place to bring the kids. We want people to feel like it’s part of Chorlton and hopefully with the crowdfunding, people will feel like it’s theirs.”

Sure enough, an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is now open with a range of rewards on offer for those who want to get involved, ranging from £5 for a coffee and a pastry once The Creameries is open to a private party with cocktails and canapés for £2,000. This DIY approach to raising funds seems to be gaining more and more traction within the industry.

“I don’t think it’s just with food and drink either. It’s the way that people are getting published or funding new technologies. What with people’s mistrust of financial services and banks in the last ten years, crowdfunding takes the power to make things happen and puts that back in the hands of the public. I mean, I’ve backed stuff that I’ve thought was interesting – not just food and drink things, all sorts of different stuff – and for me, when I’ve been part of the contributors to a crowdfund, it’s felt like a really positive and empowering thing to do. It’s certainly a much more satisfying way of raising funds than going to the banks.”

The CreameriesIn fact, the initial response to the campaign has been so enthusiastic, with 50 per cent of the funding target raised on the first day, that the target has now been extended, which should cut out the need for a bank loan altogether.

“We’ve been totally overwhelmed, actually. When we announced that we were going to be opening, the response was mad. We didn’t expect to get the response we did and for it happen so quickly, so we’ve decided we’re going to try and crowdfund the rest.”

At this rate, The Creameries should be throwing open its doors early next Spring. “That’s bearing in mind that this is a big build and right now there’s no roof on the building. However, the current date that we’re planning to open is March 5 and it’s all going to plan so far.”

By Andy Murray

Main image: Mary-Ellen McTague at Aumbry, photo by Chris Payne

 

To find out more about The Creameries and contribute to the crowdfunding, click here. 

The post “Good food doesn’t need to be an elitist thing.” Northern Soul talks to chef Mary-Ellen McTague appeared first on Northern Soul.

Published on - Wed, 06 Dec 2017

Review: Jesca Hoop, The Stoller Hall, Manchester

Resplendent in a remarkable red dress which makes her look part flamenco dancer and part Dalek, Jesca Hoop takes to The Stoller Hall stage for something like a homecoming gig. Though originally from California, for the past nine years she’s been living in south Manchester. In that time, she’s developed into a genuinely interesting artist, […] The post Review: Jesca Hoop, The Stoller Hall, Manchester appeared first on Northern Soul.

Resplendent in a remarkable red dress which makes her look part flamenco dancer and part Dalek, Jesca Hoop takes to The Stoller Hall stage for something like a homecoming gig. Though originally from California, for the past nine years she’s been living in south Manchester. In that time, she’s developed into a genuinely interesting artist, though we’ll never know how much the north of England has played its part in that evolution.

Hoop announces that this is the first seated Manchester show she’s ever done, though she doesn’t sound entirely convinced that this is a good thing. In fact, the exemplary, intimate acoustics of the Stoller Hall – think The Bridgewater Hall‘s younger sibling – really suit her sound and show off her voice. Her three-strong backing band is super-tight, by turns powerful and soft in all the right moments. Increasingly, Hoop’s music, as showcased in this year’s entrancing Memories are Now album, can be pretty sparse at times, more like pointillism than broad brush strokes.

The set list takes a good few detours from the current album which makes plain how she’s evolved. Jesca HoopSongs from her earliest albums like Hunting My Dress, Tulip and Havoc in Heaven offer a beguiling, idiosyncratic take on folk-infected rock. Later material – Peacemaker, Dig This Record, Deeper Devastation – feels increasingly soulful, packing a mighty emotional wallop within delicate arrangements, whereas When I’m Asleep is outright pounding.

The recent Memories are Now songs are often darker, edgier and more angular, from the skipping rhythms of Animal Kingdom Chaotic to the gentler, acoustic approach of Pegasi, to the album’s brooding lead track The Lost Sky which will surely be familiar to anyone who’s been within earshot of BBC 6 Music in the past year.

Jesca HoopThey’re all presented without any flashy theatrics or lightshow, beyond that dress and dimming the stage a bit after a few songs at Hoop’s request. There’s no need for any unnecessary clutter, and the songs themselves are rightly front and centre. Plus, the weaving vocal arrangements are such a vital part of the sound that it would be counter-productive to distract from them. For the encores, Hoop returns to the stage to perform the spartan City Bird and a gobsmacking a capella version of Storms Make Grey The Sea. As show-stoppers go, it’s a belter.

Jesca Hoop, MemoriesHoop’s songs are at their best when they’re at their most out-there, ploughing a fresh furrow away from obvious influences, which would appear to be where she’s heading. All things considered the suspicion remains that a truly great one still lurks somewhere within. Thankfully her talent shines forth from the songs, and although she has a devoted following, her work still deserves to be more widely heard.

This certainly feels like a special show and there’s fine stuff going on here, though Hoop herself has a curious, mannered, slightly stand-offish stage presence which sits awkwardly with the soul-baring of her songs. When you’re as gifted as Jesca Hoop, it seems a shame not to just go with it.

By Andy Murray

 

jescahoop.com

The post Review: Jesca Hoop, The Stoller Hall, Manchester appeared first on Northern Soul.

Published on - Wed, 06 Dec 2017

Lancaster is the best place ever because…

…I grew up in a suburb. So when I came to Lancaster I was gobsmacked. Lancaster was proper old. Like lots of towns it had a proper river, a proper train station, a canal, hills, views and the seaside, but what really impressed 18-year-old me was the architecture. There are Roman remains, a medieval priory […] The post Lancaster is the best place ever because… appeared first on Northern Soul.

…I grew up in a suburb. So when I came to Lancaster I was gobsmacked. Lancaster was proper old. Like lots of towns it had a proper river, a proper train station, a canal, hills, views and the seaside, but what really impressed 18-year-old me was the architecture. There are Roman remains, a medieval priory church, a medieval castle gate and keep, and more than 200 Georgian buildings from when Lancaster was one of England’s largest Atlantic ports. To top it off, there’s a massive Edwardian Taj Mahal-style mausoleum towering over the town. This place is a sight for sore eyes.

It punches way above its weight for culture. Lancaster University attracts big names from classical music and theatre. There’s a permanent gallery dedicated to John Ruskin. There’s a thriving writing scene, including a literature festival, and a local orchestra, the Haffner. There are two theatres which between them offer almost every kind of live entertainment. And of course, everywhere you go there’s history: the Pendle witch trials, Jacobite invasions…

It’s wonderful to wander around the town drinking all this in. But it’s even nicer if you live here. 

1. Best View(s)

Lancaster viewQuasimodo had the bells, the bells, and Lancaster has the views, the views. Stand at the top of Castle Hill, the core of the old Roman settlement, and you see the town stretching away towards the Ashton memorial. Stand at the memorial and you see the town stretching away to the castle and the priory church. And beyond that, you see right out over Morecambe Bay and the southern fells. Come up the motorway and you see the full Gothic glory of the former local asylum. Which is better? Sundown across to Lord Ashton’s folly, when all the house windows up to the memorial are glowing as they catch the light? A clear winter’s day in Williamson Park, looking right over the Bay to Barrow, or north at the snow on the Westmorland peaks? We don’t have to throw one out of the balloon. We’ll keep them all, thanks.

2. Best Festival: Light Up Lancaster and Lancaster Music Festival 

Festivals in fields are all very well. The mud on the boots, the near-total irrelevance of your email, the fresh air (once you’ve held your breath past the portaloos). But for taking your everyday places and transforming them, you can’t beat an urban festival. For ages afterwards it all looks different, the way it does after you’ve seen it covered in snow. A tip of the hat then for transfiguring iconic Lancaster venues to the dark nights festival Light Up Lancaster, which synchronizes projections and installations of all kinds with the town fireworks display.

Williamson Park Credit Diana JarvisBut even that pales in comparison with this year’s 46-venue, 200-plus gigs Lancaster Music Festival. Sure, it’s not a big name do. Most of the bands are local, though this year they also came from that there London, that there Sweden, that there NYC, and that there Brazil (incidentally, kudos to Brazilian band The Skrotes for the best unintentionally-funny-to-a-Brit band name of the year). The variety is ridiculous, swinging from brass bands through the usual pub genres and out the other side with improvised environmental percussion and an attempt on the world record for longest audience drone (that’s ‘holding a constant note on any instrument for an hour’ btw). Some venues are pretty much given over to the festival full-time, others only host a few gigs. But for the dedicated flâneur with ears as well as eyes, it’s difficult to beat that October weekend when can’t you walk around town without constantly bumping into music.

3. Best Walk: Lancaster Tourism Literary Guide 

Maybe wandering around town looking at great architecture isn’t quite your thing? Maybe you’re one of those I-read-books-me types? You’re in luck. Lancaster Tourism sells a Literary Guide to the town. In it you can find out what Dickens wrote after visiting the local asylum, what Romantic-era travellers made of the views over the bay, and how a Lancaster-born poet came to write For the Fallen, the poem still quoted on Remembrance Day.

Single Step, Lancaster4. Best Shop: Single Step

I hold my hands up. I’m a veggie, and for the past 35 years I’ve been getting my beans, pulses, unsulphured apricots, halvah, and mildly funny lefty postcards from Single Step. It’s a non-profit workers’ co-operative, and has more yummy, healthy, ethically-sourced stuff than you can shake a stick at. However, as a sign in the shop helpfully reminds you, you do need to bring your own stick.

5. Best coffee shop: Atkinsons Coffee Roasters 

I really do mean coffee shop. Atkinsons have being selling tea and coffee since the year Queen Victoria came to the throne. The current century-old shop is a step back in time, complete with weighing scales and old-school tins. The roasting kit is comparatively youthful, dating back only to the 1930s. Chosen for the vibe, and being hands-down winner of the most evocative Lancaster smell. That’s a pleasant smell, just to be clear; for many, the most evocative Lancaster smell would be the reek from the euphemistically-named and thankfully defunct ‘Nightingale Hall Farm’ plant. Never would you hear so many windows shutting at once as when that place began its operations.

Williamson Park Theatre Credit Dan Tierney6. Best Theatre: The Grand

I’m going to hedge on this one. The best theatre comes from The Dukes, including its award-winning shows in Williamson Park. But the best theatre is The Grand. The oldest bits of it predate the formation of the United States, making it the third oldest theatre building in the UK, and pretty much every big name from the 19th century played there at one time or another. Now what you see is an Edwardian theatre, mostly hosting touring shows including big-name comedians like Eddie Izzard and Bill Bailey. But the real reason to love The Grand is that it was saved from demolition in the 1950s by local theatre group Footlights people, and the place runs almost entirely on volunteers, producing five Footlights shows including the ever-popular pantomime each year.

Potts Deli and Pies, Lancaster7. Most Northern Deli Name Ever: Potts’ Deli ‘n’ Pies

The Lovely Eggs singer, Holly, was not wrong when she told Northern Soul that in Lancaster everything’s cobbled or covered in pastry. Exhibit A: when respected local pie shop Potts recently decided to branch out a bit, they didn’t want people to forget they still did the pies. In the process they gave us the Most Northern Deli Name Ever.

9. Best Bakery: Filbert’s Bakery 

This being Lancaster, of course, Filbert’s Bakery does very well with the pastry. Sticky, fruity, pastry. Mmmmm.

Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, and also sensible vegetables-inside-pastry contraptions. Still not sure if they are pies or pasties or something else. They have explained it to me, nicely, more than once. Seasonal is a big thing. Customers bring in surplus fruit and veg which is turned into tasty stuff. It’s a small, family-run business, started from nothing a few years ago. There are usually around six different kinds of bread to choose from, and pretty much everything is baked in the shop, so you sometimes have to shut the door behind you to make sure you don’t knacker the dough in. It’s friendly. Recently I casually moaned about the horseradish infesting my vegetable plot and walked out with loads of recipes to try after ten minutes of top plant-based banter. You don’t get that in Greggs.

Queen Victoria statue, Lancaster10. Best only-funny-when-you’re-on-a-night-out thing 

Lancaster’s very own enchanted statue. By day, a mild-mannered statue of Queen Victoria blending into Dalton Square outside the Town Hall. By night, after a magic potion or two, the spell takes effect and the silhouette of this celebration of imperial dominion subverts itself, becoming in the process the funniest thing you have ever seen.

11. Best pub

Ooh, this is hard. I’ve been drinking here for 35 years. I know most of the town pubs by the names they had when I pitched up as a student. How can you untangle all those good times from one another to pick a winner? How can you not feel guilty about the ones you haven’t even had room to mention? How can you only talk about beer in these multiple-botanical days? It’d drive you to drink, as my mother would say. So, in no particular order apart from height above sea level, here’s some, but not all, of the great Lancaster pubs.

St George's Quay Credit Diana JarvisFor history, summer vibes and great beer, it’s got to be The Three Mariners at the start of the quay. For proper old-school with great beer, live music and last-drink-of-the-condemned associations it’s got to be The Golden Lion next door to The Dukes, on the way to the old town gallows. For great pizza and, whaddayaknow, great beer, the local Borough Brewery’s latest, The Britannia, halfway to Williamson Park, is the real deal. But just now my desert island pub is The Yorkshire House near the bus station. Because it can’t be arsed having a website, because it does great beer but its idea of doing food is pork scratchings, because it supports the local music scene whichever scruffy, eyelinered direction it goes in, because it has a proper landlady, because, just, table football!, because it’s where my old uni mate met a lad half his age even more obsessed with The Damned than him last time he was in town, because the Velvets’ Pale Blue Eyes was playing on its peerless jukebox the last time I walked through the door. And when those bloody floods knocked it off its feet, this place winked at the ringside seats, scribbled a rude word on the canvas, and got right back up again.

12. Best Town a (brisk) hour’s walk away:  Morecambe

A bit ticklish, this. Small towns are funny about their neighbours. But you’ve got to admit it, one of the best things about living in Lancaster is that you’re really near Morecambe. It’s a bit under four miles from the centre of Lancaster to the Midland hotel. And Morecambe is a whole other thing. Do fish and chips or ice cream ever taste better than at the seaside? Where Lancaster has Georgian, Morecambe has art nouveau and deco. It’s got its own festivals, like Vintage by the Sea and Splendid Day Out’s Steampunk Festival. There’s some great public sculpture, the best of which is probably Shane Johnstone’s Venus and Cupid. I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom – so good they named it thrice. OK, some of it is a bit neglected, and you can get better views of the Bay from the hills, but still. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Morecambe Bay.

And of course, presiding over it all is the statue of a certain Mr Bartholomew, bringing you sunshine. Even if it’s raining.

By Stephen Longstaffe 

The post Lancaster is the best place ever because… appeared first on Northern Soul.

Published on - Wed, 06 Dec 2017

“Everyone should have the same value within society.” Elaine de Fries from The Pankhurst Trust

Standing at 62 Nelson Street, nestled in the grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary, The Pankhurst Centre serves as a permanent reminder of the Suffragette movement. Not only is it where Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived, but this is the place where the Women’s Social and Political Union – or the Suffragettes as they came […] The post “Everyone should have the same value within society.” Elaine de Fries from The Pankhurst Trust appeared first on Northern Soul.

Standing at 62 Nelson Street, nestled in the grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary, The Pankhurst Centre serves as a permanent reminder of the Suffragette movement. Not only is it where Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived, but this is the place where the Women’s Social and Political Union – or the Suffragettes as they came to be known – was founded.

It is bitterly cold when I alight from the bus on Oxford Road, and I’m not entirely sure I’m going in the right direction. As I wrap my scarf around me and consult the blue dot on Google maps, it feels strange that I’m heading into the hospital grounds. But as I pass the barrier, I spy the redbrick building on my left which, juxtaposed with the hospital, makes me feel like I’ve stepped off a time machine rather than the 197 to Piccadilly.

The Pankhurst Centre is a hidden gem in Manchester’s cultural crown. It’s a significant – and fascinating – piece of heritage and yet it’s not a well-known space; its funding certainly does not match its importance.

But 2018 is set to be a massive year for The Pankhurst Trust, which is based at the centre. As I sit in one of the cosy office spaces, clutching a warm brew in my hands, operational manager Elaine de Fries chats excitedly about a number of events planned for the new year. Her optimism is palatable and it’s clear from our conversation that her dedicated team work incredibly hard to keep the centre afloat.

“Next year is the centenary of when some women, those women over 30 who had a household, gained the vote,” says de Fries. “So we want to have a huge celebration. It’s a cause to celebrate, we’ve got lots of plans.”

Elaine de Fries 2 © Pankhurst TrustShe’s not exaggerating. Helen Pankhurst, one of the Trust’s patrons and the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, is holding her book launch at the centre and there’s talk of a screening of the Suffragette movie at the Whitworth Art Gallery. De Fries says: “We’ve got a drink sponsor, so it will be quite a civilised little evening where we talk about women and equality and gender issues generally.”

There’s also a competition with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in the pipeline where students will recreate and reimagine some of the art works destroyed by Suffragettes at Manchester Art Gallery early in the 20th century. “It’s been designed by MMU especially for us. We’re very excited about next year.”

But it’s easy to look at the celebrations and forget the vital work behind the scenes. The Trust’s prime responsibility is to those whom it helps and who depend on the services on offer. The centre is home to a charity which provides housing and practical assistance for women fleeing abuse, Manchester Women’s Aid. The building also houses a small heritage museum.

“We can’t just be gadding about having a load of fun,” de Fries half-jokes. “We’ve also got to be raising money. We’re a very well-used centre. The rooms are full most of the time and we’re sat in the grounds of the hospital.”

At the back of number 62, there’s a patch of outdoor space described as ‘a vital green lung in the heart of the Manchester Royal Infirmary’, but it’s bare and untended. So the Trust had the brilliant idea of turning it into a sanctuary for women and children, many of whom have experienced trauma.

LtoR Bex Shindler & Elaine de Fries 3 © Pankhurst Trust“Patients and staff use our garden and our garden is an unpleasant place to be. It’s not nice, it’s not holistic, it’s not therapeutic and it just doesn’t increase mental well-being. And it should do.”

The team at The Pankhurst Centre have created a crowdfunding campaign – Plant a Seed for Gender Equality – to raise £20,000 and make the garden a reality. As well as being a therapeutic space, a garden is significant to the plight, struggle and sacrifice of the Suffragettes who used flowers and the language of flowers to send messages.

“The first thing is that we need to raise money to make the garden a lovely place to be that would be a healing space, here, in the centre of Manchester, on the Oxford Road corridor. It would be marvellous. If we can crowdfund the £20,000 – it’s a big ask for a garden, I know, and people ask why we’re asking for so much. The ambition is because we’ve been told we’ve got a very good chance at getting a garden at Tatton Park for The Royal Horticulture Show.”

The National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society are keen to showcase the garden at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in July 2018 where it is expected to be seen by around 80,000 people before being replanted at 62 Nelson Street.

“If we can get a garden to Tatton Park, we can do two things,” says de Fries. “We can raise awareness massively for our organisation, both its heritage and campaigning, and we can raise money there. But to get the garden there, we have to raise money. We’ve got an excellent firm of landscape architects who are doing all the planning and project management pro bono, but we need plants.

“And on top of the fundraising, the children in our refuge have never been to Tatton Park. We’re going to take every single woman and every single child, which is 30 women and possibly 70 children, to Tatton Park to have a lovely day out.”

The Pankhurst Centre campaigns tirelessly to end domestic violence against women and young girls, alongside issues surrounding gender. De Fries tells me that she attended the recent March of the Mummies rally, a protest which sought to highlight the negative or discriminatory treatment in the workplace of 77 per cent of working mums.

“The statistics on domestic violence are skewed. But I’d say one in three women experience it personally. Almost every woman, man and child have been touched by it and it is the sort of experience that can stay with you for a long, long time, if not forever. Many people who experience domestic violence never report it, we see just the tip of the iceberg. I want it to be as unacceptable as drink-driving or smoking in the living room with a baby present. We do a lot more than we’re funded for. There isn’t a single member of staff that works their hours. We all work and volunteer. We live and breathe the Pankhurst Trust. The staff here are driven, and they have vision and hard work because they believe in what they do.” Parlour at the Pankhurst Centre 2 © Pankhurst Trust

As a newbie to the crowdfunding, what does de Fries think of its surge in popularity? Is it a helpful tool for smaller charities in need of funding?

“We’ve never crowdfunded before,” admits de Fries. “I’ve not slept a wink since we started the campaign. I am addicted to refreshing the crowdfunding page. I woke up at 2.30 this morning to check it. It’s about sharing. The crowdfunding just really gets the word out there. We’ve got just under 50 per cent of the money now and we’ve got loads of supporters. It’s massively raised our awareness. It’s very exciting, crowdfunding, it does feel like a celebration.”

Emmeline Pankhurst's Blue Plaque © Pankhurst TrustAnd the Trust is giving something back to those who have dipped hands in their pockets. A £10 donation – or anything really – gets you a thank you; £50 and you’re an honorary friend of the Pankhurst with a plant named after you. For £1,000, you’ll get your name cemented into the garden where it will remain for generations (as well as a host of other goodies).

The Trust is made up of approximately 45 paid staff and 60 volunteers. “We couldn’t run the heritage site without the volunteers. The gardeners volunteer. The people who run the museum volunteer. On our therapeutic group work, we have one paid member of staff and a volunteer. We have volunteers at the drop-in. The counselling is run by volunteers. You can see yourself making a difference here.”

It would be remiss of me not to mention the poignancy of the votes for women centenary in our current climate. Despite being 100 years on, social injustices are still faced by women every single day. We only need look at the surge in reports of sexual assault and harassment within the workplace and patriarchal institutions to see that, as a society, we’ve got a long way to go before we’re anywhere near equality.

“We believe in the equality of women and that everyone should have the same value within society,” de Fries agrees as we chat about topics from Trump and Brexit to the recent Hollywood scandals. “It’s not so long ago. It’s only 100 years ago. I was born in the 60s. I mean, look at the revelations that are going on now. Women, and men, have worked very, very hard for the cause. We’re campaigning for equality because a diverse, equal society is fairer and better. There’s no doubt about it.”

By Emma Yates-Badley

 

Votes for WomenFor more information about the Plant a Seed for Gender Equality campaign, or to donate, click here. 

The post “Everyone should have the same value within society.” Elaine de Fries from The Pankhurst Trust appeared first on Northern Soul.

Published on - Tue, 05 Dec 2017