Charity the Mancunian Way

September 21, 2015

Our Chief Exec Nick Massey has a monthly column in our fanzine.

Here’s his latest instalment…

Do you remember August 9th 2011? A day often described as one of the darkest days in Manchester and Salford’s history.

It was the day the riot came to town, or to be more accurate the opportunistic looting came to town. I remember going home from town that evening just as it was all kicking off and watching the story unfold on TV and, by midnight, if you believed the reporters hysterical outpourings, you’d have thought Manchester had been razed to the ground.

Like many others I came into the city centre early the following day to see if I could help in any small way.

I walked around the centre and was stunned. Not because of the destruction and chaos, quite the opposite, it was the speed at which everything had been put back to normal.

Within a matter of a few hours, local people had voluntarily cleaned up the entire mess that a few selfish morons had created. What I remember most, though was the sense of community and
the tweets and the Facebook messages earlier in the day from people appealing to fellow Mancs not to copy the scenes from elsewhere in the country and behave like…well Mancunians.

Be proud of this place, love it and do things differently. It was also a crucial date for Forever Manchester, because it was that overwhelming sense of love for this place that pushed us towards fully embracing the name that we’d been faffing around with for a couple of years; it was also the time we realised exactly how much the new government’s austerity measures were going to affect local communities and it was the year we stumbled across the beautiful strapline that is ‘CHARITY THE MANCUNIAN WAY’…’Course, we had no idea what it meant yet, apart from a vague Tony Wilsonesque notion that ‘this was Manchester and we do things differently ’round ‘ere’.

And yet it chimed with the times and it was reflected in the eyes of those who turned up to clean the streets and sweep away the nasty aftertaste of the pillaging. Our search to put some real depth and meaning into our strapline led us meet Cormac Russell, the inspirational leading light behind the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Movement in Europe and Managing Director of Nurture Development.

Cormac has an amazing storytelling ability which enables him to turn little gems into the Koh-I-Noor diamond, and he drew us an intriguing picture of an approach to working in communities
which draws upon the strengths and potential of the people who live in them. It involves recognising the talent, skills, and experience of people in our communities, getting them to connect
with each other and work powerfully together for the benefit of their local community.

This is ABCD and to us this perfectly described what we meant by “Charity the Mancunian Way”. Without Cormac’s advice, passion and sheer belief in ABCD, Forever Manchester might have not have sprouted wings. It was fantastic to meet up with Cormac again recently at the Global ABCD Festival and discover what similar minded people are doing around the world and take further inspiration from the fact that Forever Manchester is in the vanguard of this pioneering and game changing approach.

Better still we’re honoured that Cormac has chosen Forever Manchester to be one of Nurture Developments Learning Sites giving us not only global profile but also recognising the great work
going on in many neighbourhoods throughout Greater Manchester.

We’re excited about the next stage of our journey and we’re looking forward to deepening our friendship with Cormac Russell and Nurture Development, combining our own talents, strengths
and assets to help local people do extraordinary things together to create happy, healthy, thriving places to live and work.

See you soon,

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