Inspecting Liverpool, July 2015

Inspecting Liverpool - 87I’ve done this before on here, walking round the North and the South of the city taking photographs to roughly see how it’s doing on an ‘ordinary’ day. Meaning not some great holiday or special events day, but one where the streets and the people are just going about their business much like they always do. My favourite kind of day.

In fact I’ve been doing this ‘inspecting’ for years, since long before this blog. Reasoning partly that someone’s got to and it might as well be me, and also simply out of love for the place where I live. This particular week I’d been mostly working in London and so felt a particular urge to see how Liverpool was doing once I returned.

Off the bus in Catharine Street.

Off the bus in Catharine Street.

By St Philip Neri.

By St Philip Neri.

Continue reading

Competing with Loneliness

HCT - 1Most of this week and much of this year I’ve been working with a bus company. No ordinary bus company, though. Rather one that can state confidently and clearly that “We are the world’s leading transport social enterprise.” More importantly, they say this:

“Outside of our explicitly commercial contracts, our competitors are not other bus companies. Our competitors are social exclusion, loneliness and social isolation.”

Having spent time with HCT Group’s front line staff in Bristol and in Leeds, this week we arrived in Hackney, where the organisation was born as Hackney Community Transport in 1982.

Now Hackney Community transport has grown into a much bigger operation.

Now Hackney Community Transport has grown into a much bigger operation.

And I’m here at Ash Grove in Hackney having a look round with bus drivers and other HCT Group people from London, Bristol, Leeds, Wakefield and the Channel Islands. Though as you’ll hear later we come from many more places than that in reality. Continue reading

East of Hull – Keeping Spurn Wild

So then, what’s East of Hull? ‘Rotterdam?’ I hear you ask. Well yes, but before you get there is the strange, flat, watery, eroding and beautiful place where Sarah’s just stayed.

“Sarah Horton here, reporting from a recent trip to ‘the end of the world’, as I described the Spurn peninsula to Ronnie! ‘Spurn,’ you say, ‘where’s that then?’ Well it’s what’s to the east of Hull, and it’s one of the strangest and loveliest places I’ve ever visited. Read on for more.

spurn top

*

I’m the sort of person who likes time alone, always have been. My work as a funeral celebrant is demanding and challenging, so I’ll often take time away to recharge. Right now, I’m not working, as I’ve been involved in a road traffic accident with a big truck, leaving me without a car, shaken, vulnerable, and in need of some time to recover. Feeling a bit restless after four weeks of rest, physio and emotional support, I’m ready to step back into the world – very gently – and see what that feels like. Continue reading

Street Market Garden

A good, warm Street Market in Granby today. Full of friends and conversations. So I didn’t take as many photographs as I usually would, too busy talking! Anyway, here they are – minus donkey rides, as they’d already finished for the day before I ambled round with my camera.

All sorts of creatures are here.

All sorts of creatures are here.

Though mostly human.

Though mostly human.

Lots of food.

Lots of food.

Bikes being fixed.

Bikes being fixed.

On a sunny day in Liverpool 8.

On a sunny day in Liverpool 8.

Continue reading

Liverpool Urban Renaissance

A reflection on where we are – and how it all feels at the moment, particularly in Granby.

Renaissance - 1A few weeks ago I wrote emotionally on here about the how tos and joys and frustrations of urban renaissance. Of being involved in bringing new life back to places long condemned to death by the vicissitudes of time and public policies.

“There is no one method. And even when you all make one up and decide what you want to do and how you want to do it to get to where most of you want to go in your place, it will change by the day depending on how you are all feeling:

  • Some days those of you who are ‘good at the detail’ won’t be able to be bothered with ‘all that crap’
  • And those of you who are ‘always able to see the best in everyone’ will sometimes think just the opposite of that and will find you’ve just let everyone know in no uncertain terms.
  • Other days life will happen and the thing you’ve planned, dreamed of and applied for competently and confidently will be knocked back for no good reason you’re going to be able to see that day.
  • Or more than a few of us will have forgotten to put on our superhero suits on the same day and so stand revealed as the fragile, maybe tired and sometimes even lonely human beings we in fact are.

Because that’s all we are and that’s what we are and that’s the whole of what we are. And what’s wrong with that? It’s complicated and we are all of us only learning. But now and then and gradually over time, and all of us together in all of this, we might get somewhere. We might see some improvement.”

Then since writing that I’ve been relatively quiet on this blog, because life has turned out to be exactly as described above.

But we are, as they say ‘getting there.’ Continue reading

On the road to Emmaus

I’ve visited Emmaus in Leeds twice now and find their approach to ending homelessness unusual but inspirational. So I thought you might appreciate a look around at what they do.

“At Emmaus we’re working together to end homelessness.

We know that overcoming homelessness often means more than a roof over your head. That’s why Emmaus supports people to work their way out of homelessness, providing meaningful work as well a stable home for as long as someone needs it.”

Emmaus Leeds.

Emmaus Leeds, one of 25 Emmaus Communities across the UK.

Each time I’ve visited I’ve been with people from social enterprise bus company HCT Group, showing them the breadth of potential activities for social enterprises. And Emmaus are very much a social enterprise. The people who live here also work here and elsewhere in Leeds, selling the stuff they make and repair, as we’re about to see. Continue reading

Listening to Africa: Africa Oyé 2015

Africa Oye - 1As you can see, our irrepressible Tommy Calderbank did eventually bring the sun out with the sheer force of his optimistic personality, but for the first couple of hours of today’s Africa Oye in Sefton Park it was a different and wetter story.

I needed Africa Oyé today. For various reasons to do with this being a blog and not a diary I needed the healing joy that this free festival has been bringing to my life for well over 20 years now. These have been tough weeks and it was time for some time for me.

To celebrate Liverpool in the best way I know.

To celebrate Liverpool in the best way I know.

Enthusiastically welcomed as ever.

Enthusiastically welcomed as ever.

A team of signers helping out this year too.

A team of signers helping out this year too.

But I arrived for lunch in heavy rain.

But I arrived for lunch in heavy rain.

Continue reading