A Worsley family has created the first premium countdown calendars for birthdays and other occasions after their teenage daughter sparked an idea.
When Andrew and Charlotte Staal were asked by their teenage daughter while she was studying for her Business GCSE, “why don’t we have advent calendars for birthdays?”, they understandably didn’t have an answer at first – but after taking the idea and deciding it was a brilliant one, they got to work creating a unique concept that is already shaking up the UK gifting market.
SevenYays was officially launched this month after being in production and development during multiple national lockdowns over the past year.
Aiming to support independent British businesses with ethical and sustainable values, the new personalised gifting service allows shoppers to create customised countdown calendars for birthdays and other occasions, or chose from several ready-made boxes with themes including gin, wellbeing, and celebration.
You get to pick six small, high-quality gifts and one larger gift – known as the Seventh Yay – which are all wrapped up in plantet-friendly packaging and come alongside a card with a personalised message.
The boxes are sent to the recipient just in time for the countdown to their special occasion.
The gifts selection includes craft gins and rum, wellbeing products, high-quality beauty items, sleep masks, socks, books, and tech items.
Speaking on the launch of SevenYays, Charlotte Staal said: “Our daughter had to create a business idea for a GCSE project and when she asked us, “why don’t we have advent calendars for birthdays? We couldn’t answer, and the more we thought about it, the more we saw what a brilliant idea it was.
“We put our heads together as a family and talked it over.
“It seemed like the perfect fit for the current situation. With friends and loved ones stuck in lockdown, what better way to spread some joy? Then we got to work.”
“Right from the start of this journey, we knew we wanted to offer the very best gifts to customers,” Andrew Staal added.
“High-quality, fun, useful, but always with ethical and sustainable values a priority.” Our key
He continued: “There are so many amazing SMEs out there creating some wonderful gifts and incredible products [and] we can give them the opportunity to boost their brand and increase their sales – and bring some exciting new gifts to our customers.”
SevenYays launched on 1st June with 12 different pre-selected themed boxes and 130 different premium gifts to choose from in the create-your-own box option.
Prices start at £30 – and you can grab yours here.
Featured Image – SevenYays
Rio Ferdinand is helping change young lives with community programmes in Oldham and Salford
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and his foundation’s wonderful work is helping better the lives of young people in Oldham, Salford and across Manchester as a whole.
Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and The Guinness Partnership have been putting together a vital social initiative aimed at providing opportunities and resources to young people across Greater Manchester, helping them develop their skills and aspirations for future working life.
Now, after a hugely successful 12-month campaign, their skills and progression community programme, participants are well and truly starting to feel the impact, with 90% of those taking part now stating that they are enjoying a clear idea and focus on what they want to do for a career.
It may have be thriving in Salford and Oldham at the moment, but given the benefit the scheme has already had — not to mention the ambition the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has shown around various areas of the UK since being set up in 2012 — we can only see this spreading further across the region.
The skills-based initiative engages young people aged under 25 years old and living in Guinness homes in a six-month skills-based programme which has been up and running in the two Manc boroughs, as well as the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, since March 2022.
Young people from both Oldham and Salford take part in a weekly schedule of activities designed to tackle youth unemployment, including digital media training (photography, product design, filmmaking, podcasting), building and construction, CV workshops, mock interviews and more.
Not only do these shadowing opportunities garner confidence and raise aspirations among other young people in the local community, but they also help directly develop their employability skills via mentoring.
For instance, Matthew, 19 from Royton in Oldham, completed the programme and then was supported to apply to the Guinness Aspire Awards to request funding to purchase camera and lighting equipment to help him start a small local photography business. Quality stuff.
Matt says that the scheme “has been an amazing opportunity and has given [him] a chance to get back on the right path… I know what I want to do now and can’t wait to start… I would recommend that other people in my position get involved with it in the future.”
As well as markedly increasing participants health and well-being, all 100% of those involved across Salford and Oldham reported feeling more confident, with many now enjoying opportunities with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s partners such as Warner Music, Kiss FM, The Jockey Club and the Gym Group.
Speaking on the programme’s success, Rio himself said in a statement: “The Foundation is committed to working with young people at the heart of their communities to offer support, training, and opportunities to those that need it… engaging with the Guinness Partnership has provided a great boost to our reach and our work”.
Well in, Rio. Thankfully, he isn’t the only ex-Manchester-based footballer still trying to make a difference in the local community either:
Featured Image — Supplied/Rio Ferdinand (via Instagram)
Heritage railway arches in Manchester city centre to undergo £3.7m transformation by HOME arts centre
A section of the iconic railway arches along Whitworth Street is set to be refurbished into a brand-new development space for up-and-coming local artistsunder HOME.
Having existed as a recognisable part of the city’s rich transport and architectural heritage for as long as we can remember, three of the familiar archways situated on Whitworth Street West are now about to be given a new lease of life which will also help support Manchester’s beloved arts community.
Coming under the HOME theatre and arts umbrella with the work being carried out by the North West arm of Robertson Construction, the transformation is set to start fairly soon and is scheduled to be completed by May 2024.
Sitting between Whitworth Street West and HOME’s main arts building at Tony Wilson Place, which has been a popular cinema, gallery and restaurant since 2015, the new development centre will provide a space and vital resources for artists of all ages, disciplines and stages in their careers. Wonderful stuff.
Costing £3.7m, the goal of the ‘HOME Arches’ project is not only to give the Whitworth Street West Arches some much-needed TLC, but to help nurture, attract and retain creative talent in Manchester by providing them with a high-quality, low-cost rehearsal and training space.
Moreover, being connected to the ever-thriving First Street district will further strengthen it as a well-known and go-to city centre destination for artists and visitors alike.
Funding for the renovation was secured back in 2021 following a £2.3m government grant, with a further £0.9m contribution from Manchester City Council and around £0.5m from HOME themselves, who are helping cover some post-construction costs.
The Arches project is part of a wider £20m redevelopment plan under the national Levelling Up fund, with the bulk of the £17.5m scheme seeing the Upper Campfield and Lower Campfield Market buildings (both Grade II-listed structures) lovingly transformed into a new tech, media and creative industries hub.
Issuing a statement following the announcement, Director and CEO of HOME, Dave Moutrey said they are delighted to provide “meaningful, additional creative space for artists” and allow them to “grow the work that we do with artists in the North West, across theatre, film, visual art and digital works”.
As for the Council itself, leader Bev Craig said: “These arches are part of our heritage which have sat unloved and underused for many years. This scheme is bringing them back to life with a very modern purpose – complementing the thriving cultural economy in our city.
“Culture has a huge role to play in the success of our city and its people – creatively, for health and well-being and economically. This project will enhance this part of the city centre, create new jobs and further strengthen Manchester’s cultural ecosystem.”
We can’t wait to see how the new historic railway arches look under the loving stewardship of HOME and see the impact it makes on local creativity and culture.