A new charity initiative has been launched this week to help more than 50,000 families in need across Greater Manchester.
The Brick-by-Brick Project has been set up with support from Amazon, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Wigan-based charity The Brick, and it’s setting out to donate more than 400,000 surplus essential goods to over 50,000 families in need throughout the region this year.
With the rising cost of living crisis sadly continuing to make its impact felt nationwide, the Brick-by-Brick Project will work as a community donations hub, where Amazon and other local companies can donate a wide range of surplus products to.
While reducing waste and helping the community at the same time, the donated surplus products will then be distributed out to to people in need through a network of local charity groups and care professionals – including teachers, midwives, and social workers.
The launch of the initiative comes after it was revealed that, in February 2023, more than 32,500 people in Wigan, and the borough town of Leigh, were claiming Universal Credit, while 29 of the borough’s 200 neighbourhoods also all fall within the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in England, which makes up for roughly 15% of Wigan’s total population.
The Wigan project is an extension of the ‘multibank’ model first launched in Fife in Scotland as ‘The Big House’ in 2022, which has now supported 50,000 families in Fife, Edinburgh, and the Lothians.
The Brick-by-Brick Project will bring the knowledge and network of charity, The Brick, together with other local charities, logistics expertise, donations from Amazon, and product donations from other national and local retailers to “provide the right products at the right time”.
Suppliers and partners will provide products that “meet the particular needs of families in the area”.
Some of the essential surplus products set to be distributed include bedding, toiletries, nappies, wipes, clothing, backpacks, home furnishings, lightings, and electrical products.
Speaking on the launch of the project this week, Andy Burnham said: “Last year, Gordon Brown invited me to Fife to see for myself the work he was doing with Amazon and a local charity there to support thousands of families with essential household items.
“The project made a huge difference to people’s lives, and that’s why I was determined to work with Gordon and Amazon to set up a pilot in Greater Manchester, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the partnership with The Brick and I’m blown away by what has been achieved so far.
“Families in Wigan are struggling in this cost of living crisis and that is why this project is vital in helping those who need it most.
“During these difficult times, it’s right that the public, private and VCSE sector work together and do what we can to alleviate difficulties, and I congratulate all those involved in this, and look forward to it being rolled out elsewhere across Greater Manchester.”
Woman who ‘acted on instinct’ and talked young girl down from bridge recognised for bravery
A woman who “acted on instinct” and managed to talk a vulnerable young girl down from a bridge has been recognised for her bravery.
Caroline Bolton – who works in the Child Protection Investigation Unit at Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) South Manchester division – saved the life of a 17-year-old girl she found on the edge of a bridge above a motorway in Salford back in February of this year.
The young girl wanted to end her life, but Caroline – who was off duty at the time, and on her way home after a shift – spent 20 minutes talking to her and reassuring her.
And when the girl agreed to step down from the bridge, Caroline showed true selflessness and bravery “without any regard for her own safety” to put her arms around the teen to help her get back over the railings safely.
Caroline says she’s “surprised” to have been recognised for her actions, but GMP insisted that they “truly believe she made a brave decision which saved the life of a member of the public.”
“I’m so surprised to have been recognised for this because I know so many of my colleagues deal with incidents like this every single day,” Caroline explained.
“It was a really difficult situation and seeing her so distraught just broke my heart.
“The girl was getting closer to the edge, and I knew I had to act to help her, so I just went into autopilot. She wasn’t much younger than my boys, so I just spoke to her like a mum [and] when she got back over the railings, she gave me the biggest hug and I remember the sigh of relief from us both when we knew she was safe.”
Caroline said her main priority was to let the young girl know “she wasn’t in any trouble” and that “she was going to be okay”.
“There are options available out there for people who are struggling,” she added.
Speaking on Caroline’s recognition, and praising her for her bravery, GMP Chief Superintendent Rick Jackson said: “Caroline’s compassion and immediate response to a challenging situation has ultimately saved the life of a young girl in crisis. She was off duty at the time, she isn’t a trained police officer or negotiator, but Caroline acted with incredible calmness, professionalism, and integrity as a member of Greater Manchester Police staff.
“Caroline acted on instinct, and I truly believe she made a brave decision which saved the life of a member of the public.”
Featured Image – GMP
Are you struggling with your mental health?
If you or anyone you know is struggling right now, please know that you are never alone and there are many different places you can reach out to for support right here in Greater Manchester.
Suffering in silence never need be the way.
Manchester Mind – An organisation that has supported people in Manchester for over 30 years. Most services are now available over the phone, by email or video call. The number is 0161 769 5732 and the opening hours are Monday – Friday, 10am -2pm.
Andy’s Man Club – A group dedicated to starting conversations about mental health, assuring people that it’s ok to talk. You can contact them by email on: [email protected].
CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably supports people via phone and webchat. You can call 0800 58 58 58 or speak to a support worker online. Open 5pm – midnight.
Samaritans – The Manchester & Salford Samaritans offer emotional support by telephone and email. The phone lines and email support are available 24/7. Call 116 123 or visit the website.
TfGM confirms Metrolink strikes have been called off this weekend
Metrolink strikes that were planned across Greater Manchester this weekend have now been suspended, it has been confirmed.
With the tens of thousands of people heading to some of the biggest events in the city’s cultural calendar this weekend preparing for significant disruption due to planned industrial action on the Metrolink network, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Unite has now confirmed that these strikes have been called off.
Strike action was planned by Metrolink staff who are Unite members after the union said they “are angry” at only being offered a 5% increase on pay for a 15 month period, and proposed to move the annual pay anniversary date back from 1 January to 1 April.
Unite also said that starting salaries at Metrolink are “very low” – with tram inspectors starting from £20,000, drivers from £22,000, and engineers from £26,000.
TfGM had been warning that those making their way to major events, such as Courteeners and Parklife festival at Heaton Park, at Soccor Aid at Old Trafford, as well as to massive gigs the Etihad Stadium and AO Arena, should expect more disruption than normal over the weekend – with tram, bus, and rail services predicted to be “exceptionally busy”.
But now, it has been confirmed that strike action has been called off.
Metrolink said in a statement on its website: The Metrolink tram strike due to take place this weekend has been suspended, [and] services will now run as normal. If you have any queries, we will be available on Twitter from early doors until late in the evening.”
Talks between Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Unite have been taking place all week, and an improved – but undisclosed – pay offer was made yesterday, which will now be put to a vote by the the union’s members, with Mr Burnham taking to Twitter to explain: “I am pleased to say this weekend’s strike action on the Metrolink has been called off.
“I have been working to bring the two sides together and am grateful to Unite and KeolisAmey for reaching agreement on an improved offer that will now be put to members.
It is of course for Unite members to decide whether to accept this offer and we can’t pre-empt that, so strike action is therefore only suspended, but trams will be running this weekend and this is good news for everyone going to Parklife and other big events.”
Addressing the outcome of the talks and the proposed pay offer, Colin Hayden – Regional Officer at Unite – said in a statement: “Unite made it clear from the outset that Metrolink was fully able to make an improved offer and as a result of the intervention of the Mayor that has now occurred.
“Our members will now be balloted on the offer and they will decide if it meets their expectations.”
Despite the Metrolink strikes having been called off, TfGM is still advising that it’s “vital” for anyone heading to events this weekend to “plan ahead wherever and whenever you are travelling”.