A new anti-spiking partnership inspired by the students behind Manchester’s Girls Night In protest was announced by Andy Burnham and Sacha Lord as part of the city’s new Night Time Economy strategy yesterday.
The pair both met with local students last year after they organised a collective boycott of Manchester’s nightclubs in October, held in response to an alarming increase in reports of spiking – sometimes in drinks, sometimes, it was alleged, using a needle.
In that meeting, Manchester students put forward their own experiences of feeling unsafe and successfully persuaded the pair to adopt a new, zero-tolerance policy on spiking.
Now, six months later, it seems that that policy is coming to fruition.
Speaking to a packed room full of hospitality leaders from across the city and its ten boroughs on Thursday, Mr. Burnham officially announced the launch of the new anti-spiking partnership as part of Greater Manchester’s new Night Time Economy Strategy.
The mayor appealed to businesses to work alongside him to crack down on the harassment and abuse that has so often become a normal part of a night out, as he stressed that much more still needs to be done to enable people to feel safe – especially between the hours of 6pm and 6am.
He said: “Greater Manchester [is] pioneering a different conversation, particularly about women and girls’ safety out and about at night time because there is more to do on this.
“Sacha and I took a suggestion from students at the University of Manchester to bring through an anti-spiking partnership and you’ll see reference to that in the strategy being launched today.
“We’d like to work with more of you to build out the idea of that, whether we can provide more testing on sites, so that we can protect people who fear they may have been a victim in that way.
“That’s an important thing that we can do and we look forward to working with more of you on that.”
It was suggested, following that meeting with Manchester students last year, that the new anti-spiking strategy could see anti-spiking tests rolled out to venues – giving victims more surety in the moment that they have been spiked, as well as supporting as evidence of spiking if they choose to take the perpetrator to court at a later date.
However, that particular suggestion does not appear to have made it into the strategy – for now, at least, with Burnham seemingly appealing to venues to back the need for more on-site testing.
Still, there are some good processes being put in place to improve overall safety in the region.
By 2024, there is a plan to create more ‘safe haven’ spaces for people on a night out who may have had too much to drink, feel vulnerable, need someone to talk to, or even just need somewhere to charge their phone so they can get home safely.
Also, subject to funding, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will look to offer training to workers in the sector to better identify bad situations and help keep vulnerable people from coming to harm.
Mr. Burnham also touched on a campaign launched earlier this year, called ‘Is this ok?’ designed to make men in particular question how appropriate their ‘banter’ really is.
He said: “We are, if I’m being very direct, speaking to men, lads and boys in the city region in a way that we should have done in the past.
“We need to do much more going forward and that is to challenge behaviour that sometimes passes for what they call banter or something like that.
“[It] is fundamentally unacceptable and it’s about being clear about what we won’t accept anymore when it comes to women feeling intimidated or [being] harrassed when out and about in Greater Manchester.”
It’s a huge step in the right direction – and a clear sign that attitudes around the issue have undergone a major shift in recent years.
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.
Coins with King Charles III’s face on have officially entered circulation today
The Royal Mint has announced that the first coins to bear the effigy of King Charles III have officially entered circulation today.
In what marks the historic transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III on the public’s money, following the passing of the former back in September after 70 years on the throne, the first coins to bear The King’s portrait – are 50 pence pieces, and they will start to appear in circulation in Post Offices around the UK from today.
The coins not only bear The King’s face, but are also said to commemorate the life and legacy of the late monarch.
The reverse of the 50 pence features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown, and includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield, and in between each shield is an emblem of the home nations – a rose, a thistle, a shamrock, and a leek.
4.9 million 50 pence coins with King Charles III’s face on have been sent to UK Post Offices today.
The coin will first begin being distributing as change when customers make a purchase in store, The Royal Mint explains, before a total of 9.6 million 50ps eventually enter circulation in line with the public demand for them.
“Today marks a new era for UK coinage,” commented Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time. We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try and spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new King.
“The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the Monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.”
Also speaking as the coins enter circulation today, Nick Read – Chief Executive Office of the Post Office – said: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network.
“December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner.
“If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a Post Office, you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”
All approximately 27 billion UK coins with Queen Elizabeth II’s face on will remain legal tender and in active circulation, and will eventually be replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand for new coins.