Hundreds gathered in St Peter’s Square last night to protest against the rise in drink spiking in Manchester and across the UK.
On what is typically the biggest day of the week for student nights out, rafts of young people chose to boycott nightclubs on Wednesday night and instead take to city centre hubs up and down the UK to stand in solidarity and demand that drink spiking and needle spiking be taken seriously by authorities amid a recent rise in incidents.
Manchester’s ‘End Spiking Now’ demo last night was called for by local groups under the initiative ‘Girls Night In‘, and the boycott was part of UK-wide protests against spiking in clubs and bars.
Opening the Manchester demonstration in front of at least 1,000 young people, according to The Guardian, 21-year-old student Lucy Nichols declared “an emergency response to an emergency situation”, explaining that there is a “spiking epidemic” sweeping the UK and adding that: “Every single women here will have a story about them or one of their friends being spiked.
“Now we can’t even do the age-old trick of covering up our drinks, because they are spiking us with needles now too.”
Striking images from last night’s demonstrations were shared on social media.
Photos shared to social media showed demonstrators holding up banners with a wide range of phrases and rallying cries, including one that said “The only injection I want is Pfizer!” and another saying “Pankhurst would be PISSED” close to the statue of the Mancunian suffragette in St Peter’s Square.
“I have never felt safe”, “Educate your sons”, and “Stop spiking us you freaks” were more examples of banners to sum up why the demonstrations are taking place.
Following the gathering and collection of speakers in St Peter’s Square, in a defiant stance, one of the organisers encouraged the crowd to walk with them through the streets of the city centre.
They began walking down Oxford Road, chanting: “Whose streets? Our streets”.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham was also in attendance at the protest last night, alongside Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser and co-founder of the Warehouse Project, Sacha Lord.
Helen Pidd – The Guardian’s North of England Editor – explained that she spoke to the mayor following the protest last night, and relayed in a tweet that he said: “This one is on us: men, lads, boys.
“That might mean calling out mates for their behaviour or it might mean changing our own behaviour.”
Sacha Lord also said on Twitter this morning: “Last night, myself and Andy Burnham attended the boycott to show support and listen. We will continue to meet and work with the organisers and I’d urge other city regions to do so too.
“The message is clear – enough is enough.”
A number of nightclubs in Manchester city centre – including student hotspots 42nd Street and The Venue – announced ahead of the boycotts and demonstrations last night that they would be closing doors to show support.
As well as organising the boycott and last night’s demonstrations, women have launched a petition calling on the government to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry.
Protestors in Manchester have also penned an open letter to Andy Burnham and other leaders at Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) setting out demands, including that GMCA provides bars and nightclubs with anti-spiking devices, enforce more staff training, and create a toolkit for women detailing measures venues should have in place in order to be licensed.
The group would also like to see designated employees on hand to deal with problems of spiking and harassment, as well as for venues to produce their own clear procedures on how to deal with such incidents.
The key focus is for women’s safety to be made more of a priority and for this to be clear to both staff and customers who are visiting any venue in Manchester.
Sacha Lord launches Christmas campaign to rescue Manchester hospitality businesses
Manchester’s Night Time Economy Advisor Sacha Lord has today launched a Christmas campaign to help save local hospitality businesses.
With rocketing energy bills and food prices caused by inflation compounded by two years of closures during the height of the pandemic, many bars and restaurants have already closed their doors – and more are warning that they are on the brink of following suit.
In response, Manchester’s night tzar and Warehouse Project founder Sacha Lord has launched a new campaign that he hopes will encourage people to put money back into their favourite pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes this Christmas.
Working alongside hospitality businesses from across the Greater Manchester region, his team has coordinated a new campaign that will see people encouraged to buy vouchers for local Manchester businesses as Christmas presents this year.
These vouchers can then be redeemed over the Christmas season or during the quieter winter months, bringing much-needed revenue into an industry that is currently in dire straits.
Sacha Lord, the city-region’s Night Time Economy Adviser, said: “Treating loved ones to a night out not only gives them memories to cherish, but will go a long way in supporting local landlords and independent venues across Greater Manchester.
“We all know the difficulties that our favourite restaurants, bars, theatres and hotels are going through, and January is always the bleakest time of the year for the sector.
“Not only is footfall typically down as people choose to save and stay indoors, but as a result staff often find they aren’t booked for as many shifts as normal.
“By buying a voucher or putting a deposit down now, we can support the sector through the difficult post-Christmas period, and move away from gifting presents that just sit unwanted in the cupboard.
“What better way to help your favourite venue, and the local workforce, than gifting a loved one an evening out this Christmas.”
Venues confirmed as taking part so far include Hawksmoor, Platzki, Cane & Grain, Abeja Tapas Bar in Stockport and Cocoa Cabana Chocolatiers in Ancoats and Didsbury.
Further businesses taking part include Alex’s Bakery, The Barking Dog Urmston, Atlas Bar, Three Little Words, Albert’s Schloss, Calcio! sports bar, 53Two, Riva Altrincham, A Tavola Gastronomia Siciliana in High Peak, WOOD Manchester and Con Club in Altrincham.
A number of cultural institutions are also getting involved, from The Royal Exchange and The Palace Theatre, to The Opera House and The Stoller Hall all contributing vouchers to the scheme. More are set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Feature image – Sacha Lord / Darren Robinson Photography
Bundobust launches new Christmas menu with sprout bhaji butties
If Bundobust can’t make you eat your sprouts then we’re not sure who can. The Manchester restaurant has just launched a new Christmas menu featuring sprout bhajis – and it’s exquisite.
We loved Bundobust at any time of the year, but when we heard that they were making mince pie parathas and gingerbread ale for the occasion we knew that we had to get ourselves down asap.
Putting a seasonal twist on their brilliant Indian street food dishes, the infamous sprout bhajis make a triumphant return atop a spiced cranberry chutney – giving new life to the celebrated (if somewhat misunderstood) seasonal vegetable.
Fans of the Christmas sarnie can also opt for the sprout bhaji butty, a crispy sprout bhaji patty with salad, spiced cranberry and green chutneys. Even better, £1 from every sprout bhaji butty sold will go towards the #CookForUkraine charity initiative, reports The Hoot.
Elsewhere, you’ll find festive dahl with rice: a warming and smoky Christmas take on Dal Makhani boosted with black cardamom, clove and cinnamon that feels like a hug in a bowl.
The beloved biryani balls are also back for 2022, pairing India’s celebratory dish, Biryani, with the party buffet snackability of arancini. A match made in heaven, right? Spiced with mint, saffron, ginger, nutmeg and rose, served in a rich tomato sauce crowned with crispy onions, we’re sure these are going to be flying off the shelves.
As for the mince pie parathas, what to say? A new addition this year, these are a perfect sweet-savoury flavour bomb stuffed with sultana, raisin, cinnamon, clove, star anise and coconut. We ordered them with the signature house paneer and made ourselves little festive wraps – a trick we highly recommend you try for yourselves.
And of course, you’ll need something to wash all the delicious food down with, and it wouldn’t be Bundobust without beer. So from 21 November, you’ll be able to grab a pint of Bundobust Brewery’s AADU – a limited edition 5.8% Gingerbread Wheat Beer.