Have you noticed that a handful of colourful new benches have popped up across Salford over the past couple of days?
Been wondering where they’ve come from? Keen to know what the story is behind them?
Of course, benches are not something the residents and locals of Salford would usually bat an eyelid at considering there are so many dotted all around the borough, but it’s fair to say that these 20 colourful new additions that have been cleverly-designed to resemble the shape of a book, and are inspired by a range of different themes, are worth stopping to take a closer look at.
The new ‘BookBench’ sculptures are actually part of the first-ever Salford Literacy Trail – which began last week and will be running up until 9 September 2022.
Wild in Art famously brought the popular Bee in the City art trail to Manchester back in 2018, and has a number of other award-winning art trails to its name.
Artists worked with children from 20 different primary schools across Salford to design benches that capture how their favourite books inspire make them feel.
The BookBenches have placed at key locations across Salford, including near the Blue Peter Garden, around MediaCity, and at Salford Cathedral, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, RHS Bridgewater, and Salford Shopping Centre, for families to explore their local area, discover the benefits and joys of reading, and engage with stories together.
As you make your way around the trail, you will been able to find inspiration from the children’s favourite books, inlcuding The Boy Who Grew Dragons, Macbeth, The Memory Tree, and the absolute classic that is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The project is said to have been designed to “inspire a love of reading”, with each BookBench providing “a blank canvas for children’s creativity”, according to trail organisers.
The trail also aims to raise awareness of the positive links between reading and mental wellbeing, as research from the National Literacy Trust shows that children who are the most engaged with literacy are three-times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than their least engaged peers.
“We want to create an environment where every child in Salford has the opportunity to engage with stories and books that reflect their lives, offer them comfort, or an exciting escape,” said Mike Leyland – the National Literacy Trust’s Programme Manager for Salford Literacy Trail.
“We hope that the Salford Literacy Trail starts conversations in families, at schools and in communities about stories that have affected them, or that have shown them a different view on life, and encourages an even greater love of reading in everyone who takes part.”
Each BookBench has been individually-sponsored by local businesses.
These sponsorships, alongside the BookBench auction in the autumn, will raise vital funds for the National Literacy Trust to help it “champion reading” with local disadvantaged children.
There is a downloadable map available online, along with fun activities for kids to inspire them with the magic of stories, and you can find out more about the Salford Literacy Trail 2022 on the trail’s website here.
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)
Historic Salford boozer The Crescent where Karl Marx drank set to reopen
A boarded-up boozer in Salford that was once a favourite haunt of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is set to reopen after six years of closure.
The Grade-II listed building – a place where The Communist Manifesto co-authors regularly supped as they dreamt up the now-infamous 19th-century text – is now set for a new lease of life, with its faded green facade and boarded-up windows set to be restored once more.
Most recently known as The Crescent pub, the boozer closed in 2017 and has been left to decay in that time. Its exterior is covered in graffiti, and its roof is thought to be in a poor state.
Two years ago its Chinese owners revealed plans to bring the boozer back to life, and now appear to be making slow progress after new scaffolding was spotted going up outside the derelict public house last week.
As part of the refurb, owners plan to construct a new building at the pub’s rear and return it to its original name: The Red Dragon. Further plans for the site will also see it make the most of its fabled role in the creation of the legendary academic text.
A spokesman for the owners told the Manchester Evening News: “We have been in discussion with Salford council for a while. We are now getting close to submitting a formal planning application. We have a further meeting with them in two weeks time
“In the meantime we are to carry out essential repairs on the building, which do not need listed building consent, so it is watertight, including a new roof. The scaffolding will be up for 18 months. The intention is to return to pub to a traditional style – it had become a 1990s-style student pub.
“The pub will be filled with memorablia linked to Marx and Engels who are thought to have used it, and the history of Salford. There will be no new-build extensions to the pub – it will be a refurbishment of the existing building, and we aim to retain some existing features. We are pleased to be able to say that real progress is being made.”
“There is a possibility that the new building could be an apart hotel and we have held talks with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford. If a lecturer, for example required accommodation for a short period, they might use it. “