A hostel for homeless men in Greater Manchester has been saved from closure thanks to a company sales boss and his 70-year-old pal.
And it’s safe to say that Damian Ditchfield and Ken Jackson are now the toast of the Manchester charity Supporting People In Need (SPIN) after their hard work and the labour of love that went towards saving the organisation’s base.
SPIN is based at the converted Coverdale Baptist Church in Ardwick, which is known as ‘The Well’.
The charity provided dormitory accommodation for rough sleepers since opening its doors in 2014, and in addition to shelter and food, it also provides training and support to help its residents rebuild their lives, but when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, SPIN was told by Manchester City Council officials that each resident had to have their own living space due to the need for social distancing.
Tom Herstell – Operations Manager at SPIN, whose father and uncle founded the charity – said the organisation was told that council funding would cease unless it could comply.
That would thus have forced the closure of the hostel.
But that’s when Damian, 53 – a sales manager at Stockport-based bus and coach hire company Belle Vue Manchester – stepped in with Ken – a retired building site manager and qualified joiner who lives in Carrbrook, Stalybridge – to lend a much needed hand.
The kind-hearted duo voluntarily set about converting the open space in the church hall into 19 separate timber-framed bedrooms, enabling SPIN to survive.
Ken also called on building trade contacts who gave materials free of charge for the seven-week project, and Damian, who was on furlough leave from his job, made a 50-mile round trip to The Well every day from his home in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire.
Speaking about how he got involved with the project, Damian said: “Ken is good friends with Diane Lawler, who was working at The Well as a manager, and he had done a couple of jobs for her in the past [and] it was following a conversation between them that the mission was launched.
“When Ken heard about the charity’s plight, he didn’t want to ignore it.
“His previous experience meant he had the expertise to do the work and I offered my support so he was assured of meeting the deadline set by the council. We did all the joinery and plastering and were grateful to Irmass Co timber merchants in Trafford Park and P&L Joinery in Stockport for supplying materials at no cost.
“Without their generosity, the project would have been unaffordable for SPIN.
“A qualified electrician took care of the electrics, and we did everything else.
“As well as the new bedrooms, we also built a new food storage area and offices with a mezzanine floor which is used as a training area.”
Damian – who is also a part-time DJ and during lockdown has raised hundreds of pounds for food poverty relief charity FareShare UK by streaming gigs on Facebook, which have been enjoyed by families and housemates across the UK, in Europe and as far away as Australia, in return for donations to the charity – said “it was an absolute pleasure to be involved” in the SPIN project.
He continued: “It was good for my soul. We spend our lives taking, and it was great to give back to society. The people at SPIN really appreciated it. Ken is one of my closest friends and he’s got such a big heart and generous approach to life.
“He’ll help out with anything and I was only too pleased to work with him for a good cause.”
Tom Herstell added: “We had 12 to a dormitory before COVID-19 struck and were told we would not receive any further funding from the council if we couldn’t offer single bedrooms. We weren’t expecting to be able to do the work [which is why] Damian and Ken have truly saved the charity and we really appreciate their efforts.
“It was a fantastic gesture by them and we are grateful to everyone who donated materials.”
Supporting People In Need (SPIN) is now accepting donations for Christmas of items including men’s clothes, tinned food and toiletries.
You can find more information via the SPIN website here.
Horror film due to be released in the UK this week is so scary it’s triggered Apple Watch high heart rate alerts
A film that’s been labelled a ‘horror nightmare’ is set to make its big screen premiere in the UK this week.
The Outwaters has been disturbing audiences across the USA with its ‘found footage’ format, which follows four travellers as they encounter a menacing phenomena while camping in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert.
Cinema-goers have reported extreme reactions, like having to leave screenings to vomit and also smart watch heart rate monitors showing alerts.
One scary movie fan said it ‘more effectively scares me than anything I’ve ever seen’.
Another labelled it ‘Goddamn terrifying stuff’.
One person said: “I’m still processing #TheOutwaters. I am not sure if it worked for me. The sounding made me so uncomfortably dizzy that I had to leave the theatre to vomit. This never happened to me before. It’s more disturbing than scary if that makes any sense.”
Another said: “@TheOutwaters has solidified my opinion that I believe this to have one of the most horrific and traumatizing sequences i’ve ever experienced in a found footage horror film.”
One review reads: “the outwaters is possibly the most upsetting movie i’ve ever watched. and i mean that as a compliment.”
One more said: “The Outwaters may be my new favorite horror movie, highly recommend if you’re into weird f*cked up shit.”
Someone else posted: “Watched The Outwaters the other day and immediately fell in love – it’s the kind of mind-bending indie horror nightmare I’m constantly looking for, just unfiltered awesome creativity firing on all cylinders. Major props to everyone in front of and behind the camera, I loved it!”
And one person described it as a ‘surreal blood soaked mindf*ck through hell’.
Now, The Outwaters Twitter account has confirmed that the film will be streaming in UK cinemas from 7 April.
Screenings may be few and far between to start with, but horror fans, this looks to be one well worth seeking out.
Chris Pine is an American actor best known for his roles as Jamie T. Kirk in Star Trek, Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman and Lord Devereaux in The Princess Diaries 2.
Appearing on Capital FM’s breakfast show this morning with Roman Kemp, Sian Welby and Chris Stark, Pine reminisced on his days studying in Yorkshire.
Kemp kicked off the show with “It’s Capital Breakfast and this morning we are joined by probably the only Hollywood A-lister to attend Leeds university.”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to check the alumni book but I’m pretty sure that’s probably accurate” the actor admitted.
Pine explains that he studied in Leeds for one year as an exchange student, when he was just 19 years old.
Chris Stark quickly jumped in to ask Chris about the iconic Leeds student pub crawl, The Otley Run, and whether or not he’d done it as a young undergraduate.
“I don’t remember much of it but yes I have done it.”
“Do you remember what you wore?” Stark responds.
“No I don’t, I remember…nothing.”
He admits that although the crawl consists of 18 bars, he himself has never made it to each one.
He continues to explain that although he now lives in sunny California and has done for most of his life, he in fact lived in the UK for a total of four years between the ages of 29 and 40.
“There’s so much Hollywood work over here but I have yet to go back to Leeds.
“I have all these memories. I lived on Brudenell road and I can see the market across the street and I know the walk to school and the great old cinema on the corner of Brudenell and Hyde Park. I just have these images of school there.”
So next time you’re wondering down Brudenell Road or catching a flick at Hyde Park Picture House, just know that those hallowed halls were once home to Hollywood royalty.
And who knows, Pine might be hopping on a plane to Leeds Bradford airport after being reminded of such happier times – so make sure to keep an eye out.