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We Love MCR Charity grant awards - September 2022

Our Trustees award grants from our two core funds. The 'Stronger Communities Fund' (SCF), where we seek applications from community groups looking to make a difference in their area, and the 'Manchester's Rising Stars Fund' (MRSF) where we award grants supporting ambitious young Mancunians who can't rely on their family's finances to succeed. Here are some special projects and stories from September that we're excited to share!

Stronger Communities Fund

Total funding awarded: £24,849

Number of groups supported: 7

· Manchester Literature Festival (project in Hulme)

Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) are best known for their fantastic schedule of events they put on, as a celebration of imagination, stories, and voices from around the world. What is lesser known is their tireless work behind the scenes, hosting various workshops, tours and productions in local libraries and schools all year-round, to share the love of literature amongst all Mancunians and improve literacy in our city.

One of these projects is their “Little Reads” storytelling sessions, which use drama, songs and play to support language development with pre-school children. MLF successfully applied to our Stronger Communities Fund for £4,000 to help them bring two new monthly sessions to Z-Arts Children’s Library, bringing the joy of reading to even more families in Hulme and Moss Side. MLF projects always celebrate the diversity of our communities, and one of the sessions we’re funding is designed to give greater accessibility for children with special educational needs. The award will cover costs for accessible books, promotion, and enables 20 sessions to run from November 2022 to August 2023!

· Lips Inked Arts CIC (project in Levenshulme)

Lips Inked Arts (LIA) are a relatively new community arts organisation, based in Levenshulme Inspire Centre, that provides inspiring creative opportunities to underserved neighbourhoods across Manchester. They use music and other creative arts as a way to open conversations around wellbeing, whilst providing practical tools to support mental health with the activities they run.

LIA applied to us to fund their upcoming “Musical Minds” project, aimed at young people aged 8-14. LIA are working with local schools and expect to support at least 40 young people in the Levenshulme, Longsight & Gorton area, engaging them in arts activities focused on promoting a sense of connection and wellbeing through self-expression, and learning new skills. We awarded them £4,000 to cover workshop artists and venue hire for 12 weeks, with the project ending mid-December.

· The Widows Empowerment Trust (project in Blackley)

Widows Empowerment Trust (WET) are a community group who work in their local North Manchester communities to reduce the devastating impacts of loneliness and social isolation caused by bereavement, especially on our older neighbours. Following lockdown they have had a high demand for their services, and aim to hold weekly group sessions at St John Bosco Church Community Hall in Blackley.

These sessions are really well received, with a varied schedule including sewing, knitting, crocheting, bingo, cooking, baking and arts & crafts. WET plan to host up to 20 widows and widowers every Tuesday, and to engage 150 over the next 12 months. The £3,655 We Love MCR has awarded WET will cover craft supplies, sessional worker costs and rent for 40 weeks of sessions, and costs for their Christmas celebrations.

· Light In The Darkness CIC (project in Harpurhey)

Light In The Darkness (LitD) are a Community Interest Company founded by a former refugee, who has used her experience of the UK’s asylum system to bring light and hope to individuals and families going through crisis in that system. Refugees and asylum seekers routinely experience destitution and trauma in the process of trying to settle in a new home, with no recourse to public funds, so this work is incredibly important.

LitD’s work encompasses facilitating support groups, organising conferences to improve services in the system, providing emergency support such as food and accommodation, and helping to refer those in distress to appropriate mental health support. LitD applied to our SCF to deliver a six-month project around this work called “Seeking Asylum, Supporting Each Other”, for the benefit of asylum seekers who live in Manchester. We awarded them £4,000, which covers transport, stationery, refreshments, and costs for six months’ worth of these vital sessions.

· Coolshade Community Musical Workshop (project in Moston)

Coolshade is a youth club providing positive activities for young, disadvantaged people in Moston and the surrounding areas - particularly those who feel marginalised and are at risk of antisocial behaviour. Their members identify what they believe are priorities for them and their lives, then the youth club builds a structured programme of activities around that. This has led to young people setting up and leading their own activities in music, arts, drama, cooking, and digital fields!

Coolshade applied to our SCF for funds to deliver a music project called “Crime’s Not Cool”, which will run two nights a week for six months. Over 80+ young people aged between 10-19 are being targeted, some of those are at risk of disengaging with education or training and involved in crime already. The aims are to use music workshops, song production, recording and performances to build confidence, raise aspirations, and increase motivation, which resonated with our Trustees. We have awarded Coolshade £3,990 for the sessional and running costs of this long-term project and are excited to see the end product!

· Manchester’s Got Talent Communities (project is city-wide)

Manchester’s Got Talent Communities is a youth group set up to provide online services for young people during the first Covid-19 lockdown, as a response to the gap left by many youth services which couldn’t operate in that period. Since restrictions lifted, MGT Youth has built a community promoting and supporting over 50 young Mancunians whose talents range from performance art to entrepreneurship. Members are encouraged to get involved in local charitable work, go on activity days out, and also put on shows for causes important to their communities, such as one they put on for the 22nd anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s death.

They successfully applied to our SCF for £3,000 for costs to take 30 of their members aged 15-21 on a team-building residential alongside other Manchester youth groups, and art materials for the second part of the project. The experience of challenges and friendships they gain from this will result in a live event organised, performed, directed, filmed, and managed by the young people. We can’t wait to see it!

· The Orchard Project (project is city-wide)

Many trees get planted, but not all of them get looked after properly! The Orchard Project is a tree nurturing project that trains volunteers how to look after trees that have just been planted and aren’t established yet, ensuring they grow into maturity. The intervention of their workshops means these orchards get the care they need in the critical first few years of their lives, ensuring they establish well and flourish in the future.

The Orchard Project were awarded £3,250 to run five public orchard care workshops for open spaces in Manchester where there are young community orchards, training around 50-75 volunteers. This project will ensure there are more people with the skills and confidence to provide ongoing care for these and other community orchards within Manchester for years to come! The 5 projects will take place in:

- Delamere Park Orchard, Gorton M11 1JY

- Fallowfield Loop Orchard, Crayfield Road, M19 3NX

- Kenworthy Wood Orchard, Fairy Lane, M21 7PG

- Parkway Playing Fields Orchard, Newbrook Avenue, M21 7TP

- Platt Lane Orchard, Platt Lane, M14 7PY

Manchester's Rising Stars Fund

Total funding awarded: £19,703.22

Number of young people supported: 9

  • Kizzy

Kizzy is a brilliant young woman from Hulme, whose ambition of becoming a professional basketball player has been supported by We Love MCR since 2020 when she was just 16. Our support has seen her join Oaklands College, a specialist basketball institution, where her skills have been honed to the point that she is now representing Oaklands Wolves full-time in the top-flight Women’s British Basketball League! Kizzy is flying the flag for autistic and BAME women in British basketball, and we’re incredibly proud to see her continued progression.

Continued appearances in the WBBL will give her an even greater chance of securing a prestigious scholarship in the USA or Canada. However, as Kizzy has turned 18, she is no longer guaranteed campus accommodation funding and has to cover the rent herself. Kizzy is supported by her family as much as possible through Child Tax Credits, but the combined costs of living and travel are already a large burden for Kizzy and rent costs on top of those would make it impossible for her to stay at the college.

As a star student, Kizzy has won a scholarship to cover some of her rent. We have awarded Kizzy with £1,000 from the Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund to cover the rest of the cost of her place for a full 12 months, allowing her to focus on the development path she is on towards the elite level. The whole We Love MCR team hopes that the continued support we’ve given to this hugely talented Rising Star will give her every chance to reach her potential!

  • Obaid

Obaid is a gifted amateur boxer who, according to his Head Coach at Longsight Boxing Club, “has the aura of a champion” – high praise at the age of just 16. Praise that is well-deserved given that in the past 8 months Obaid fought in sixteen recognised bouts when most boxers at his level would be happy with 3 or 4, he represented the North-West England squad beating an Irish champion, and won the England Boxing recognised annual Hull Box Cup, with a technical knockout in the first round of the final!

This success comes from Obaid’s dedication, as well as his talent. He attends 9 training sessions a week at the Club that has helped him find his place in Manchester through boxing, after arriving as an unaccompanied asylum seeker from Afghanistan aged just 13. His foster carer and school have been as supportive as they can, but to progress in future official matches he needs AIBA verified boxing kit, and as a Looked After Child he doesn’t have access to the money needed for this.

Obaid successfully applied to our Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund for £520 to purchase the kit, gloves, shoes and headguard he needs to rise through the ranks and prove his potential as a champion in the ring!

  • Macy

Macy is a young woman with an ambition to both become a professional club DJ, and at the same time support more women to break into the DJ’ing industry. Macy has successfully hosted events around her home area of Hulme, and has been booked by city-centre venues, but she is facing barriers to her progress.

Experiences of sexism from men in the industry who question Macy’s ability are compounded by her equipment not being of the standard required for use in mainstream clubs. If Macy owned what she needs to get past these barriers, she’d be able to practice at home then play at any venue, and she’d be able to do even more mentoring with young women and girls whilst using the best equipment possible.

However, the equipment cost is far more than Macy can afford, with her only incomes being inconsistent DJ bookings and a zero-hours contract at a nursery. We awarded a grant of £4,238 to purchase a fully insured CDJ digital deck and a mixer. With this award, we’re sure to see Macy tearing up clubs and giving other aspiring Mancunian women DJs a role-model to learn from!

  • Ryan

Ryan is a hard-working young man from Wythenshawe, studying Zoology at MMU, who is starting a highly competitive work placement he earned at Blackpool Zoo. This is a huge opportunity for Ryan to achieve his future ambition to work in the preservation of endangered tropical amphibians and reptiles, stopping them being lost forever. However, this unique placement opportunity is unpaid, and he can’t cover the huge cost of a year’s rail fares from Wythenshawe to Blackpool.

Our Trustees were glad to support this young Mancunian to grab the opportunity with both hands, and awarded him £4,272 from our Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund for an annual train pass and workwear!

  • Farhad

Farhad is an 18yr old entrepreneur from Cheetham Hill, whose ambition is to provide for his family through his own freelance website design business. He’s been tinkering with computers from a young age, pulling apart games consoles to fix them, and that determination has seen him progress into his final year of a Level 3 IT Course at Bury College.

Farhad has shown great determination to make his career ambitions a reality, excelling in a young entrepreneurship project at Contact Theatre, and giving us a full business plan of his first steps towards a business of building websites for Greater Manchester sports clubs.

Farhad’s finances are limited due to his family situation and looking after younger siblings, so our Trustees were pleased to award £2,703.22 for items his referee agreed are necessary to kickstart his journey. This includes a good-quality second-hand computer he sourced himself, design software subscriptions, website hosting, domain registration, flyers, and business cards that will give him every chance his potential deserves!

  • Courtney

Courtney is an aspiring data analyst who will finish her Digital Business Studies Level 3 course at The Manchester College this academic year, and plans to continue studying at university if she gets the results she needs. Courtney has been supported through her journey by the Manchester Foyer, where she is currently staying due to being estranged from her family at a very young age. With that support and her own determination Courtney is flourishing, despite not having access to her own equipment.

Courtney budgets really well on her Universal Credit payments, but this leaves no room for anything but essential purchases. She applied to the MRSF for £998 for an iPad air and keyboard, purposefully lightweight items on account of limitations from corrective spine surgery. We Love MCR’s Trustees awarded Courtney these items, and we look forward to seeing her excel in her field!

  • Lena

Lena is an 18yr old from Chorlton Park who aims to succeed in the field of computer science. A realistic aim, having already gained a place to study the subject at MMU where she starts this year. Lena has worked incredibly hard to get to this point in her studies.

Sharing a computer at home with her eight siblings and also being dyslexic have been difficulties she has worked past to earn her place in university. We awarded Lena the £1,349 she applied for, covering the cost of a top-quality laptop which allows her to complete work, research, and support her development in becoming a successful computer scientist.


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