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Liverpool Life









Changing children’s lives in Vietnam > From backpacking to building ‘the best special school’ in South East Asia

> LJMU Film Maker Documentary: p18-19




4&5 - Band Aid Liverpool 6 - Hitting right note for charity 7- Domestic violence shock 8&9 - Liverpool out of lockdown 10 - Christmas card competition 11- Christmas book fund-raiser



LIFE 12&13 - Picturesque Christmas Lights 14&15- Local for Christmas gift 16 - Community food for thought 17 - Money raised to fund for men’s mental health



ARTS/FOCUS 18&19 - LJMU Film Maker’s travel



21 - LJMU Costa Book nomination 22 - Opinion: Speaking of diversity 23 - FA Cup delight for Marine FC

Welcome to the last Liverpool Life magazine edition of the year. What a year 2020 has been. It has been the year that nobody expected with everyday life being so different to what everybody can ever imagine. I do hope we have done our bit to entertain those reading the magazine over the course of three months. To the final edition of the year, we have a number of cracking stories for you guys to read and enjoy. We have so many great pieces from Band Aid Liverpool, Liverpool out of lockdown, to the Christmas lights and

For one final time this year... even on Marine’s third round FA Cup draw for all you footie fans. I would like to thank all the reporters who have written for this week’s edition including Isi Cairns, Eleanor Dowd, Toni Brown, Beth Harwood, Reece Pape, Aidan Crisp, Ruairi Walsh, Charlie Lau, Tallulah Suleman and the rest of the crew. I want to say thank you most importantly to you, the readers. As the Christmas begins, many of the

reporters will be going back home to various parts of the UK and even different parts of the world to spend time with our families. We won’t be back until February so on behalf of everyone at the LL Magazine I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. We hope the coming year is better than the last, and we will be back in February. David Diangienda, Designer



Tony Cook, director (left), Brian Ambrose, producer (right) © Hayley Blackledge Photography



By TONI BROWN Liverpool musician had a dream, during lockdown, that he was standing on stage, performing with fellow musicians from the city. He made it his mission to make this reality and also raise money for homeless people in Merseyside and the idea for Band Aid Liverpool was born. Tony Cook, the keyboard player from the tribute band the Mersey Beatles, came up with the concept of a new version of the famous charity fundraising song this summer. Like many musicians, Tony spent months of lockdown without any work and so started the project to give musicians in the area a project to focus on and brought in his fellow bandmate Brian Ambrose, the drummer from the band. Tony, who is the Director of Band Aid Liverpool, said: “In August I had a dream that I was on stage with my band and other musician friends from around Liverpool. “We were all on stage performing and I woke up thinking ‘Wow, imagine if that was true’. So, I’ve just developed the idea through September and I decided to go with the Band Aid idea. I asked many artists from around Liverpool and it was a resounding ‘Yes!’” He had also noticed the lack of homeless people in the city centre, normally a common sight, especially


as Christmas closes in. With the lack of shops, comes fewer people, so the homeless were not getting any change or help from the public. That thought stuck with Tony, which was why he chose Shelter to be the charity that benefited from the single. Shelter is a very relevant charity for those who have suffered at the hands of the pandemic as so many people have lost their jobs this year and so they may need that help at some point. The original plan was to put out a music video on social media and just give people the option to donate. But, in a radio interview, the host suggested they bring it out as a single. They are hoping that this will reach a wider audience and in turn raise even more money for Shelter. He said: “There are so many people outside of Liverpool that want to buy it already and blast it on their radio stations all around the country! “If the city gets behind it, we could go high in the charts. Wouldn’t it be a dream for the people of Liverpool to have a Christmas number one? “I think that would be an incredible achievement. On Christmas Day when the number one is announced, wouldn’t it be great for people to be sat around their tables having Christmas dinner when the Top of the Pops comes on and we are number one? That’d be an absolute dream come true!”

Tony approached Warner, the original publishers, who gave them their approval and they also received approval from the writers of the original 1984 hit, Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. The original Band Aid was founded to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia. The BBC showed images of hundred of thousands of people starving to death in Ethiopia. A young nurse, Claire Bertschinger, was surrounded by 85,000 starving people and she had to decide who lived and died. This report was their inspiration for writing and releasing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” on December 7, 1984. It became the Christmas number one and stayed there for five weeks in the UK. Selling over two million copies around the world, it was the fastest selling single ever and raised £8m.


he following year, Bob Geldof staged a huge concert to raise further funds for Ethiopia. In the end, they raised £40m; half of the money was spent on food and the other half on longer-term development. To fit the new theme of homelessness in and around Liverpool, and their chosen charity, Tony changed two lines of the song. He replaced: “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time” with “There won’t be homes on

Merseyside this Christmas time” and “Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow” with “on the streets their numbers grow, no place for them to go.” He said: “When I said that I was waiting for the approval from Warner, that was my main concern really


Band Aid Liverpool will be hoping to recapture the same spirit as the original Band Aid, 36 years on

IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME because they have rejected numerous versions of it, but they came back with absolute approval. “They said it was a great concept, a great idea and they loved the way we’ve changed the lyrics of two lines. I think if we’d have changed too many lines it probably would have

been rejected. Everything else in the song relates to the same idea of poverty, so I’m glad I’ve done it now.” Tony and Brian brought together (virtually!) over 70 musicians from across Merseyside, after they were inundated with requests to join the project. They have tried to cover as many genres and age groups as possible, including children up to a couple of Mersey Beat legends like Billy Kinsley and Earl Preston. Tony, said: “All of these artists have done this for free and we want to give a little bit of hope for the people of Liverpool and a smile this Christmas because everyone has been devastated this year. The single, which is a recreation of Band Aid 20, will be released officially on December 10, but it was first aired on the Radio on Monday (November 30). It will be playing in over 5,000 stores across the UK as the Christmas shopping commences. Liverpool Life was lucky enough to have an exclusive viewing of the official music video, which will be released a few days after the single. Tony added: “It won’t be the same this year all around the country. If this single can show the world that Liverpool is the beam of light that it always has been; showing our musical heritage and how powerful the people of Liverpool can be, it’d be great, that.”

Bill Kinsley, featured artist on the track ©The Fest for Beatles fans



TEAMWORK: Jenny, left, and Cassandra share a light-hearted moment

Sounds like magic Group releases second charity track in lockdown


Southport music group have teamed up with Liverpool Lighthouse, a non-for-profit music and arts centre, to release their second charity single of the year. ‘Play That Song To Me’ is set to be released next month, with all the royalties going to Help Musicians UK. The Rainbow Collective have chosen Help Musicians for their recent single because of the financial hardship inflicted, particularly on musicians, during the pandemic. Founders of The Rainbow Collective Jenny Wren and Cassandra Kotchie are both musicians, so the plight of performers hit close to home. They both spoke about how this time the pressure is on with people eager to hear the new single. Cassandra said: “What we’ve found so far is that people are liking this song more. “We’re quite excited, and since we have a bit of a following now there is a little bit of pressure, but I think we’re more excited than anything.” The Rainbow Collective had massive success earlier in the year during lockdown when they released ‘Pass On The Rainbow’, raising more than £1,000 for the NHS and reaching number 46 in the iTunes charts. The success of the group’s previous single has also added to their reputation, meaning bigger musicians are


By BEN ROBERTS-HASLAM enthusiastic to get involved. “The standard and the talents that are on this is just fantastic. We have Susan Lambert the harpist, Mike Smith and Jamie Brownfield from the air horns, and just really well-known musicians from Liverpool and the North West,” Jenny said. Putting together one single during lockdown is tough, let alone two, with the musicians recording from home. This has hindered the scale that the duo wanted, but has also proven the ability of many. One stand-out has been Tom Percy, the producer and engineer working behind the scenes to make sure the record is as smooth as possible. The improvisation and creativity from all the musicians also seems to

SOUNDS: Musicians performing virtually at Liverpool Lighthouse have added to the excitement around the song. Jenny said: “When you go into a studio, they will set all the levels, but everyone is doing it from home so they’re coming in all different and all over the place. “If it is video even the lighting will be different. It has impeded us definitely but also makes it really interesting. People have had to be creative on their own without an awful lot of guidance from us.”

She added: “We have guidance for musicians and said what we want in terms of arrangements, specifically with strings, with Cass writing all of the string arrangements, but the rest of them have done their own arrangements for their parts. “That’s what makes it really exciting because you don’t know what’s going to come in. “They’ll upload it to a drive, and we’ll have a listen. It happened with the harp the other day - it’s magic.”

There is a little bit of pressure, but we’re more excited than anything



You are not alone

A Liverpool domestic violence charity is reporting a doubling of demand during the lockdown, reports RUAIRI WALSH


his year has seen a rise in cases of domestic violence across the UK. Nationally, the police have reported more than a quarter of a million cases of domestic violence between March and June – a 7% rise on last year’s figures. This represented roughly one in five of all criminal offences in this time. As well as this, in the first three months of lockdown more than 40,000 calls and contacts were made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, mostly by women seeking help. In June, calls and contacts were nearly 80% higher than usual, says the charity Refuge, which runs the helpline. This disturbing trend has also affected Liverpool, according to Director of Policy and Development at Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service, Caroline Grant. She said: “During the period April to September, we as a service have supported 1575 survivors. In the whole of 2019, we supported 1500. As you can see this has led to general increase in support need of 100%.” This rush for demand is also complicated by the Covid-19 guidelines that have to be followed. “We have maintained a full-service delivery, albeit delivered in a different format. We have been and are fully accessible to any survivor who may need support,” said Caroline Grant. “We’re still delivering online

group-based support and wellbeing sessions, telephone support, counselling has been delivered via telephone as well as strategic institutional local and national advocacy for those we support. We have, however, moved to deliver safely face to face working practice in line with government advice. The achievements of Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service are even more remarkable considering funding is based on donations. “We get very little to deliver our service from any local or government funding and rely on donations to deliver our much needed service,” she added. This hasn’t stopped them teaming up with Tesco and Jacks to make sure that survivors can access electronic devices and get help. Caroline said: “That means they are able to access support and do not face technological barriers. We have been given phones/ tablets to distribute. We have additionally been given packages for personal care for survivors, who often are not able to prioritise their own needs, from Jacks.” During lockdown the government announced about £30m in extra funding to tackle domestic abuse, but according to Caroline more needs to be done and there needs to be “a review locally and nationally on the true impact of domestic abuse and (investment) in coordinated responses that are adequately funded.”

IF YOU THINK A LOVED ONE IS SUFFERING FROM DOMESTIC ABUSE Do not tell them what to do or tell them to leave. Believe them. Validate what they are telling you. For example, ‘I’m really glad you told me,’ ‘this isn’t your fault,’ ‘you are not alone’. Ask them what they need and be guided by them. The survivor is always the expert in their own lives. It is important to be patient and allow them to set the pace. If possible, share information about how to get specialist support. If possible, offer to keep in touch by phone or online, and ask them the safest way to do this. If you have an established and trusting relationship with the survivor - you can discuss a code word with them. This code word can be used if they need you to call the police on their behalf. Call 999 if it is an emergency and someone is in immediate danger

The impact of Covid-19 has put pressure on families and support services ©unsplash.com




Liverpool’s restrictions have eased in time for the holidays. So, what do we do now?


By REECE PAPE ith national lockdown ending this week, Liverpool will be entering Tier 2 of the government’s new regime to tackle COVID-19. What this means is that, fortunately, the city has managed to avoid the harshest limitations; a significant contrast to October, when it was cited as being one of the areas with the highest levels of infection. Whilst across all tiers everyone must abide by social distancing rules, wear a face-covering in most indoor settings (barring a valid excuse, of course), and avoid public transport where possible, in Tier 2 there are some nostalgic activities from pre-COVID life that you are allowed to engage in. Liverpool is waking up to a new, slightly easier way of life today. Firstly, though there is still a ban on mixing indoors with those outside of your household and support bubbles, you can actually meet up with other people. The only downside being that it is only allowed in an outdoor setting, with the rule of six still in place. Some, though, are just happy to be able to meet up at all. Local resident Liam Walsh said: “I’ve gotten sick of just seeing the same people all the time, in all honesty. “Obviously, I love everyone I live with, but it’ll be nice to be able to sit somewhere with my mates and get some drinks in or something.” The drinks will have to come with a very large side of chips because whilst non-food serving pubs and bars (as well as nightclubs) will remain closed in the city, hospitality venues serving alcohol can only do so provided they can offer a ‘substantial’ meal alongside it. Unfortunately, still no late nights downing tangy cocktails and sending embarrassing texts to your nan either, as these establishments must also call final orders by 10pm and close by 11pm. Nobody is stopping you from


doing this at home though. If your personality isn’t completely defined by the beverages you drink, there’s still loads on offer entertainment-wise. Cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, and (the one we’ve been waiting for!) bingo halls are all back open, again with 11pm closures. One such theatre, Storyhouse in Chester, have announced their adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be performed from December 2 until January 17, with priority booking for those in Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington. The show will play to around 200 people per night around the theatre’s thrust stage - 40% of normal capacity - to allow for social distancing and will run without an interval to avoid toilet queues. Andrew Bentley, CEO of the Storyhouse, said: “It’s our privilege and our joy to be staging a show this Christmas, we are one of the lucky ones. Storyhouse was the country’s first theatre to open after lockdown and we learnt a lot about staging shows in this climate, in the summer, with a 33-date run of A Comedy of Errors. “That performance sold out in a week and we know how much a little taste of normal means to the country. We’re proud to be playing our part. Bring on the tinsel!” Speaking of tinsel, do you need to buy some? No more sitting inside waiting on Amazon to deliver it, you can pick it up yourself! All essential and non-essential shops are back open this week, putting Christmas shopping back on the table. Samantha Jones, of Toxteth, said: “It sounds proper funny, but it’s just a slice of normality that I miss. Like, just going the shop and picking up something that isn’t a loaf or anything like that. “It just sounds so relaxing, and I think it’ll honestly just help to make things not as depressing. It’s making me feel Christmassy just talking about it.” Public attendance at spectator sport is also permitted, limited to either 50% capacity or 2,000 people outdoors and

Curtain up for theatres

1,000 indoors. With this news, football fans are looking forward to the burst of energy this return may bring into the game. Liverpool FC supporter Pete Johnson said: “I think it’s going to boost the atmosphere definitely. I think for the players, just having people there is going be a big help. They’ve had to play without the fans there with them for ages, so I think even having 2000 people at the grounds is going to be a massive change. “There’s some rumours going around that the Premier League might ban singing and all that, but I think that if the players have to adjust to playing the game differently, then there’s no harm in us adjusting either. It won’t be forever.” With gyms, hairdressers and even places of worship also opening up again, it seems as though it is possible for some sense of normality to return. The government is also allowing hugging, which comes as great news to Liverpool resident Sharon Pomford. The 52-year-old said: “I can’t wait to give my parents a hug, I’ve not seen them in so long. I was really worried about them being alone for Christmas, but now a few of us can go and see them.” She added: “This year has been hard for everybody, so it’ll be nice to chill out and see family without worrying about getting into trouble.” Additional reporting by Aidan Crisp

Pubs reopen with a 10pm curfew



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Museums ready to welcome visitors






Let’s go shopping

Stadiums re-open with capacity of 2,000

ational Museums Liverpool (NML) has announced that its museums and galleries will reopen to the

public today. After a pretty tough year, full of restrictions and social distancing, it seems that the final month of 2020 could be slightly more joyous. Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool said: “We’d like to thank the people of Liverpool for supporting the mass testing pilot, which has helped to drive down the number of Covid cases in the city, enabling us to reopen our museums and galleries in the run up to Christmas.  “We must, however, remain vigilant so this achievement doesn’t go to waste.   “We are asking visitors to follow our safety procedures such as booking in advance and wearing face coverings. We also encourage visitors to regularly get tested so we can keep the transmission rate

down and continue to welcome people to our venues.”  She added: “With the festive season upon us, Blackler’s Santa has become a firm festive favourite at the Museum of Liverpool since joining our collection in 2013. It’s wonderful that he is back this year to delight visitors amid what has been a very uncertain time, bringing back memories back for many, whilst creating new ones for the younger generation.  “We’ll also be keeping the Black Lives Matter conversation going by celebrating key figures who have shaped the city’s Black music scene in Champion One, Champion All! and encouraging visitors to continue helping us shape the future of World Cultures gallery, enabling us to create displays and a space where issues of colonialism and injustice can be openly explored.”  As long as visitors continue to follow government guidelines and safety procedures, then the things we took for granted before COVID-19 will hopefully remain open.


Credit @Un

We’ll be home for Christmas...


tudents in Liverpool are preparing to go back to their families after the announcement of a six-day travel window after the end of the current four-week lockdown. Will Liverpool be prepared for some travel chaos? The six days will see different universities sending their students’ home, with staggered departure dates. Liverpool alone has nearly 60,000 students and sending them all home on the same day could lead to mass amounts of people at railway stations, airports, boat docks and bus depots. The chaos could even cause a back-up among student accommoda-

tion, with a large number of parents arriving on the same day. Students have been advised that all teaching will be online by December 9, which is a week before the end of term and right in the middle of important deadlines for some courses. The government hopes this will minimise the risk of students taking coronavirus back to their home addresses, especially after mass testing has been offered during the lockdown period. Aaron Woods, a second year Business student, from Northern Ireland, said: “I was going to stay till the end of term, but was shocked to see the boats are all sold

out towards then whereas there are loads of cheap boats home during the travel window. Maybe more people are staying at University than I thought.” Even after the government released this information, it seems that not all students agree that this implemented plan will be effective. A Liverpool Life survey of students at different universities across the country showed that 56% of students asked would not be travelling home during the travel window, with 12 out of 54 people saying they would be waiting until the end of term to make their travel plans. A total of 43% of students

By NEVE WILKINSON said they would be using public transport to go home, so if all of these were to depart on the same day it could make social distancing harder, and even lead to the spread of coronavirus. One student nurse said: “I’m on placement until December 21st so it is impossible for us to go home in that window. It also gives transport companies an incentive to increase their prices on those dates”. With Christmas coming up, money already being a struggle this year, and now being told when to travel, students are advised to shop around for the best deals for tickets. “


Photo ©Frank Vessia on Unsplash


Festive fun is on the cards By BRENDAN THOMAS


he countdown to Christmas is on and a brandnew festive competition has been launched for young people this year. Liverpool City Council has announced its first ever Christmas card competition and they are calling on schoolchildren, aged between four and 18, from all around the city to get creative. Those who enter will have the chance to see their designs turned into the city’s official greetings card. Mayor Joe Anderson said: “In our city, we are blessed with exceptionally creative youngsters, so this is the perfect way to reward some of that talent while spreading festive joy

after such a tough year. “The winning images will be turned into cards myself and the Chief Executive send out, landing in inboxes and on doormats around the world, including to the Mayors of Liverpool’s sister cities.” He added: “Inspiration could come from Liverpool’s famous landmarks, or you could show what Christmas in our city means to you. Good luck to everyone entering. “I can’t wait to see what you come up with.” The competition will be split into three age categories, and the winners will be chosen shortly after December 6, when the competition closes. The judges include Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Barbara Murray, Director of Education Jonathon Jones, Director of

Communications Camilla Mankabad and Director of Children and Young People’s Services Steve Reddy. Councillor Barbara Murray is looking forward to the competition. She said: “I am very excited about the competition and I am sure it will be a great success. “As someone who has taught art and run art competitions in the past, I know there is a real skill involved in card design. Best advice? Use bold and bright blocks of colour!” After such a challenging year for so many, Barbara believes it is ‘absolutely critical’ to remain cheerful and festive, especially for children. She said: “We need to keep focused on positive family time and Christmas provides just such an opportunity. I am aware that people are putting up trees and decorations earlier and

I guess we all want to move into the festive season earlier. “I think we will see greater efforts to connect with community as well with many gardens and shared spaces with lights, all of which adds to that special magic.” And as Liverpool City Region moves into Tier 2 after the second national lockdown, Barbara believes this will also add to Liverpool’s festive spirit. Councillor Barbara Murray told Liverpool Life: “I think at the start of December when we move into Tier 2, there will be a collective ‘light up’ and the spirit of Christmas will be upon us, and we will feel particularly thankful this year. “Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and good luck in the competition!”

The LL podcast is here!



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iverpool-based community group The Advent Bank has published a festive storybook to help raise money for charities over the

festive period. With the pandemic putting the country at a stand-still for the majority of the year, there has been a decline in charity fundraising activities. As a result, a lot of charities aren’t getting as many donations as usual. Founded in 2016, The Advent Bank, based in south Liverpool, was launched to provide hungry children and their families with food at Christmas time. The community group has since gone on to partner with six local charities. This year The Advent Bank will be giving all the net sale profits from the book to local charities in need. The book, The Rainbow Christmas, is all about kindness and community in what has been a really strange year. It focuses on the positives this year has brought in terms of the community coming together to help the people who need it.  Advent Bank founder, Rachel Ryan, said: “We we were so overwhelmed by the display of decided to celebrate kindness and generosity in our the values we’d seen in action community that and raise more money for our charities by self-publishing our own Christmas story.


“The Rainbow Christmas was inspired by the incredible show of support for The Advent Bank’s fundraising and we hope that it in turn will inspire readers when they see what is possible when communities come together.”


ne of the charities that will be benefitting from the sales of the book is The Isabella Trust, a Liverpool organisation, which aims to raise awareness and provide support to parents and carers of autistic children and children with sensory difficulties. Tracy Bowyer, founder of The Isabella Trust, said: “We rely on donations and fundraising from the public which has come to

a virtual stop this year, so we are very grateful.” Another charity that will be benefitting is BetterDays Homes, who provide sheltered housing for women and their children fleeing from domestic violence as well as providing support on how to deal with domestic violence. Founder Cynthia Monteverde said: “The pandemic has affected donations in a major way as we are not able to fundraise the way we normally do, and we cannot accept donations the way we normally would. This has affected our budget in a big way. “The Advent Bank helping us to get donations has come as a big help for us all and is very much appreciated!”


s Ryan said: “We focus on working with organisations that help vulnerable children who slipped through the net of usual support, but didn’t have the time or budget to thrilled fundraise for themselves. This year has to have been able to been such a difficult year for so rally the community to ensure the many and we are charities that support those most vulnerable families are able to continue their incredible work over Christmas and beyond.” The Advent Bank has also collaborated with small businesses to create a range of The Rainbow Christmas-themed products, with proceeds again being donated to the local charities. Small business Adamapple has created Christmas boxes. Jen Murray, team member at Adamapple said: “When Rachel approached us about her idea, we jumped at the chance of being involved. It is so important that children don’t go hungry this Christmas and that families have some support. It’s things like this that make a huge impact on people’s lives.   “We were sent over the illustration from the book and our talented designer Jon was able to adapt this for use in our laser engraver. I just love how the design looks on one of our keepsake boxes. It is truly a special thing. We made 30 boxes in total.”

Once upon a time in Liverpool...


By Tallulah Suleman

‘We hope that it in turn will inspire readers when they see what is possible when communities come together’

To buy a copy of The Rainbow Christmas for yourself or a loved one visit www.theadventbank.com/shop









Liverpool’s lights By BETH HARWOOD

The city of Liverpool goes all out every December to make sure its

visitors get the Christmas they deserve. The colourful lights dotted around the city and people’s homes bring a smile to everyone’s

faces, and this year is no exception. With 2020 being dull for most of us, people have come together to hang their lights and decorations for all to see, to make sure this Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.









shine on






Jam restaurant festive afternoon teas If you can’t wait until Christmas day to spoil someone special to you, book a table at Jam Restaurant for a festive afternoon tea. Running every Thursday to Sunday of December up until the 21st, Jam will be serving afternoon teas full of Christmas delights alongside themed live music such as swing, motown and soul. £19 pp/£24 pp with prosecco included.

From Liverpo

wit 7

Liverpool Cheese Company Cheese School School but not as you know it! Treat a cheese lover or passionate foody friend to Liverpool Cheese Company’s cheese school at the Everyman Theatre. Learn about Alpine cheeses whilst enjoying Riesling wine and a generous selection of LCC’s alpine cheeses. £30 per person per session


Liverpool Gin Distillery Tours and Tasting Experiences – The favourite local tipple is now selling gift vouchers for gin tasting sessions and gin lab experiences. Take a tour around the distillery and learn the history of Liverpool Gin before distilling your own, or try the entire range with a knowledgeable guide. Book in advance for something to look forward to in the New Year with your loved ones. Gin tasting - £38.50pp Gin lab - £70 pp


If you’re stuck on what to buy for the person that has everything, look no further than ISI CAIRNS’ gift guide. Featuring the best unique gifts from local independent Liverpool businesses there’s something for everybody with every budget in mind.


Liverpool Gift Company Know a proud Scouser? Liverpool Gift Company has unique Liverpool-themed gifts celebrating everything about the city. Our favourites include the Liverpool skyline glassware, and the Liver Bird bracelets in silver and rose gold. £ various


Made by Lisa Jewellery Ideal for the unique fashionista who loves anything handmade. Lisa also owns a shop on the growingly popular Lark Lane and makes quirky earrings and jewellery from as little as £4. Great as a stocking filler!






Roy McCarthy’s #LocalsinLockdown Campaign Mugs and T-shirts Are your mates missing their favourite local? Treat them to one of graphic designer Roy McCarthy’s hand illustrated T-shirts featuring some of Liverpool’s favourite watering holes from The Caledonia to the Swan Inn. The proceeds from each mug and/or t shirt sold go straight to the pub featured on them as well! £10 - £20

Waste Not Want Not Gift Hampers If you want to enjoy the festive season with less of an impact on the planet, these plastic-free vegan gift hampers are a great option. Pick a ready-made basket for a quick and easy eco gift, or create your own from Waste Not’s selection of food, household, and beauty items.


Coffee & Fandisha Gift Cards Help fuel a caffeine addiction and support a small local business with a Coffee & Fandisha gift card. The coffee shop is nestled in the heart of the Baltic Triangle serving delicious coffees and homemade food. A great secret Santa gift for coffee-loving colleagues. £ various


W A L L S of goodness




Photo ©The Brain Charity

Photo ©Alan Melia choices, learn new skills, make friends and do their bit for the planet too,” she said. The wall will use a scientific method of farming called hydroponics which uses LED lighting and water to grow leafy greens and tasty herbs all year round without the need for soil, pesticides, and ideal weather conditions. The wall will not only provide education and social interaction to its users, but it will also contribute nutritious free food to the charity’s on-site café. The organisation has also teamed up with Baltic Triangle enterprise Farm Urban, who are experts in the vertical growing method. Farm Urban have already used hydroponics for several years in their Baltic-based underground farm, finding success with their ‘Greens for Good’ delivery services providing sustainable fresh greens to the local community. Dr Paul Myers, managing director of Farm Urban, explained the importance of working together with The Brain Charity: “Farm Urban uses aquaponics as a focal point around

which communities can come together. We partnered up with The Brain Charity to allow us the opportunity to share our food revolution with a wider audience than ever before. “The Brain Charity pilot will be used to develop an educational programme around accessible, indoor food growing which will be shared with communities across the UK and beyond.” Hydroponic growing has gained attention from the media, with Netflix featuring the indoor farming technique on the David Attenborough documentary ‘A Life on Our Planet’, explaining how it can help in the

battle against climate change. The fundraiser is also part of the Aviva Community fund, where employees can distribute funds to projects which are involved. Members of the public can also make donations to support the wall of green goodness in exchange for The Brain Charity merchandise, or even boxes of Farm Urban’s sustainable vegetables. It seems that the future is glowing green for The Brain Charity and Farm Urban, with hopes that these vertical walls of vegetation could soon become a popular and sustainable way of feeding communities’ minds and bodies.

Photo ©The Brain Charity

Liverpool charity may be the first in the UK to have its own edible wall in a bid to help its members become green-thumbed and enjoy the benefits that come along with ‘growing-yourown’. The Brain Charity, based on Norton Street, has launched a fundraiser and is seeking £15,000 to install and maintain the living wall as well as providing workshops and educational programmes for its members, in hopes to ‘empower service users – who are often marginalised’. The organisation aims to provide emotional support, practical help and social activities to people with neurological conditions, as well as their families, friends and caregivers. Neurological conditions can range from cluster headaches to brain injuries and stroke and The Brain Charity aims to help those who are affected by these live long, healthy and happy lives. Tui Benjamin, head of communications and fundraising at The Brain Charity, told Liverpool Life about how the success of the plant-powered wall will help the charity’s members. “We hope this pioneering project, the first of its kind in the UK, will not only allow us to significantly improve the mental health of some of our most vulnerable service users – after all, taking care of plants is a known mood booster – but also help them make more healthy food

Photo ©The Brain Charity



Changing the By HEIDI HEWLINGS


FACE of men’s health

his December, men up and down the Country are giving up their razors and getting hairy for Bowel Cancer UK. Decembeard has returned for another year, as thousands across the nation get ready to ditch their shavers and grow their beards to raise money for a worthy cause. This hair-raising fundraiser is being held from December 1 to 31, by national charity Bowel Cancer UK, and is encouraging men to grow a beard in a fun and quirky way, while raising awareness and much needed funds for bowel cancer. Daniel Lock, 22, from Wavertree in Liverpool is among those who will be taking part in this year’s Decembeard. He told Liverpool Life: “I think it’s a great thing to do and a really easy way to raise money for an important charity and actually feel like you’re helping. I don’t think that many people realise how many people are affected by Bowel Cancer and it’s a lot more common than people think,

so fundraisers like this help to get the message out there. “I took part last year as well and somehow managed to persuade a few of the lads to join me this year so it should be a laugh. I’m not complaining either as the extra layer keeps my face quite warm especially now it’s getting colder, so it definitely has its perks.” Bowel Cancer is the third most common cancer in men in the UK, with around 23,000 men being diagnosed each year. However, if diagnosed early, the condition is treatable and curable. This year’s sponsored beard grow campaign helps to ensure Bowel Cancer UK can continue to campaign to save lives and improve the quality of life of all those affected by bowel cancer. A spokesperson from Bowel Cancer UK said: “Anyone who’s willing to let their facial hair flourish can take part! The rules are simple. Make sure you’re freshly shaven on November 30 and then just leave your beard to


‘A wake-up call for society’

dodgy moustache may have been clearly visible on some men this month, in support of Movember, the men’s mental health charity which is prevalent across much of the UK, with hundreds of thousands of people turning out to make valuable donations to the charity. The money they make has in the past made a huge difference in the community, with initiatives such as getting fans to tackle their mental health through football, New ideas to improve mental wellbeing of motorcyclists and Improving the mental fitness of teenage athletes through community sport including supporting initiatives in Liverpool. Alongside Movember, Mo-Run-

ning have been holding virtual fundraisers due to restrictions of Covid-19 meaning that public running events have had to be cancelled. But it’s the Movember campaign which really has the most meaningful impact, with London being the forefront of the campaign. “Mo’s” have been erected in the past at significant areas such as Borough Market, London Bridge and the London Eye. Lewis Jackson, 21, a former student at the University of Liverpool, lost his best mate to suicide last month. He told Liverpool Life

• • • • • • •

1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer Over 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer More than 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year The number of people dying of bowel cancer has been falling since the 1970s. This may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage

grow over the month of December in the run up to new year. “People who already have beards and don’t want to start from scratch can also take part. “Just get creative with it and dye or decorate your beard to join the campaign. It’s a great way to have fun, and at the same time raise money and awareness for such an important

about how he believes the pressures on men are firmly overlooked by society, but is slowly getting more and more recognition. “My mate was seemingly perfectly normal, one day he was here in the pub and the next day he was gone. I believe in causes such as Movember because it gives younger blokes like us to speak up about our feelings without being told to ‘man up’ or told ‘real men don’t cry’. There is too much stigma attached to this topic and people need to wake up.” Lewis has taken part in this years Movember, raising over £750

cause. “Tell your Dads, Brothers, Grandads and Uncles about it to spread the message and get more people on board.” The message behind the campaign is simple, ‘Grow a beard throughout December and help stop people dying of bowel cancer.’ • Find out more at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk

alone for cause as well as running 60 kilometres in 30 days which is another part of Movember’s campaign to help get women involved too. Recent surveys suggest Liverpool have had the highest rise in mental health issues since 2015, rising by 7.8% since then. In Liverpool, men’s mental health is rising. In 2019, the North West has the fifth highest male suicide rate in the country, with 17.2 deaths per 100,000 compared to that of the women’s rate being 5.2 per 100,000.




The secret life of CHARLIE LAU speaks to the film-maker who has highlighed the role mules plays across worldwide communities


n award-winning film that focuses on the lives of working mules in Nepal will be screened live online by Liverpool John Moores University this month. The documentary entitled, ‘Khacchad Mule’, was filmed by Liverpool Screen School lecturer Michael Brown over the course of a year which he spent travelling with the mules, as they worked in factories and portered goods high into the Himalayas. The film will be screened on December 10. The opportunity to film the story came about when Michael discovered


a donkey sanctuary that did a lot of work with equine outreach projects in Nepal’s brick factories. Michael, who lived in Nepal for five years, explained: “I wanted to try and tell the whole story of a mule’s life, as it was a story that had never been told before.” During the process of filming he travelled through many different communities and built relationships with the groups in which the mules journeyed between. He said: “I was surprised at the diversity of a mule's life. “I hadn't realized the diverse range of community groups that they pass through during the course of their life. “The mules serve as a link that unites Muslim communities in India, middle-men traders, Hindu workers in the brick factories and Tibetan Buddhists handlers.” It is Michael’s philosophy of work which allows him the ability to form natural relationships with his subjects. He said: “I like to work alone when

mules I make a film, a camera crew gets in the way of building relationships with the people you are filming. “If I want to tell a story in as genuine a way as possible then I want to get alongside people. “This film gave me experiences that I would never have had if I didn’t work like that.” He further said of his filmmaking process: “I tried to use cinematography in the film to show the beauty of mules; they are incredibly stunning animals when you see them. “It's nice when people say a documentary I have made is interesting, but it means a lot more when they say it looks beautiful because people are appreciating the cinematography as a piece of art.” Yet Michael’s intentions for his documentary isn’t just for it to be seen; he hopes that it will promote discussions and actions on a larger scale. Alongside the screening will be a panel discussion about the issues raised in the film, and he has now received funding to return to Nepal to

screen his film for the communities he filmed in. “We are going to do a pre-screening and post-screening focus group and interview session to try and gauge the changes in people's knowledge, attitudes and practices. “We will hopefully find that they see their mules more holistically, as a living intelligent being. “A lot of the handlers treated their mules like machinery. I find it very hard to understand why they would continue to work the mules even though they may have had a bone sticking out of their backs. “But I have to force myself to understand that different cultures see the world differently.


f their attitudes to the mules change, their behaviours and practices will change. We will also be doing the screening with the Nepal government, to allow politicians to go through that same process of change.” ‘Khacchad Mule’ was the film-maker's first piece concerning animal


ethics, and it recently won the award for ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at the International Nature Without Borders Film Festival. Michael moved to Nepal straight after his Masters course to work in development communication. He said of his work: “Usually all of my work has been focused on social development issues usually involving giving marginalized people a stronger voice. “I include the environment as a marginalized voice. It can’t speak for itself, yet it is under the threat of being damaged to the point of no return. “After filming the mules in Nepal, I now include animals in the description of marginalized because they can’t speak for themselves in the discussion of issues that affect them.”

Michael added: “There shouldn’t be any distinction between humans and animals when it comes to working. “Instead of talking about animals' rights, why don’t we just talk about workers' rights? “There are gaps in the welfare of mules that must be addressed, and these things sometimes only become apparent when films like this are made.”

• The screening of the film will take place at 7:30 – 10pm on Thursday December 10. Tickets are free but must be booked through Eventbrite: https://tinyurl.com/y4adz7hj

If their attitudes to the mules change, their behaviours and practices will change



We need help to give hope ...


RUAIRI WALSH speaks to local charity campaigner from Liverpool Jackie Wrafter about her fight to improve children’s education in Vietnamese schools after life-changing backpacking trip

ackpacking 20 years ago, Liverpudlian Jackie Wrafter travelled to Vietnam. Her experience there changed her life and pushed her on to remarkable achievements and realising a very special dream. A dream, which is now under threat. When Jackie and her friend travelled to Vietnam in 2000 they visited a local orphanage just outside Hoi An City and what they found there horrified them. “There was one room closed off from the rest of the orphanage and when we went inside, we found a room full of children with disabilities. The room was hot, dark and smelled of urine. Many of the children were curled up in foetal positions on their beds,” says Jackie. “The children all had physical disability, but seemed very intellectually disabled as well. However, after spending some time with them, we found that many of them had just shut down from the world, as nothing ever happened in it. “When we gave them some attention, they began to open up and we found that many of the children had small or no cognitive disability and were bright, humorous little characters. “Before we worked with them, these children never left the room, or had any kind of stimulation or play. They were just fed roughly and hosed down once a day.” Spurred on by this, Jackie and her friend set up classrooms at the orphanage and arranged social outings as well as medical care including physios and surgeries. This led to more families in the area bringing their disabled children to the orphanage to receive better care. “We dreamed of having our own


day centre where we could do all that we did at the orphanage, but better, and could give families enough support to keep their children who had disability within the home. “Quite unexpectedly, we received money to build our own day centre from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and we opened up in 2012.” What they set up was the Kianh Foundation, a school for disadvantaged children with disabilities which has proven to be a huge success helping hundreds of children get the help that they would not ordinarily be able to. But the impact of the pandemic and the loss of tourists who also support the foundation, it is struggling for the funding it needs to keep going.


peaking to Liverpool Life from Vietnam, Jackie says: “We currently have 82 children, aged from two to 19, attending our school. We have also done a lot of outreach work, providing and fitting customized wheelchairs to children in remote areas. “I know it’s a lot of kids that we’ve worked with, but we can’t boast huge numbers as our work is mainly long term. If a child comes to our school at two years of age, theoretically they may stay there until they are 18 or 19, so the commitment is a long one. “We work with kids with a wide range of issues, including Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, Autism Syndrome, Cognitive Disability, Microcephaly, and some rarer disorders such as Deafblindness or Chromosome 10 deficiencies. Every child has an Individual Education Plan, and our teachers have to be experts in many areas. “The children have a busy school day and we have special education

programmes, early numeracy and literacy, mainstream Vietnamese curriculum, communication, behaviour modification, as well as many creative subjects such as dance therapy, music, art, drama and yoga. “Those that need it have physio and occupational therapy, and we have a big organic garden where they learn to garden. It is really an international standard special school that is accessible to extremely poor families and their children. “We also have a vocational training programme for our older students. As many qualified people have told me many times, I think it is also the best special school in Vietnam.” The Kianh Foundation has gained international recognition and in 2018 Jackie received an MBE from Prince William in recognition of her work. “It was obviously very nice to be recognised for so many years of hard, often challenging work, and I was quite surprised about it, mainly as Vietnam does not seem to appear on the British radar very often. But part of me felt a little bit fraudulent, because getting to the stage we are now at, has been a very big group effort by so many people, from inside Vietnam and outside of it. Part of me didn’t feel right about just me getting the award.”


owever after all of the foundation’ssuccesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit its normal funding hard. “We are funded mainly by international donations, some one-off big ones, some smaller, steady ones that cover, for example, child sponsorship,” says Jackie. “As the Pandemic hits the income stream around the world, those donations are drying up. Some people are losing their jobs or having their hours

cut and just don’t have the money to donate to us anymore, and bigger donors are unsure what the future holds and so are hanging on to their money. “We do also receive some donations from the tourist industry within Vietnam but tourism has completely dried up here this year and those that previously helped us are also struggling.” This drop in funding is beginning to cause effects on the ground and is meaning that after a decade of life-changing work, the foundation itself is in danger. “There is less and less money coming in each month, and savings that we had are now having to be used to plug the gaps in our budget.” She fears she may soon have to tell her 38 staff that there is no more work for them. “Most of our highly-trained, wonderful Vietnamese staff are the main breadwinners for their family and many of them have their own difficult circumstances, as single mothers, widows or having some disability themselves.” Jackie’s message is simple. “Please help us to keep our school open and give what you can; either a one-off or regular donation. Or club together with a group of family, friends or workmates to sponsor one of our students or a teacher or therapist. “If things continue like this, we will have to close our doors next year. And we will have to tell 82 children that love their school and that have nowhere else to go, that there will be no more school for them.” • Donations can be made at: Virgin Money Giving: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/ charity?charityId=1010097&frequencyType=M&stop_mobi=yes


‘Exciting’ nomination for a love story to Liverpool BETH HARWOOD speaks to Jeff Young about his memoir ‘Ghost Town’, which has made the Costa Book Awards shortlist


ou may love Liverpool, but do you know it? Over the years the city has been greeted by many different faces and with a forever changing landscape, it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether things you remember really happened. In his new book, shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, Jeff Young walks through the streets and tries to recall the city that once was. The idea for Ghost Town began with a series of talks Jeff did with BBC Radio Three. Talking about how Little Toller, the books publisher, approached him with the idea, Jeff, who is also a lecturer in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “They heard the radio essays and said they thought there was a book in it, and would I be interested in writing a book? So, I casually fell into turning it into a book. “There wasn’t enough material in the Radio Three pieces, so I went back to the publishers with 15 more things I’d like to write about. And then we ended up with 18 chapters

really and the chapters became a memoir of childhood and teenage years. Basically, it’s a love story to Liverpool and to my family.” The book is not written in chronological order, and so does not necessarily conform to the norms of a biography. Some reviews go as far as to say it’s written more like science fiction. Jeff laughed: “That’s not that far away from how my mind works. It’s closer to montage or collage and it’s very image based. You can’t really trust your memory. You can get as close as you possibly can to getting it right, but we have false memories. “And sometimes memory is more like a dream or a nightmare. I don’t think it goes as far as fantasy, but science fiction is kind of a good description, because it’s the strangeness of science fiction.” Jeff said there are parts of the book that have made him think it can’t really have happened. “There’s a very vivid memory about seeing a police horse dying in the street when I was a kid, on the day of a football match at Goodison Park. I can still see it now. I can see

the horse falling and the policeman going down with it and the horse haemorrhaging blood, so vivid and so clear. “I found out years later that it didn’t happen to me, it happened to my mum when she was a little girl. She must have told me the story and it became my memory.” When trying to gather memories, Jeff said he often took walks around the city. The theatre and radio writer joked: “My favourite place in Liverpool was just demolished a couple of years ago and it was the Futurist Cinema on Lime Street. And I go into that quite a bit in the book, what I see as an absolute insult to the people of the city to demolish a beautiful cinema.” Jeff described the Costa award nomination as a “real surprise, exciting and a bit scary”. “Being nominated for the Costa, it’s one of the biggest book prizes in the country. When you look at the other books that are on the shortlist you think ‘Oh my God’. I would like to win, but I think one of the others will win it, but it can’t do any harm to be on that list.”



Liverpool Opinion


he role of a lead commentator cannot be underplayed. Describe the events of the game as they unfold. Provide context to the event and the individuals or groups involved. Deliver that golden moment of catharsis; the “Aguerroooooo” or “oh ye beautyyyyyy” that marks a moment almost as much as the act itself. This role is almost always supplied by the classic archetype. An educated, “well-spoken”, man. The man that never lets a moment of silence sit without a barrage of cliché. The man that pushes narratives fabricated by the corporate influences in the studio. The man who has never changed and will not change, detached from

an audience far too different from the one being catered to. Whether it’s Martin Tyler, Jon Champion or good ol’ “Motty”, they are all variations of the same person, performing imitations of one another. A middle class, white man peddling the virtues of the game. Pundits, opposed to commentators are often more representative so why is it that this diversity is not displayed in the voices that decorate the sport for us? In 2018, we saw some progression in the lead commentary role, with Vicki Sparks becoming the first woman to commentate on a World Cup game on British television. While her ability during the tournament was commendable, it simply emulated the voice and style of what we already possess.

‘There is an intense gatekeeping of football amongst British people’

The only access point for a non-bourgeois, white man is to mirror the status quo, in fear of rejection. And even when doing so, a spiteful backlash is par for the course. In addition, Wikipedia’s list of British Football Commentators, consisting of voices past and present, contains a single person of Black, Asian or mixed ethnic background (Robbie Earl) and two women (Jacqui Oatley and Robyn Cowen). There is an intense gatekeeping of football and footballing language amongst British people. A clear example of this is the use of the word ‘soccer’. An English word in origin, used because of a game in another country with an identical name. It’s even used frequently within

Britain, in popular TV programmes such as ‘Soccer Saturday’ and ‘Soccer AM’. But Brits see the use of this word as an attack on their legitimacy, with the combined arrogance of a claim to the “best league in the world” and the misleading colonial right to having invented the sport, the British footballing ego decides that any deviation from their chosen narrators of the sport is an insult to their authenticity, delegitimising any foreigner who speaks it. The progression of football commentary is at a standstill, with new voices and takes struggling to access the mainstream. An old boys club has been allowed to fester. Football commentary needs an upheaval, but the pathway for a fresh perspective seems murky at best.

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Cup magic for minnows Marine FA Cup is the Spur for non-league Marine Lowly Marine FC have drawn Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the FA Cup. The fairytale continues for the Crosby-based team, who are in the 8th tier of English football. News of the draw sent Marine trending on Twitter and even found them on US news channel CNN. They will be hoping to continue their run in the competition, and maybe even go the distance and win it. The last non-league side to win the competition? ... yep, Tottenham Hotspur, in 1901, over a century ago.

‘Best draw we could have had’


arine FC winger Mike Howard was thrilled with the recent FA Cup draw with Premier League leaders Tottenham Hotspur. The 21-year-old, who scored the winning penalty in the first round, is looking forward to the prospect of playing against some of the biggest stars in the country. He said: “You couldn’t get a better draw.

They’re top of the league. Especially with the players they’ve got, Harry Kane England captain, the Wales captain, Gareth Bale and then you’ve got Jose Mourinho. You couldn’t get a better draw to be honest.” Howard only joined the non-league team this year following a successful loan last season. The Southport-born winger is back enjoying his football after a difficult spell at Morecambe and expressed his joy at the massive opportunity the FA Cup has given him: “I kind of joined Marine thinking I’m going to enjoy my football again and work my way up. “I didn’t expect to be in the first round of the FA Cup, scoring the winning penalty, then into the second round and now into the third round. It’s just a big shop window for everyone, especially being on tv as well. You can have a good game and you don’t know what could happen next game, you could be elsewhere.” The whole country will be watching to see if the Crosby-based minnow can create an FA Cup upsets to remember.



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Liverpool Life 9:8 December 2 2020