Sunderland Vibe - Autumn 2021

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SUNDERLAND The city, coast & beyond... AUT U M N 2 0 21




Take the kids for free all day, every day

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It’s widely known that autumn is the season of change and in this new edition of Sunderland Vibe, we’re celebrating the fact that Wearside is continuing to transform for the better thanks to new businesses opening their doors and continued investment in our great city. With the weather getting colder, you’ll want to find some spots to cosy up in when you hit the city. Thankfully for you, we’ve got you covered with a mag packed full of great businesses to escape into. We’ve got an exclusive interview with the guys at Spice Empire and the genius behind Master Debonair, a full lowdown on restaurant week and we spend 24 hours with the University of Sunderland’s Robot Dog - Bernard! We’ve also got a packed culture schedule for you to fill your diaries with, as well as an interview with local artist Kathryn Robertson and a look at the spooky return of Mackem Monsters this Halloween. The leaves may be falling off the trees but Sunderland is a city in full bloom with more reasons to visit than ever. Pop the kettle on, have a flick through Vibe's 36 pages and fall in love with the city this autumn.

4 Vibe online

Sunderland through your eyes

6 Proven People

The lowdown on a vibrant new business

8 Sunderland Restaurant Week The city's tastiest event returns

20 A master at work

Master Debonair CEO chats with Vibe

22 Meet Robot Dog

A new recruit at University of Sunderland

10 Sunderland Empire returns An exclusive chat with Marie Nixon

24 Sunderland Business Festival A city-wide celebration of bold business

Allies Group Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0SR

13 Lights Out festival is here

26 Sunderland College shines

Publisher Christopher March Editorial Matthew Thomas Advertising Rebecca Jackson Design

16 Drawing a fine line

34 Plan ahead

All contents copyright ©2021 Allies Group Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All content marked 'profile feature' is paid for advertising. All information is correct at time of going to print, August 2021. ISSN 2633-4518

Spooky season takes over the city centre Checking in with Kathryn Robertson

Record-high A-Level results

Unmissable events heading to Sunderland



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Our city through your eyes! Here's what some of our people and businesses have been upto since we last checked in... Did you know... you can get your pizza to takeaway?! @faustopizzaandbar With this warm weather we're currently having, take advantage of our beaut coastline.

@lewisgrahamphotography There was a viewpoint at the Wetlands Centre with a wooden post carved out to create a nice looking through to Penshaw Monument. @sunderlandvibe Sunderland Central Station to be transformed in £26m upgrade!

@grindercoffeeco Cool down with an iced coffee, iced tea, frappe and a smoothie. @sundempire Next up in our virtual Ghostlight Sessions Mercury Music Prize nominated @FieldMusic perform in the beautiful surroundings of our main entrance with Terpsichore enjoying their iconic songs.



Tag us using #SunderlandVibe to be featured! #SunderlandVibe



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What was the inspiration behind the colourful decor? Any particular themes or aesthetics that influenced you? PP: The most important thing is we didn’t want to be like anywhere else. Given that the huge windows at the front of the place make everything so bright, we needed lots of art and colour dotted about. I can’t imagine many people saying it looks like that bar over there or it’s similar to this bar in this town. It’s been a joint effort with all of us having input on colour schemes, fittings, bar tops, tiles and so on. We hope people enjoy the space as much as we do. Why did you choose Sunderland as the spot to launch Proven People? PP: There is a passion here and a want for more and more independent businesses to do well. Some of the architecture is mind blowing and when we visited the building we fell in love with it.

Nothing to prove A brand new independent nestling down in the city centre, Proven People is a vibrant hangout, a place where people can bond over great food, share a few drinks and lose themselves in top-quality music from the brightest DJ talents come the weekend. Matthew Thomas checks in with the team behind this new venture on Burdon Road… Tell us a little bit about yourself? PP: We are Elliot, Lee and Paul, three mates who had an idea for a bar that serves great pizza, good drinks and plays great music. When did your passion for food begin? PP: I guess we all love good food. It was important to make a place where you can come for a bite to eat and a drink, or a relaxed meal with friends in a nice environment. We all have different tastes but equally we all love a great pizza in good company. Has it always been a dream to combine your love of music with the hospitality world? PP: We chatted for ages about how we could open our own spot one day. I guess you could say we have matured in recent years and in doing so, realised the potential of a place that marries together the things we enjoy; music, 6

food, good beer, natural wine and spending time with loved ones. How did the inspiration for Proven People come about? PP: We had been looking at various buildings for sometime, trying to find somewhere we could see us making our own. When we found 1-2 Burdon Road, we instantly saw the potential and started adapting our ideas and vision specifically for this building. Tell us about the work that has gone on at 1-2 Burdon Road… PP: We had to bring the place to life a bit, fix a few issues and put our stamp on it without ignoring the heritage of the building. We’ve future proofed the space with new electrics, as well as all new fittings and fixtures. There’s an all new decor, new additions to the kitchen, a whole new bar area, a great sound system that sounds unbelievable and a DJ booth with a full analog and digital set up so our DJs can play their records or more modern cuts in digital format through one of the best mixers in the world. We have also shared our love of artwork with some heritage artwork from over the years and there’s three portraits of Grace Jones, Andrew Weatherall and Frankie Knuckles from a local artist to create hanging on the walls.

Which dishes and menu highlights are you most excited about? PP: Leon, our head chef, has put together a great food offering and he’s covered all bases really. Whether you want a quick glass of wine and a New York pizza slice, or if you’re wanting a selection of small plates to share with a group of friends, there’s plenty to get involved with. There’s lunch specials for the local businesses' lunch footfall and we even have a special stromboli which is unbelievable. We have incorporated fantastic locally sourced seafood on our menu and it’s pleasing to see that our crab and chilli pizza has been a huge success. We are launching a breakfast offering soon and we'll have daily specials too. It’s all happening! PP: Our drinks menu is equally as important. Our manager Jordan is well known around the North East for his prowess with cocktails and he has created us a bespoke drinks list with some exceptional cocktails. We have worked with natural wine specialists Kork in

A new era for Spice Empire Johnathan Ramsay chats to Imad Rahman of Spice Empire as he reveals all about a transformational year for this local business...

Whitley Bay to create a unique natural wine list that will change throughout the year. On top of this, we have a great selection of lagers, beers and craft beers on draught and in the fridges too. How has the local community responded to Proven People since opening in July? PP: Honestly we have been a bit blown away with the support from the local community. The feedback on the food, drinks, service, decor, music and the overall vibe has been amazing. One particular customer said to us recently that they felt we had just been here forever like her local and she feels comfortable popping in for a coffee or a glass of wine. What does the remainder of 2021 have in store for Proven People? PP: Welcoming lots of new and familiar faces through the doors. Loads of great food with locally sourced ingredients, evenings filled with natural wine, great cocktails, our DJs playing great music, our musicians jamming on Tuesday nights, and dancing with new friends until the early hours.

From the outside, Spice Empire is a quaint, understated building that you could easily mistake for a cosy old pub. However, a quick glance inside reveals a modern, hidden gem of an Indian restaurant nestled among some of the city's historic buildings. Recently passed down from one generation to the next, Spice Empire is owned by Rafi Hussain and managed by Imad Rahman. Rafi's first order of business when he took over in 2018 was to update the restaurant's interior; bringing it into the modern age whilst maintaining that original charm that so many love. It’s that duality of tradition and modernity that really defines this latest incarnation of a beloved SR1 Indian restaurant. Imad is one of Spice Empire's biggest personalities. Having only joined Spice Empire at the start of the year, he’s overseen one of the toughest and most transformative years for the restaurant to-date. Imad describes the former state of Spice Empire during a sensational mealtime; “Before the transformation, the carpets were different, there was a stage area and it was really like an old-fashioned, typical Indian restaurant”. “With the new design, Rafi wanted it to be more modern and attract a younger audience, as well as retain that authentic feel for the older generations." Imad was born into the food industry, grafting away in his dad’s takeaway when he was just 11. He was instantly captivated by the fast pace of it all and knew he was going to be working within the food sector for the rest of his life. “My dad taught me the tricks of the trade really” Imad continued. “After 5 years working with my dad, my uncle then took me under his wing working at his restaurant. Takeaways are a completely different ball game from restaurants. I like socialising and talking with people, but with takeaways you can’t really do that. So, I knew I wanted to get into the restaurant business. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that you’ve got to put in. But that's what I love about it.”

There’s certainly been some blood, sweat and tears during this past year for the entire restaurant industry. Lockdowns have had a huge impact on businesses and left an air of uncertainty in their wake. For Imad, it’s been the support from the people of Sunderland that’s gotten him and Spice Empire through these tough times. “We’re so grateful for the local community supporting us and if it wasn’t for them, it would have been really tough over the past year." “It just goes to show how Sunderland people come together in a time of need. We’ve seen everyone back, all the old faces, new faces as well. That’s what kept us going.” A born and bred Mackem, the support of the city has filled Imad with an incredible sense of pride about where he comes from. “We’re such a tight community. I don’t think we’ll get that anywhere else” Imad proudly announces. “I don’t think I’ll ever move out of Sunderland. In terms of the business, I know if I ever run out of anything here I can just go next door and ask - they’d happily give it and help me out. I don’t think you’d ever get that anywhere else.”


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Sunderland Bid gets it teeth into Restaurant Week… Sunderland Restaurant Week is returning for a bold celebration of Wearside’s eateries. Here’s what’s been served up this autumn… It’s here! One of Sunderland’s mostbeloved events is making a welcome return to the table this autumn, as it’s just been announced that Sunderland Restaurant Week is serving up a treat as thousands across the city can tuck into a whole host of cuisines at a bargain price. So, here’s the dates for your diaries. Sunderland Restaurant Week will be back from 25 September to 3 October, and Sunderland BID have an incredible range of Wearside restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes ready to delight hungry revellers. New to the table? Fear not! The premise of Sunderland Restaurant Week is simple; participating venues put together £5, £10 and £15 deals which will help to bring in customers who are eager to either return to favourite eateries or try somewhere new! Sunderland Restaurant Week has always been a major event for the city centre; as 8

25 September 3 October

restaurants and surrounding businesses not only enjoy a surge in trade during quieter periods, but welcome a raft of new faces to the table. The city’s first Restaurant Week was held in 2017, with participants recording as much as a 40 per cent increase in footfall and a £250,000 boost to the local economy. Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, commented on how Sunderland Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for people to sample the city’s diverse food scene. “We all know how hospitality has been badly hit over the past year but we are very lucky in Sunderland that the restaurant scene has not only survived but is actually thriving,” she said. “We have some absolutely amazing places to eat across the city now which is helping to strengthen our offer. “Restaurant Week is the perfect

opportunity for people to try new places or visit somewhere they may not have been for a while and at the same time help support the local economy.” Any venue which would like to get involved should email info@, and more information on which restaurants are taking part in Sunderland Restaurant Week, visit

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The people’s theatre returns…

The stage is set at Sunderland Empire, as worldclass theatre productions finally return to the stage come September 2nd following an 18 month lay-off.

Matthew Thomas checks in with Marie Nixon as the pair discuss the importance of Sunderland Empire, what to expect from a stellar line-up and what the future holds for this iconic venue… For a Theatre Director who is about to welcome 2,000 theatre-goers for the first time in 18 months, she is calm, composed and speaks with an infectious sense of excitement about the future of Sunderland Empire as we begin our chat overlooking the auditorium. “I’ve had quite the unusual start to life as Theatre Director at Sunderland Empire. We were about to begin The Carole King Musical and we received news that we were going to close. Since March 2020, I’ve been here just waiting, biding my time and planning to get this beautiful theatre reopened to the public.” Sunderland Empire is reopening to the public on September 2nd with What's Love Got To Do With It? A Tribute To Tina Turner. It’s a date that has been swirling around Marie’s mind for 18 months as she overlooks the theatre 10

to sum up her feelings. “When the theatre reopens on September 2nd, I think there’s going to be so much joy and emotion. The team here is a wonderful family who’ve worked together for years and this is what we’ve wanted the whole time we’ve been closed. I think it’s going to be an emotional moment when the doors reopen and we welcome all those happy faces back.” There’ll be plenty of happy faces across following the new programme that's been announced. It’s a schedule that welcomes a packed season of comedy, musicals and family favourites to the stage for the remainder of 2021. “I’m thrilled with the programme. I’m really looking forward to The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe - we’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about that production. It’s such a happy production and it’s one that I cannot wait just to see thousands of people having the time of their lives. It’s going to be brilliant!” If you have a quick scan over social media, you’ll soon see an outpouring of love for the Empire. It’s this support that

AUT U MN 2 02 1 has kept Marie and team going through the darker days. “Looking at the messages we’ve received over the past 15 months have been so heartening. To see those messages and see people wanting to come back and experience that joy of theatre was great for us and gave us a huge boost." Given that Marie has walked the corridors, gazed over the auditorium and stood on stage for 18 month in solitude, it’s no surprise that she has a soft-spot for one particular area of the theatre… "When it’s quiet, before the audiences arrive, I love to spend time in the opulent dress circle bar. It’s so beautiful and it offers a sense that it was like this at any point in time of the theatre’s story. You could have been there in 1907 or 2021 and it connects you with the theatre’s history." While Marie wants to honour the story of the Empire at every opportunity, the team are also on a mission to write a new history and include local people in that passage… “While we’ve been closed, we’ve been able to think carefully about how we make an impact on the city and how we continue to be a useful source of information for audiences. We showcased the Ghostlight Sessions. We were lucky to get funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and we wanted people to see and enjoy the theatre. It was important for those musicians to showcase how incredibly brilliant they are and it was lovely that we could show the whole range of talent that exists across the city.” There’s a unique aura that emanates from the Empire. Perhaps it’s the generations of blood, sweat and hard-work from performers and staff alike that is ingrained into the walls. For Marie, it’s the memories made from local people that give the Empire its special feeling…

"When you step through the doors of Sunderland Empire, it’s a magical place that arrests you immediately. It’s so beautiful, opulent and one of the finest buildings in Sunderland. It feels magical and it feels lile it belongs to the people who come which is how it should be - it does belong to the people." Sunderland Empire returns on 2 September. We’ll see you then for the curtain raiser… For more information on performances, check out: sunderlandempire

! e r i p m E d n a l r e d n u to the S


TUE 7 SEP - SAT 11 SEP 2021

TUE 14 SEP - SAT 18 SEP 2021

MON 20 SEP - SAT 25 SEP 2021

TUE 5 OCT - SAT 9 OCT 2021

MON 25 OCT - SAT 30 OCT 2021

TUE 9 NOV - SAT 13 NOV 2021

WED 17 NOV - SAT 20 NOV 2021

TUE 30 NOV - SAT 4 DEC 2021

FRI 10 DEC 2021 - SUN 2 JAN 2022

er live the magic of theatre

SEE THE WEBSITE FOR FULL LISTINGS AND BOOK NOW! ATGTICKETS.COM/Sunderland* 0844 871 7615* Groups 10+ Reserve now, pay later. Call 0207 206 1174 *Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

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Big screen magic at Sunderland Empire Cinema

24 Hours In Sunderland

Wearside is full of wonders for you and your family to enjoy, but we know life sometimes moves at such a pace that you don’t often have the chance to often plan your perfect day. But fear not - Vibe is on hand to guide you through a full day of adventures in Sunderland! Beautiful brekkie with Let There Be Crumbs With an uninterrupted view of Roker Pier and a variety of amazing brekkie scran on the go, it’s no surprise that Let There Be Crumbs is one of the most popular tea rooms in Sunderland when it comes to tucking into scrumptious scran. This Roker Terrace spot serves up hearty full English breakfasts - a veggie option too - and exciting options for the kids like dippy egg and soldiers. A great view with great food? You can’t beat it! L ET T H EREBECRUMBS.C O.UK

Get active with Adventure Sunderland

Fancy getting some of that fresh Autumn air into your lungs? Get yourself to Adventure Sunderland and book the family in for adrenaline pumping outdoor activities. Go pier jumping or take your significant other on in fencing! It’s not all thrills though, you can go for some relaxing guided walks too and save your energy for the rest of your big Sunderland day out. SUNMAC.ORG.UK

After you’ve given your vocal chords a good working out cheering the lads on at the footy, why not sit back and let the Hollywood stars do the talking for a few hours. Head to Sunderland Empire and lose yourself in the magic of cinema. There’s nothing quite like the cinema for bringing the family together in quiet awe. Apart from when the arguments start over sweet or salted popcorn… our advice? Just get nachos instead! EMPIRECINEMAS.CO.UK

Game on at Harry’s Game Shack

When rainy days hit the city, there’s no better place to escape than to Harry’s Game Shack. It’s time to go head to head and see who’s the top gamer in your family. This gem on Fawcett Street features an array of classic games as well as modern hits and big tournaments - if you feel like taking on the city’s best! Here, you can play on retro consoles while little ones go mad on the incredibly popular ‘Weeknight, ‘Fort Knight’, ‘Fortnite’? Who knows?! HARRYSGAMESHACK.COM

A football reminisce with the Fans Museum

Sunderland is a city in love with football. So in love, that it’s got an incredible museum dedicated to finding and displaying intriguing football memorabilia from around the world. The collection spans decades and of course focuses heavily on the city’s beloved Sunderland AFC. Take in some culture and dive head first into the Mackem passion. Speaking of football… FANS MUS EUM.ORG

Football frenzy at the Stadium Of Light Bold bites at Stack Seaburn

After all that outdoor fun, we’re certain you’ll have built up a big appetite again! Get yourselves along to Stack Seaburn and take your pick from the variety of street food vendors within the trendy shipping container complex. Tacos for the tots and pizza for the parents, there’s something for everyone at this cool container complex. STACK SEABU RN.C OM


You’ve seen it on the Netflix hit series ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ and maybe you’ve even been to a few matches in the past, either way you’ll agree there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere when the Black Cats go into action. Seeing Sunderland play is a must when you’re in the city and with a good number of home fixtures coming up, you and the family can get yourself along to see the lads live! Get kitted out at the official club shop and you’ll find yourself lost in the magic on the terraces in no time. HAWAY THE LADS! SAFC.COM

Strike out at Sunderland Bowl

Take to the lanes and finish your perfect family day out by bagging a few strikes at Sunderland Bowl. This cool hangout has been a fixture in the city for years now, but it’s recent renovation has taken it to the next level when it comes to fun. As well as flashy new lanes, Sunderland Bowl has also installed a nine hole mini golf course and a range of competitive electronic games such as ‘Smart Darts’. Remember, it’s not always about the winning, it’s the taking part that counts… win, lose or draw, you’ll be going home tonight having had a day filled with fun. S UNDERLANDBOW L.CO.UK




Mackem monsters to return as part of Sunderland’s 22 - 31 October Lights Out festival… Celebrating the spookiest time of year, Lights Out festival returns with a vengeance for 2021 as Sunderland BID celebrate Halloween in style from 22 to 31 October. Here’s everything you need to know as fright season whistles into the city centre for a devishly good time… 10 days of inflatable creatures, larger-thanlife monsters, spooky stories and a petrifying parade will be emerging and taking over the streets of Wearside shortly, as Sunderland BID's beloved Lights Out Festival gears up for an emphatic return to the streets of Sunderland city centre! In what's shaping up to be a carnival of special spooks and surprises this autumn, the city will soon welcome six inflatable Mackem Monsters to various iconic buildings around the city centre. What's more? The BID’s highly-popular Sunderland Experience app will make a welcome return and allow you and your intrepid hunters to find augmented reality creatures at various ghoulish points. As a reward for those who use the app,

visitors will get exclusive access to a range of discounts and offers for businesses across the city. We did tell you there was a devilishly good time planned! Sunderland BID have been beavering away ensuring that 2021’s celebrations are bigger and better than ever this year and boy, have they pulled out the bag with the inaugural Halloween Community Parade! Lights Out will culminate in a spectacular Halloween parade, created by carnival experts, Creative Seed along with Sunderland College, the University of Sunderland and community groups. This first-of-its-kind parade will take place on 29 October and travel through the city in what's shaping up to be a week-long carnival of unmissable events.

What's more? Youngsters will also have the chance to show off their creative skills by entering the Spooky Stories competition, where they have to tell a tale of terror in no more than 500 words! A beloved, family-friendly event that offers so much to our wonderful city, Lights Out Festival will offer a programme of outstanding events and entertainment for all members of the family to enjoy and immerse themselves in! Keep your eyes peeled for further updates as Sunderland goes bump in the night this autumn... For those wanting to find out more on Sunderland BID’s Halloween celebrations, check out 13

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Where We Are Now Throughout autumn

Autumn highlights with Sunderland Cu​​lture

Take a look at some seriously cool cultural happenings going on at Sunderland Culture's world-class venues...

Where We Are Now explores the experiences of the last year through artwork, community response and Sunderland residents' photography. The exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Sunderland based community groups. These community groups have worked alongside the team at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens to select and interpret artworks from the Arts Council Collection, opening discussion on themes including, isolation, community, family, nature, systems of care, self care, illness and loss. Also on display are community sourced photographs from Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens Collecting COVID-19 project and artworks produced during and in response to the pandemic. SUNDERLANDMUS EUM.ORG.UK

Field for the British Isles by Sir Antony Gormley Until 25 September Make sure you don’t miss the chance to see Field for the British Isles by Sir Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, which is on display at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in National Glass Centre until 25th September! This awe-inspiring artwork, which comprises 40,000 unique clay figures, is on loan from the prestigious Arts Council Collection which is an important national loan collection of modern and contemporary British Art. It's the first time Gormley has exhibited in Sunderland, so book your free tickets now before it’s too late! You can also enjoy a free family trail inspired by Field for the British Isles. N ORT H ERNGALLE RYFORC ONTE MPORARYART.ORG.UK

Antony Gormley: Earth Drawings Until 25 September 2021 To coincide with Sir Antony Gormley’s installation, Field for the British Isles, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens are hosting an exhibition of twelve drawings made by Gormley between 1986 – 1992. The twelve drawings, selected by Antony Gormley, are made from red-coloured earth mixed with rabbit skin glue and water, black pigment and blood. SUNDE RLANDMUSE UM.ORG.UK 14

A scintillating day out at National Glass Centre

Explore the city’s rich history of glass making and enjoy an epic international exhibition programme that showcases the work of leading contemporary artists through stunning glass and ceramic displays. From mid-October, NGC Glass Prize will open in the main gallery showcasing spectacular glass pieces from artists working across Europe which have been specially selected by a panel of judges. On your visit, you can also book into one of National Glass Centre’s free glass making demonstrations, enjoy a bit of retail therapy in their stunning shop, or treat yourself to lunch in their scenic riverside café, The Glass Yard. NATIONALG LASSCENTRE.COM


Theatre returns to Arts Centre Washington! After a hiatus of 18 months performance returns to Arts Centre Washington this autumn with a fantastic programme of live theatre! From thought-provoking productions on the complexities of masculinity, to a sensational one-women tour de force theatre production about the disappearance of Agatha Christie, the stage is truly set at Arts Centre Washington… SESSIONS 30th September A raw, funny, bittersweet deepdive into the complexities of masculinity, depression and therapy by exciting new writer, Ifeyinwa Frederick is arriving at Arts Centre Washington this September. SESSIONS follows the story of Tunde who is just about to celebrate his 30th birthday. He’s just started therapy because he hasn’t been able to get to the gym for weeks and a recent one-night stand ended in tears – his own. A thoughtprovoking production that examines the challenge of opening up and accepting our own vulnerabilities, SESSIONS is quite simply unmissable!



The Killer Question 23rd September There’s an epic dark comedy thriller taking to the stage this autumn as The Silence of the Lambs meets Last Of The Summer Wine in an eclectic stage mash-up. Former game show champion Walter Crump lives for murder (it was even his specialist subject on the nerve shredding, general knowledge quiz show The Chair). But did his obsession with death ultimately lead to his own? That’s certainly what Inspector Black believes, and now it is Crump’s dopey widow Margaret who finds herself in the chair – accused of her husband’s murder. Will Inspector Black solve the mystery? Who will prove to be the ultimate victim of The Chair? And, just as important, which actor will play which character… YOU decide!


Where Is Mrs Christie? 7th October

Sunderland Women’s Centre

In 1926, Agatha Christie, one of the greatest thriller writers of all time was at the centre of a mystery as perplexing as any of her fiction when the famous author was missing! Her crashed car was discovered in Surrey and the famous author presumed dead by many, for eleven days. Join the fantastic Liz Grand as she stars in a thrilling onewoman theatre show about the disappearance of one of the UK’s finest fiction writers.

Sunderland Women’s Centre has over 35 year’s experience of offering community learning & support in the heart of the city. The centre has a very informal, positive and friendly atmosphere, encouraging women of all ages to take time for themselves and meet new people while doing something they enjoy. Childcare is onsite for children of women attending the centre.

Come and join us on our new short/part-time courses starting September 21! Visit our website to find out more about our courses.

Open Monday - Thursday Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

0191 567 7495 Email: Sunderland Women’s Centre, 8 Green Terrace, Sunderland, SR1 3PZ



Drawing a fine line Kathryn Robertson is a local lass from Wearside lighting up Sunderland with striking murals that nod back to the city’s illustrious heritage. One of the North East’s leading lights when it comes to handdrawn art from the heart, Matthew Thomas checks in with Kathryn, a graduate of the University's Graphic Design programme, as she reveals all about her latest projects and how the North East holds a special place in her heart… What is the North East like for a freelance artist? I’m currently managing to make freelancing a full-time thing and I still have to pinch myself on the regular that it worked out this way. I’ve worked closely with people like Sunderland Culture and Sunderland City Council who have always been massively supportive of my practice, and they’re keen to keep creatives in the city by providing opportunity, and I think that’s what makes it a much more attractive 16

prospect to be freelancing in the North East at the moment. I can actually afford things like a small studio space and I’m not sure I could afford that elsewhere. The North East is a good place to be a freelance artist. I’m sure experiences vary, but I do feel incredibly lucky that my work and style has struck a chord with people to enable me to do it full time. I’m not sure I would have had the same types of opportunities if I’d gone to Londonstraight away. How has Sunderland affected your creativity? When I was a teenager, I didn’t appreciate Sunderland as a place very much at all. I thought being somewhere bigger and better would define me as a person, increase my creativity and enable me to do whatever I wanted to do. As I got older, I started to fall in love with Sunderland and all of it’s quirks, I realised I’d been looking in the wrong places for things, and my opinion completely changed. I also realised that I’d been inspired by the North East and all of it’s wonderfulness and daftness way more than I had realised.

Tell us a little about the creative scene in Sunderland at the minute... There’s a DIY attitude which has existed since way before my time, and it makes things more understated and interesting. We now know how fragile the arts and creative industries are, and so people here want to nurture it all and it’s very encouraging. This applies to independent businesses and venues too; we have some extremely talented artists, illustrators, photographers, designers, performers, musicians here.




I like to improvise whatever I’m doing based on a rough plan and challenge myself with the spontaneity of just showing up with some materials and a blank canvas. I think I have quite a playful style, heavily influenced by the past, present and future workings of a city.

Was a career in art always something you wanted to follow? Ultimately yes, but I didn’t think it was a thing that I could pursue when I was looking at my career options at a younger age. Getting a “proper job” was what I thought needed to happen. Work was something that everyone had to do and nobody enjoyed it. Drawing was a hobby and you’d have to be pretty good or pretty lucky to make a living from it. I think it was

Do you have a favourite art piece among your work? A drawing titled ‘Everything will be alright in the end’ which raised a bunch of dosh for local food-banks. I hope to do some more print designs when I have fewer public projects on the go. There’s nothing better than being able to raise money for good causes and people actually wanting to display something you’ve made in their home.

always what I had to do though, it’s the only thing that keeps me right. Tell us about your particular style? What do you enjoy the most about this particular art form? I have a few layers to my practice at the moment; graphics, illustration, and murals. Something I find the most rewarding and enjoyable at the moment is murals and wall painting.

Could you foster a child?

What does the future look like for Kr. illustrates? I’d like to put on a solo exhibition of my work somewhere. Long term, I’d like to get into designing large scale work within the environment with more typography and colour. I’d also really like to write and design a graphic novel too!

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4-8 October 2021


Sunderland Business Festival is here and what a jam-packed week there is in store for the city! Whether you’re checking out the business hub, looking to join a series of exclusive sessions on how to fund your business or enjoying the Let’s Call Karen initiative, Sunderland Business Festival is shaping up to be one to remember.


Time for entrepreneurs day! Be sure to head into the city and pitch your business idea to a panel of experts and receive invaluable feedback from business specialists!


The Bridges Means Business With Sunderland Business Festival whistling into the city this autumn, the Bridges are pulling out all the stops during their highly-anticipated enterprise week as they back bold business in Sunderland... Huge news for the city! The Bridges and other major organisations from Sunderland have come together to celebrate the city's transformational developments and emerging businesses in a week-long, free to attend festival across the city. To celebrate the inaugural Sunderland Business Festival, Wearside’s everpopular shopping centre, the Bridges, have devised their own programme of totally unique events to coincide with the autumn celebrations. Already home to an eclectic range of high-street stores and vibrant independent businesses, our friends at the Bridges have once again showcased that they’re more than just a shopping centre, by inviting people to get involved with a series of events designed to help people back into work, offer top tips when it comes to job interviews and sharing invaluable 18

advice on how to establish a highstreet presence. Transforming their world-class facilities into an in-situ business hub for the week, the Bridges will welcome people from far and wide to the centre to learn more about the business opportunities around them. A stand-out event that is set to shine is Let’s Call Karen; a unique event which will see the Bridges’ very own Centre Director visit various businesses and offer expert advice to staff and even try her hand at other roles! Just one of the many highlights set to shine bright this autumn, let’s take a deeper look at the bold business events arriving at the Bridges…

Wednesday 6 October is shaping up to be a brilliant day for the city! Get ready for a work day that sees a formalwear pop-up shop arrive, free advice from hair and beauty artists as well as tons of free giveaways. That’s not all either - there’ll also be a post it wall; an area for people to display jobs with information in the Bridges and a speed careers information point. A brilliant idea where you can visit throughout the day for 10 min chats about various employment opportunities. Our pick of the bunch? You’d be a fool to miss the Bridges’ From Online to Bricks and Mortar workshop. Here, you’ll learn all about the ins and outs on how to move your business into the Bridges and give your beloved business a physical presence on the high street. What an opportunity!


The Bridges means business! Thursday will see a raft of sessions arrive in the city, with expert advice on perfecting your CV, intelligent IT workshops designed to help your résumé stand-out and even more general careers advice.


As the curtain begins to close on the first Sunderland Business Festival, be sure to check out Bridges Has Talent; a fab workshop from Istage Group on how to embark on a career in arts and entertainment. MBC Wellbeing and Theatre Space North East will be on hand to answer all your burning questions and give you top-tips on how to get started in the arts and culture sector. Friday 8 October will also welcome a hospitality jobs fair to the centre where you’ll be able to showcase your talents and chat to businesses with new openings in Sunderland and beyond.


Bridges’ sensational student shopping night returns! 27 September We check in on the Bridges to find out what’s coming to the city’s leading shopping centre this autumn …


As our wonderful city begins to welcome thousands of students from across the region back to Sunderland, the Bridges are tearing up the rule book and inviting university students from across the North East to dive into some of the biggest brands at killer prices thanks to the return of their iconic student shopping night. Renowned amongst students and university freshers alike, the Bridges' Student Shopping Night will be laying on an evening of exclusive discounts, free giveaways, exhilarating competitions and cool entertainment come 27 September. Always a firm favourite in the social diaries of newcomers to the city and veteran students, the Bridges Student Shopping Night presents a fabulous opportunity for shoppers to get their hands on discounted goodies for some seriously sweet prices. From cool clobber at JD Sports, homely decorations at Next and university essentials piled-high at Primark, the Student Shopping Night always comes up trumps when it comes to stocking students with great kit, from great retailers at low prices. So, expect a night of crazy deals, extended lines and late-night shopping as the Bridges’ iconic student shopping raid returns to the city centre on 27 September! We can't wait to see the city centre flowing with smiling faces once again! To find out more about the return of the Bridges' Student Shopping Night, head to THEBRIDGES-SHOPPING.COM



GREAT READS OPEN BOOKMARK IN THE BRIDGES Speaking of bold businesses arriving in the city, the Bridges have welcomed a brand new store to their vibrant business community and what a little gem Great Reads has turned out to be! Standing next to O2, Great Reads is the city’s newest book store and they’re a brilliant bunch who offer the bookworms out there everything from best-selling hardbacks, colourful cook-books from the globe’s greatest chefs and a raft of brill children's toys and puzzles to choose from - all at a discounted price. Whether you're keen on catching up with Arsène Wenger's football memoirs, want to see why everyone fell in love with Matt Haig's The Midnight Library or desperate to dive into Douglas Stuart's stunning debut novel Shuggie Bain, a trip to Great Reads is certain to have a paperback blockbuster for you. With Halloween and Christmas just around the corner, we have a sneaky suspicion that this bold new business will be pretty busy stocking the very best novels out there. Be sure to pop in to Great Reads next time you're shopping the very best of the high-street at the Bridges. THEBRIDGES-SHOPPING.COM


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Work of a Master Following his father’s sudden death, Simon Whitaker embraced the pain of a life-changing bereavement and harnessed the hurt into a source of creativity to follow his inherent passion for fashion. Matthew Thomas checks in with the master debonair himself, Simon Whitaker, for an exclusive chat about his brand new store at Mackie's Corner, improving men's mental health through fashion and helping to shape the future of Sunderland… Tell us a little about yourself? When did the enthusiasm for fashion begin? Where do I start? I’m 48 years old, Sunderland born and I have worked many jobs, in many industries for 15 years. I worked my way up to a very senior sales role before I set up Master Debonair. How did the inspiration for Master Debonair come about? I get asked this a lot and it’s not Peaky Blinders! The inspiration for Master Debonair? I lost my Dad suddenly in November 2016 and it made me realize that I needed to take it easy after working flat out on my career for way too long and stop neglecting myself and family. When I was getting my outfit ready for his funeral, I wanted a different tie clip, lapel pin, pocket square but couldn’t find anything special. My dad was such a great


dresser and loved his clothes. I think that’s where my passion for clothes came from. I came away from his funeral and wondered if I could set up a menswear company selling things I couldn’t find anywhere. It began to snowball as I bought accessories from the Far East, set up a Facebook page then found a few suit suppliers, shoes and shirts. I built our first website from scratch, showcased style icons we liked on Facebook and it just went nuts! How is Master Debonair different from other menswear brands? I’d say we are more focused on the experience in-store. We put so much effort into making our shops a relaxed environment for visitors. I much prefer the ‘lesspolished’ approach and what you see is what you get with us. We don’t take ourselves too seriously

and want to have fun with Master Debonair - both in-store and online. How do you source new styles and ranges for Master Debonair? I look at refreshing our collections every 3 months and ensure we have a core collection throughout the year. Launching the casualwear aspect in 2019 gave us the twist to Master Debonair that we were searching for, rather than just out and out formalwear. I love the smart casual look of a shirt, waistcoat, blazer, jeans and brogues it’s timeless. When I buy new products I tend to buy looks, not individual products. When I see new seasonal items, I can pull them out and create looks from the pieces. I find it easier to shop that way myself and our customers like that about us. It seems that more and more gentlemen are taking pride in their clothing and appearance now. Do you feel that the perception of menswear and self-care has changed over the years?

Yes massively! The fact that skin products and mens makeup is a huge market tells you that. What I love about our offering here at Master Debonair, is that customers walk into the store feeling not-so confident and walk out feeling incredible in their new outfits. Our customers vary massively and each individual may have a slightly different way of wearing our products or styling them, but they all want to feel great in what they wear. Men seem more at ease talking about clothes and their personal appearance now and I love that. The brand is founded on a concept of ‘effortlessly stylish’ clothing – talk a bit about what that means to you? I always say I get dressed in the dark, but what I mean by that is I can pull an outfit together in minutes. It’s effortless and based around a lot of customer feedback. I feel sometimes the more thought you put in you can look too polished. That’s ok for some but I love the crossover of casual and formal wear, tearing up the rule book and going with whatever it is you're feeling. I want to make it easy for the men and women who shop with us to look and most importantly, feel great. Master Debonair has won a raft of awards since its inception, is there a particular achievement that stands out or means more than others? This is a tough question. The two, highly-coveted Drapers awards were huge, milestone achievements for us. To be recognised in your own industry is a big one for us and then to win best new independent within the first



across all kinds of old receipts, newspapers from the 60s, a tin of peas, cigarette boxes and so on. We’re going to frame and display them all around the shop!

Now is the time for the independent sector. I believe the independent market gives so much better service and an experience than the corporations. I see local coffee shops in Sunderland promoting other coffee shops. I’ve travelled all over and never seen this before.

What can people expect when walking through the doors at Master Debonair? A warm welcome, glass of water, hot brew or beer. Plus a very, very relaxed environment. There’ll be chairs where you can hang out and no pushy sales. We are here to help. Our shops were designed around hotel lounges/bars and we want visitors to stay as long as they like and we don’t expect people to walk out after making a purchase. We’re a community here at Master Debonair.

As we head into the summer, what does the rest of 2021 hold for Master Debonair? We are finalising the new Sunderland shop so that’s pretty much the main priority. We’re also moving our Head Office here too so it’s a big job but incredibly exciting. I’ve had an office on the building site for months now so I'm looking forward to being dust and dirt free soon.

Do you think that people now have a greater interest in local business and if so, do you see this lasting?

year then to win best retailer in 2019 was totally unexpected. I get goosebumps just talking about it! A day in the life… My world is a whirlwind journey at the minute. I wake up most mornings no later than 6am and go to personal training two mornings a week, as well as embarking on a bike ride on a Sunday. I’ve learnt ‘me’ time is very important and I treasure it. I start my working week on a Sunday at 5pm once our shops close preparing for a Monday. I don’t get Monday blues! My role is product selection, weekly purchasing, content creation, wandering round the city looking at new ideas, drink 10 double espressos per day and overseeing my management team. I like to meet businesses, speak to our customers on social media and try new places for coffee and cheesecake!

Let’s talk about your new store in Sunderland. What was it that made Mackie’s Corner such an attractive location to open a new store? I looked at Mackie’s Corner over 2 years ago. There were hardly any other businesses in the building and it was incredibly derelict. In December last year, I decided to walk over and have another look. I just knew Master Debonair to be in Mackie’s Corner. Plus with being Sunderland born and bred, I knew this was an opportunity to play a small part in the redevelopment of the city. Anything interesting to come out of the renovation? Did you come across any period gems? We’ve unearthed so many incredible things during the renovation. Uncovering the original steel staircase is the biggest find which is being carefully restored to its former glory. We’ve come



You can now visit Master Debonair's flagship store at Mackie's Corner.

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24-hours in the life of Robot Dog:

the University of Sunderland’s latest recruit It’s been anything but a dog’s life for the University of Sunderland’s latest recruit who is fast becoming the centre of attention on campus. The University’s Faculty of Technology always prides itself on being on the cutting edge – but have they bitten off more they can chew after enlisting Bernard the Robot Dog? Sunderland Vibe spent 24-hours following the metal mutt around campus and discovered that he’s having quite an impact on both students and staff.

9am It’s an early start in the University library for Bernard and he brushes up on some studying. Part of his role at the University will involve research projects. Bernard knows that he has a big task in front of him and he’s determined to come out as the top dog.

2pm After a relaxing lunch with some pedigree chums, Bernard climbs the stairs towards the Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre where he will be enjoying an afternoon of work learning about his new tasks for the Faculty of Technology.

11am After all that brainwork, this canine is ready for a cuppa, so he heads over to the café in Prospect building, plonking himself down in a comfy seat and enjoying a brew. He notices a few stares from students, but this doesn’t bother him too much – he knows he’s one pretty pup.


12pm Heading out the café and across the quad, he notices someone is barking at him for a selfie, so this posing pooch is happy to oblige and the student snaps away.




Q&A with Professor John Murray We caught up with Professor John Murray to learn more about Bernard… Why does the University have Bernard? We are currently investing into the Faculty of Technology. Bernard is one of the most, if not the most, advanced quadrupedal robot in development, and there are only a handful of other universities within the UK that have access to this technology. As we are reimagining Computer Science and Engineering, Bernard sits at the forefront of these disciplines with the latest engineering and computing technology. 4pm Time for an afternoon stroll with owner Professor John Murray who threw Bernard a bone and brought him to the University. Professor Murray aims to use Bernard as an example of how his faculty is leading the way in technology.

6pm Just as he is heading back to his kennel for the night, Bernard bumps into an old friend who is also out for a walk along the riverside at St Peter’s. The pals shoot the breeze, discuss their days and swap top tips on the best nearby grooming parlours. It’s always nice to catch up with fellow canines.

8pm It’s been a long day, so Bernard heads off from the campus for the day, safe in the knowledge he’s bringing not only vital technology research to the University, but also putting a lot of smiles on people’s faces – after all, he is man’s best friend.

What is his purpose? The robot will be used for promoting technology and the Faculty of Technology at outreach events, open days and recruitment. He will be used to showcase what technology can do and how it can be used in an applied way to solve tasks. We will also be using Bernard for research projects. I am currently working on a search and rescue scenario for having Bernard be able to administer treatment to trapped and injured people in hazardous environments. Coupled with our new Automated Industry 4.0 factory lab this will form the centre point of the faculty. How will the University’s students benefit? The technology that goes into creating, designing, programming and controlling Bernard will be embedded into the curriculum for students to learn how these technologies work, but also how they can be used in industry. There will be opportunities for students to try controlling the robot, if they support outreach and open day events they will be able to take care of the robot, showcasing it to visitors. However, project students will also have the opportunity to take on final year and MSc dissertation projects that use the robot, where they can look at writing code, designing sensors, evaluating applications of the robot for industrial applications and projects.

For more information about the University of Sunderland, visit 23

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Business Festival showcases Sunderland: city of opportunities Sunderland is launching its first ever business festival, a celebration of the dynamic companies based in the city and the opportunities they create for local people. City of Sunderland Business Festival will take place between October 4 - 8 and will shine a spotlight on the innovative businesses based in the city, as well as the transforming skyline that is attracting many more to Sunderland. It will also connect local people to job opportunities, inspire business people with thought-provoking speeches and sessions from world-class speakers and showcase the industries that are driving the economic regeneration of the city. Delivered by Sunderland Business Partnership – a collective of more than 50 businesses from or with an interest in Sunderland – and sponsored by Sunderland City Council, the Festival will combine in-person events with virtual sessions, roundtables and talk-ins to bring to life Sunderland’s vibrant business scene. While there will be an emphasis on Sunderland’s businesses, many of the Festival's discussions will appeal to business people from outside of the city. A series of themed panel discussions will explore how Sunderland’s business landscape is growing and changing, while events aimed at residents – including Bridges Means Business, a week-long event in the Bridges shopping centre, and a Recruitment Fair at the Stadium of Light on October 6 - will support residents to land their dream job or take the leap into self-employment. Chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, 24

Ellen Thinnesen, who is also chief executive of Education Partnership North East which includes Sunderland College, said: “This will be a unique, engaging and vibrant festival that will inspire both our businesses and our residents. “Sunderland is an ambitious city and through this Festival, we will showcase the amazing businesses that call it home, as well as ensuring that our residents are connected to the opportunities they create to provide rewarding careers for them and their family.” Leading experts from across the globe will be part of the line-up for business-focused events, while residents attending the Recruitment Fair at the Stadium of Light will be supported with information on training options, job opportunities and guidance. Also included within the programme are a series of lively sessions at the Bridges shopping centre that include speed careers “dating”, an entrepreneurs day and a spotlight on homegrown businesses that started life as a hobby and have since become hugely successful.

“It was very important for the Bridges to be part of the festival and to stage our own programme of events,” said Karen Eve, centre manager at the Bridges. “Giving people a chance to get on the business ladder or to build their existing business is something I’m very passionate about and I hope we will help them get the tools they need.” Businesses from across the region are being encouraged to sign up to take part in City of Sunderland Business Festival, either attending events and virtual seminars, or showcasing their vacancies at the Recruitment Fair. Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council said: “Sunderland is transforming, and with that we’re seeing more and better job opportunities for local people and an increasingly dynamic economy where businesses support and encourage each other. “We’re really delighted to be supporting an event that will bring the city’s incredible business landscape into sharp focus and ensure that companies and residents are inspired to achieve more and play an active role in Sunderland’s success.”


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Sunderland College students achieve outstanding results! Sunderland College’s students have their sights set on university and taking the next steps towards exciting careers after collecting their A-Level and vocational and technical results. Sunderland Vibe reveals all about a record-breaking results day… Despite the challenges faced over the past 12 months, students at Sunderland College discovered that their hard work, resilience and adaptability had been rewarded, with many accepting offers to study degrees at some of the UK’s top institutions or moving into apprenticeships and further employment opportunities. The college’s Bede and City campuses welcomed hundreds of A-Level students who nervously opened envelopes to find out their grades after exams were cancelled for the second successive year.

alongside BTEC Sports Science. The talented athlete, who is among the top 10 runners in the country in her age group, will be studying Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University after achieving Distinction*, A* and A. She said: “Coming to Sunderland College has given me the opportunity to become more independent and study the subjects I want. I came here not knowing anyone, but the teachers are really supportive, and I would 100% recommend

Following a rigorous approval process, their results were assessed based on evidence such as assessments, coursework, homework, and performance in class. The college’s sixth form recorded an impressive 100% overall pass rate for A-Levels with 65.4% of students receiving high grades of A*- B. Outstanding achievements included Sam Percival, 18, from Silksworth, who achieved A*A*A* in Biology, Chemistry and Maths and is now heading to the University of Birmingham to study Medicine. “I never expected results that good. So much hard work has gone into achieving what I have, and it’s finally paid off. “The support from the college has been excellent and at the moment, I’m thinking of becoming a GP, but we’ll see what the future brings.” Eighteen-year-old Tia Anderson, from Wheatley Hill, studied Law and Criminology

Sunderland College.” Students on vocational and technical courses were also invited to collect results, which saw an overall pass rate of 97.9% an increase on 2020 – with specialist work-related courses such as Health and Social Care, Applied Science, Engineering, Computing and Digital recording a 100% pass rate. Megan Ellison, 18, who will study Adult Nursing at the University of Sunderland after receiving Distinction*, Distinction, Distinction in Health and Social Care, said: “It’s been a particularly difficult year working independently, but the results I have received are well deserved from the assignments I have done.” Another ecstatic student, Katherine Lee, will be attending Sheffield Hallam University after gaining Distinction*, Distinction, Distinction in Applied Science. She said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic to receive my results and be going on to study


Diagnostic Radiography. "Sunderland College has given me more confidence and lecturers genuinely care about the subject and helping you achieve.” Twins Keanu and Kenu Bell are looking to progress to higher education after receiving Distinctions in Engineering. “I was so pleased I had passed, said Keanu. “Sunderland College has helped us achieve good grades in our chosen subject and decide on our future careers.” Brother Kenu added: “Remote learning was difficult at first, but we had lots of resources available, and the tutors were so helpful. If you’re thinking of studying at Sunderland College, go for it!” Usually, students receive their results in mid-August, however, results day was brought forward this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Toni Rhodes, Principal, said: “We are really proud of all our students, despite what has been an exceptionally challenging time, our students have demonstrated their resilience throughout and continued to strive for excellent results. “The results really are a testament to all their hard work and how they have adapted to the situation. We wish every one of them success in their next steps.” Enrolment for Sunderland College’s A-Level, vocational, T Level and higher education courses have now started! If you’re unsure of your next steps and want to find out how to start your journey towards an exciting future, visit for more information.

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Sunniside up for city’s old quarter From red brick buildings and cobbled streets to colourful lighting and public art, Sunniside is a stunning blend of old and new. And as the area reinvents itself as the creative quarter of Sunderland, it’s ‘Sunniside up’ for this historic part of the city centre, as Vibe discovers. Sunderland city centre is transforming. With £350m of live development projects underway at Riverside Sunderland, there is a sense of change in the air. And though the buildings of Sunniside have stood strong through three centuries of change, they too are part of the city’s transformation, as this historic quarter establishes itself as the creative heart of Sunderland. Long the home of professional services businesses and a range of leisure facilities, Sunniside and the surrounding old streets, are changing. From new restaurants and bars, to creative businesses, there is a wave of change in Sunniside, and much more to come. Eighty new homes with studios are planned for the area, perfect for artists looking for an urban base that will support their work. Meanwhile, old buildings like the former lawcourts on John Street are set to become attractive student apartments, and on the same street,

exciting eateries like Spent Grain and cafes like Coffeehaus are adding to the food and drink scene in the heart of the city. Throw in a new business hub on the corner of St Thomas Street, and a regenerated Mackies’ Corner – a cornucopia of wonderful independents - and this is set to become an increasingly vibrant and busy part of Sunderland.

“Sunniside is a stunning part of the city centre already and there is a great deal of work going into making it even better.” Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council. “The area’s connection to High Street West, which is a key part of the Riverside Sunderland Central Business District, means that it will become an increasingly important part of the city centre as we push ahead with the transformation of the place. With a blend of business, leisure and housing, Sunniside is becoming an evermore dynamic part of the city centre.”

For inspiration and great city centre days out,


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Looking back to look forward… September 1964 - September 2030

As Sunderland embarks on a bold city-wide transformation, we’re taking a look at our illustrious past as we prepare to embrace a daring, forwardthinking future for our city…

Photo: TWAM

This set of breathtaking, aerial images from the 1950s showcases the vibrant industrial era of the River Wear from the Piers to Pallion. It serves as a timely reminder as to the incredible heritage of our city, while giving us an exclusive view of what life on the River Wear looked like during the heyday years of the Twentieth Century. Home to a thriving marine engineering industry, these incredible images from Tyne & Wear & Archives & Museum showcase famous shipyards such as Austin & Pickersgill, J.L. Thompson & Sons and Sir James Laing & Sons. Also

Photo: TWAM nestled in these pictures are the engine works of William Doxford and George Clark. Other industries also featured such as glassmaking and of course, the key industry of coal mining. Mining is represented by images of Wearmouth Colliery and the riverside coal staithes a vital element to the booming coal trade online. Now, we’re looking back to look forward, as Sunderland embarks on a transformational regeneration of the city centre which will offer people a world-class place to live, work and play.

Photo: TWAM

The masterplan, which is backed by millions of pounds of public and private sector investment, will transform the former Vaux Brewery site and surrounding areas like Sheepfolds, Galley’s Gill, and High Street West. It will also create the UK’s first carbonneutral urban quarter in a stunning location on the banks of the River Wear, with dramatic views across the city. A game-changing project for the future of Sunderland, sometimes all you need to do is look back, to look forward and see how far we've come…



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Did you know? Downloading our Step up Sunderland app and tracking your daily steps opens up a huge range of fantastic citywide rewards and discounts. There’s everything from your daily coffee, sports and physical activity in the city, local shopping and even family days out! If you haven’t downloaded the FREE app yet, now’s the time to get one step closer to better health and wellbeing and receiving some great local rewards. You can download the app for FREE from the Google Play and Apple App stores.

Motivate your self with daily BADGES and ACHIEVEMENTS Be part of a TEAM


Healthy changes start with little changes The last 18 months have taken their toll on everyone’s health and wellbeing one way or another. From our mental fitness to our physical wellbeing, our energy levels, eating and drinking habits and sleep cycles, there are very few of us whose health has not been affected at some stage during the pandemic. And with September heralding a new start - not just of the school year, but for good intentions in all aspects of our lives - we’ve put together this handy guide to help reboot your routine and kick-start new health habits.

Better health let’s do this Healthy changes start with little changes. Whether you want to lose weight, get active or quit smoking, Better Health - a campaign from the NHS - is here with lots of free tools and support. Take a look around the site for inspiration and advice

Appy days A healthier lifestyle can start with your phone (yes, really!) There are loads of free apps to help you kickstart your journey to better health. From Couch to 5k, a running app for absolute beginners, to Active 10 starting with 10 minutes of exercise a day, through to meal ideas, cooking tips and recipes with Easy Meals, at the click of a button your health journey begins. Find out more at

Move more No matter how much you do, physical activity is good for your body and mind. Adults should aim to be active every day. Some is good - more is better still. For ideas check out active

Stoptober Did you know that if you can manage to quit smoking for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to quit for good? Stopping smoking is no mean feat. But with one in two smokers likely to die early as a result of smoking, the health risks are huge. Research also shows that you’re at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid if you smoke. Download the free NHS Smokefree app to help you quit smoking and start breathing easier. The app allows you to track your progress, see how much money you’re saving and get daily support. And with the annual ‘quit month’ of Stoptober just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to stop. Search and download the Smoke Free App, or contact the Sunderland Stop Smoking Service for help and support. Call 0800 169 9913 or visit www.stopsmokingsunderland.

Look after your mind Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. You can find expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing at the Every Mind Matters website. Visit For local help and support see

Weigh it up If you’re looking for help to lose weight, check out the new Sunderland Weight Management Programme. It’s free and available to anyone over 18 who lives in the city or is registered with a Sunderland GP and has qualifying body mass index. You’ll get; • 12 weeks of tailored help and support from our wellbeing experts • Meet like minded people who can help you stay on track and reach your goals • Weekly group sessions at venues across the city • Tailored physical activity sessions • Support with healthy eating • Help to make long term lifestyle changes • Tips to help your mental health with mindfulness techniques Visit health-wellbeing

Take a break from the drink Feel healthier, lose weight and save money by picking your days to go drink-free. One simple way to cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink is to have at least a few drink free days every week. The Drink Free Days App allows you to set goals and track your progress. Cutting down on the amount of alcohol you consume each week leads to better sleep, fewer calories in your diet and more cash in the bank. Search and download the Drink Free Days App on your device or visit drink-less

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Field Music 26 September

Diaries at the ready...

Now this is a gig to get giddy about! Mercury Music Prize nominated band and more importantly, Sunderland Vibe winter 2020 featurists, Field Music, are returning to the place where it all started and headlining a special home-coming show at The Peacock. One of the finest indie bands in the UK, Sunderland songwriting siblings Peter and David Brewis bring their critically acclaimed 5-piece to the city to celebrate the release of their latest studio effort, Flat White Moon. FACEBOOK.COM/ THEPEACOCKSUN

Kubix Festival 2 & 8 October Kubix Festival has a special line-up of world-class tunes arriving over Herrington Country park as tons of legendary bands and iconic DJs take to the stage across two separate days. Lovers of rock, indie, punk (and more) are well catered for, as a raft of legends such as the Levellers, Stiff Little Fingers, New Model Army, Cast, Futureheads, The Selecter, Sleeper, The Farm, The Wedding Present, Wilko Johnson and Primitives struff their stuff on 2 October. 8th Friday is a cool celebration of the finest names in dance pop; expect to see the likes of the Vengaboys, 2 Unlimited, N-Trance, East 17 and Ultra Naté.

Pip Blom 11 September Amsterdam’s beamy-grinned, indie-pop powerhouse rockers, Pip Blom are making a welcome return to the city with an exclusive, ‘welcome-back’ show at Independent. This effervescent outfit are one the globe’s fastest-rising artists renowned for their energetic live shows, Pip Blom originally rose from small pubs in the suburbs of Amsterdam to featuring on the European festival circuit with standout performances at Glastonbury and Lollapalooza. What’s more? When you bag your ticket, Independent are also inviting you to bring a friend along for free - we’ve all missed live music and going out for a few drinks before, so now is the time to come together, support incredible indie venues and dive into the magic of live music once again. INDEPENDENTSUNDERLAND.COM


Derren Brown 7 - 11 September

City Centre Christmas Lights Switch On 18 November

The multi award-winning master of mind control and psychological illusion, Derren Brown, is arriving at Sunderland Empire Theatre with a brand new live show. Receiver of wide critical acclaim and boasting more Olivier wins and nominations than any other performer in history, Derren Brown returns to live action as he astonishes and amaze audiences up and down the country. If you’ve seen him before, you know you’re in for a powerhouse treat…

It may seem a while off yet, but it won't be long until the festive season in Sunderland begins to twinkle once again! We've recently learned that our friends at Sunderland City Council are planning a magical Christmas celebration at Keel Square this winter. The team are busy finalising all the details but rest assured, you can be certain it'll be a scintillating carnival of yuletide fun that'll culminate in the all-important switching on ceremony.


TO A DV ERTI SE CALL 0 1 91 5 0 0 78 67 OR E MAIL R EB EC CA @ A L L I ES - G R O UP. C O M




The Digital Revolution is Coming to Sunderland This Autumn Selina Deeney is the Regional Marketing Manager for CityFibre. She is responsible for engaging stakeholders and customers across the town, promoting why full fibre is so important for Sunderland’s digital future. Who are CityFibre and what are they doing in Sunderland? CityFibre is building a brand new full fibre optic network across Sunderland as part of a £4 billion national investment programme. We will be connecting up to 8 million homes across the UK and creating over 60 Gigabit cities and towns who will benefit from ultra fast internet speeds. What is full fibre and what will it mean to me? Over 85% of broadband internet services marketed as ‘fibre’ today are only actually part fibre. They use fibre to the cabinet (the metal telecoms box) in your street, but then switch to slow and unreliable copper or cable TV style coaxial cabling to each property. And this is what slows us down. Full fibre, where fibre goes directly into your home, means no more buffering when you’re trying to watch the latest Netflix series, a better connection when making Skype calls and the kids can happily play on Fortnite without any complaints!

What does Gigabit mean? Standard broadband has average download speeds of around 6Mbps, ‘superfast broadband’ averages speeds of around 30Mbps, while broadband from our full fibre network is capable of Gigabit speeds of up to 1,000Mbps. How will I know when it’s coming to my area? We’ll drop a letter through your door before construction is due to start in your street to let you know we are coming. Once construction is complete, you will be contacted so you know how to connect. It roughly takes 6 months after we have built in your street to access services. What other benefits will this bring to Sunderland? This project will transform Sunderland into one of the best connected cities in the world, benefiting everyone from home workers to gamers, as well as creating new jobs and services. If you’d like to follow the build’s progress and be one of the first to know how you can enjoy gigabit capable broadband, register your interest at