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SUNDERLAND The city, coast & beyond... S U MMER 2 0 21
Unlock your full potential. Take your summer to the next level in a brand-new Audi A3.
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There’s a new chapter on the horizon for Sunderland, and our summer edition is here to reflect an exciting new era for our beautiful city. It’s been incredible to finally meet up with loved ones for a bite to eat and head out for a spot of shopping. Time away from the city has acted as a stark reminder of just how lucky we are to call it home. In this issue, we’re celebrating the return of Sunderland's hospitality scene, we're applauding another raft of Magical Mackems, and we're exploring Mackie’s Corner. All of that, plus the return of Sunderland Culture’s world-class venues as they kick things off again with a variety of stunning exhibitions, an exclusive interview with the founder of Midnight Pizza Crü, and our friends at Sunderland City Council give us a behind-the-scenes look at Lamplight Festival. This certainly feels like a milestone issue as our city returns to the vibrant place we all know and love. Our streets are alive again, our local businesses are raring to go and Sunderland is back in business. Stay safe, look after each other and enjoy!
Allies Group Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0SR Allies-group.com Publisher Christopher March email@example.com Editorial Matthew Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Rebecca Jackson email@example.com Design firstname.lastname@example.org 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, May 2021. ISSN 2633-4518
4 Vibe online
Our city through your lens
6 Midnight Pizza Crü A delicious new business
9 Summer of food
Sunderland Food & Drink Festival line-up
20 Culture fix
Getting back to arts and culture
10 Musical moments
The lowdown on Lamplight Festival
22 Mackie's Corner
All you need to know about this new hub
12 Fun for little ones
24 Vibe Vault
Inspiration for the summer hols
A Sunderland history lesson
14 Tomorrow's talent
30 Plan ahead
Checking in with Kohji Candles
Diaries at the ready...
16 Magical Mackems
Championing our local heroes
#SunderlandVibe TO ADVERTISE CALL 0191 500 7865 OR EMAIL REBECCA@ALLIES-GROUP.COM
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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...
@aphroditeclothing Our Store Manager Iain thinks all-American brand @ralphlauren is a great place to start when getting acquainted with our spring summer '21 collections.
@discoverthepalm Wind, rain or shine... we're here for a good time. We have noticed over this week coming the weather ain't on our side. The good old English weather doesn't stop good times in the tent and our covered garden.
@sunderlandvibe Lush seeing our city filled with friendly faces and our local businesses strutting their stuff last week. Let's keep it going gang.
@wild_firepizza DAMN, IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK! 6 hours of service yesterday at @colekitchenroker & we loved every minute. Thanks to @aadamcole for having us & everyone who came down. See you soon. WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! WA NT TO FEATU RE I N OU R NEXT ED ITION OF V I BE ONLINE? GET IN TO U CH V IA TWITTER, INSTAGR A M A ND FACEBOOK!
Keep us up to date @madfencer Guess what guys? It's Wave Wednesday again! Can totally see a face in this wave, can anyone else? Roker 6/4/2021.
with your Sunderland @stackseaburn Signing off on a fantastic week of being open! Thank you to everyone who visited us, we go again tomorrow.
shenanigans using the hashtag
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Hello hospitality: indoor icons
new menu available for dine-in or takeaway. From creamy pasta sauces, and delicious pizzas, the guys at Angelo’s are all about serving up the freshest Italian soul food, for a great price! Be sure to catch them at the Food & Drink Festival this year. ANGELOS RISTORANTE.CO.UK
Aperitif Bar & Kitchen
Undisclosed A slice of contemporary European cuisine has landed in the city centre and if the sound of exquisite, gastro inspired dishes brimming with flavour and authenticity has piqued your interest, then we’re pretty sure Undisclosed is the place for you. Brought to you from the team at Emily's Table, Undisclosed arrives in Sunderland city centre with a new and exciting dining experience through molecular gastronomy and cocktails. The first restaurant of its kind to set up shop in Sunderland, this lot are all about the theatre and showmanship of the fine dining experience. So, whether that be a quick call in for lunch or a special evening out with family and friends, you can be certain that Undisclosed will be serving up the goods unlike anywhere else in the North East. Did we mention that the owner and chef of Undisclosed, Christopher Spence will be kickstaring his time in the city with an incredibly special event for Sunderland’s Food & Drink Festival? Christopher will be working with renowned culinary expert and forager Alysia Vasey to create a fabulous foraged dinner experience on June 21st as part of the celebrations. It’s all happening over on St Johns Street! R ESTAU RANT-U NDISC LOSE D.C OM
Angelo’s Ristorante Let us set the scene... Italian favourites, in the city, at home - anywhere your belly desires! Angelo’s is back in business and the team are on a foodie mission to wow tastebuds across the city with a fantastic 6
Our chums at Aperitif have been keeping us going when it comes to feel-good dining at home, and we’re buzzing to hear that they’re back up and running as the city comes back to life. This is a must- visit for delicious dishes including: mussels in white wine and arrabbiata sauce, a rich pollo fiorentina, pizza calzone, salt ’n’ pepper chicken pizza, or Apertif’s classic burger. Why not treat your post-lockdown taste buds and jump into a whole dressed lobster for just £16.90? FAC EBOOK.COM/APERITIF-BARAND-KITCHEN
Spent Grain Exciting development for Sunderland city centre and it’s exactly the kind of news we love shouting about! Our city has recently welcomed a brand new restaurant to John Street and they’ve already made an instant impact with diners from across our region with their locally sourced ingredients and continental inspired menu. Spent Grain has been a labour of love for chef Michael Jameson and business partner Julie Gibson who’ve converted an empty unit in John Street into a sleek, city centre restaurant aimed at catering for all. One of the best things? They’ve based their entire offering and menu around promoting and using local suppliers! They stock cans of Vaux Brewery, their coffee comes directly from Fika Coffee in County Durham and they serve up a fantastic selection of pastries, brownies and flapjacks from a local bakers Bread&! They’ll be strutting their stuff with a dining experience in this year's Sunderland Food & Drink Festival - so keep your eyes peeled on this corner of the world! FAC EBOOK.COM/S PENTGRAIN
From the streets of Detroit to the banks of the River Wear… Sunderland has recently welcomed a new independent to its business community and the story of this venture is a shining example of what staying true to a dream, and overcoming the challenging setbacks along the way, can come to. Here's all you need to know about Midnight Pizza Crü... Midnight Pizza Crü was born out of an inherent passion for food, and following an opportunity to use the pandemic as a catalyst for a major change in profession and lifestyle, a local lad is finding that his passion for pizza is striking a chord with thousands of people across the region. Matthew Thomas chats to Dan Shannon, the maestro behind Sunderland’s latest mobile pizza phenomenon that’s taking the North East’s culinary scene by storm… VIBE: Tell us a little about yourself? When did your passion for food and hospitality begin? DS: So my background is in education, but I've worked in hospitality roles at various points over the past 20 years. There’s very little that gives me more satisfaction than working hard and helping create cool experiences that people buzz off through food, drink and good service. It's fairly addictive.
VIBE: Where did you find your inspiration for Midnight Pizza Crü? DS: Well, MPC started out a few years back as a bit of a loose social club of friends, getting together and eating pizza after gigs… just a silly name we gave to it. During lockdown last year, I lost my job and decided to start making DSPs (Detroitstyle pizza) for some of those pals just for something to do - it made sense to give it the same name and it snowballed from there. VIBE: For our readers out there who may not know too much about Detroit-style pizza, what can you tell us about the history of this particular style of pizza? DS: Detroit-style pizza is actually more closely related to a Sicilian pizza, which is traditionally baked in a square pan - so a totally different region and style. I suppose the style just developed when it was exported to Detroit, with the immigrant community based there. The bread is more like a focaccia than a thin crust pizza. The story goes that the workers in the automotive factories in Detroit would bring home the steel drip trays they used for oil and tools (presumably they'd clean them! ) and then started to bake pizzas in them similar to the old country. The steel trays really give the style its signature crust, with the cheese getting crispy on the steel. I just think it's a fantastic style that not many people have gotten to taste yet. It's really light, crispy and has a nice chew to the crust too. VIBE: What’s the process when it comes to creating and experimenting with new flavours? DS: Testing and tasting. I try to rope some pals in to help me with that as it's always
good to get opinions and they're usually happy to oblige! As far as the flavours go, it's just a case of using ingredients that you know will work well together and refining it so they go great on the pizza. VIBE: You’ve recently been serving out of The Ship Isis and collaborated with The Little Shop in recent weeks. Is there an opportunity for Midnight Pizza Crü to have its own HQ in the future? DS: Yeah, that collaboration was really cool and I'm really grateful to those guys for the opportunity. In terms of my own place - I hope so! I'd like nothing more to be honest with you. At the moment I'm just trying to get the name out there and get people tasting the pizza. I've got some exciting things coming up - the pick of which is a collaboration with The Raby Hunt (a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Darlington) - an absolutely incredible opportunity to work with the team there. VIBE: There seems to be a nice ecosystem of small businesses in Sunderland who are working together to support one another. How important is community? DS: I think Sunderland has always been a hot-bed of creative talent, so it's no surprise to me that some really cool businesses are starting to emerge from that. VIBE: We’re huge fans of the artwork and merchandise that has been dropping on Instagram. How do we get our hands on merch?
Want to get a slice of the action? Follow the links below for more information on how to get Midnight Pizza Crü pizza trays and don't forget to check out their limited edition t-shirts. instagram.com/midnight_pizza_cru midnightpizzacru.bigcartel.com DS: Thanks! Well, the independent music scene has been a huge influence on how I go about things generally, so a lot of the designs are influenced through that or made by artists who are involved in that scene. I'm a fan of all sorts, but I like to try and keep a vein of that running through the brand. It keeps it relevant to who I am and what I'm about. There'd be nothing worse than if MPC came across looking like an advert for home insurance! VIBE: Do you think the pandemic has encouraged people to support local businesses? DS: Definitely! People have had no option but to seek out something new and exciting, and it's been incredible to see. I also think people have had time to consider alternatives - whether it be food, drink, music, whatever… it's been amazing to see and I think it must affect the way people approach things going forward. VIBE: As we head into the summer, what does the rest of 2021 hold for Midnight Pizza Crü? DS: More pizza, more beers, more tunes! All hopefully enjoyed inside somewhere with your pals... 7
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Poetic License Bar
Hello hospitality: Al fresco refreshments
Whistle on over to the Roker Riviera and soak up the summer rays at Poetic License Bar. Overlooking the beautiful seaside, Poetic License offers a wide variety of scrumptious dishes, serene views and an abundance of refreshing drinks too. From hanging kebabs, fresh flatbreads and sensational salads, Poetic License is a great spot to stop, chill out and indulge this summer. POETICLICENSEBAR.CO.UK
STACK Seaburn Who’s ready for sunshine soirées at STACK this summer? The beloved container community over by the seaside has been a breath of fresh air (between lockdowns!) since opening last year, and we’re delighted to see that it is back in business, ready for the warmer months. Brimming with loads of independent brands and home to some of our favourite local traders, STACK is the place to visit if you’re after delicious bait, cold drinks and chilled vibes by the coast. Whether it be authentic street-food tacos from Chapos Tacos, delightful Greek cuisine from Acropolis, or juicy burgers from the gang at Boojie Burger, there’s something to cater for all members of your party. Make sure you book in advance and arrive hungry and thirsty! FACEBOOK.COM/STACKSEABURN
Six at Pierpoint A luxury charcuterie and wine bar has just opened up on the Roker Riviera and we’re chomping at the bit to get booked in! Complete with an uber-stylish interior, Six rolls into SR1’s restaurant scene with a menu sure to put smiles on faces. From home-baked nibbles to signature Six cheese boards, this place has got your post-lockdown supper sorted. Outdoor dining paired with incredible sea views, this place is a clear winner when it comes to catching those summer rays! S IXP I ERP O I NT.CO.UK
The Ivy House Standing tall on Worcester Terrace, The Ivy House comes complete with outdoor seating, banging bait and an array of guest ales. They'll also be taking part in Sunderland Food & Drink Festival with a cool cookery demo too! What more could you possibly ask for? FAC E BOOK.C OM/ T H EI VYH O U SEP UBSUNDE R L AND
Sunderland Beach Box at The Palm Sunderland Beach Box is guaranteed to be your new al fresco hotspot thanks to our friends at The Palm and their new tropical paradise. When the sun is shining and the blues skies are overhead, a trip to this urban oasis nestled just outside the city centre in the leafy suburbs of Sunderland, is an absolute must! You’re in for a treat when it comes to the foodie offering here; with seven bars and 11 street food traders featuring local favourites such as Coffee and cake, Azzurri pizza and Hatch 76, this uber cool hangout is certain to be your new favourite when it comes to catching up with friends this summer. Go here and settle in for street-side scran in fancy food shacks, topped with tropical tipples in the exotic new garden surroundings. One of the most Instagrammable spots in town, you're sure to have a blast here during the sunny months. Book in advance to avoid disappointment! DISCOVERTHEPALM.COM
Kitchen confidential: get to know the chefs cooking for Sunderland… Rustie Lee Rustie has graced Britain’s TV screens since the mid 1980s and became the first ever black presenter of a Saturday night primetime network entertainment show, Game For A Laugh. She is best-known for her delicious recipes as well as her infectious laugh. Those of you who tune into her programmes will know that she is associated with fun and her food is packed full of character!
Sunderland’s Food & Drink Festival is back in action in June and this city-wide culinary bash is shaping up to be one for the ages! A month-long event hosted online by Sunderland City Council and Sunderland BID, this foodie festival will feature a range of online cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs, food challenges for the whole family to get involved in, and a showcase of some of the finest restaurants and food retailers the city has to offer. Let’s take a look at what’s being served up in Sunderland this June… Taking to the online kitchen to showcase their range of award-winning culinary skills is celebrity chef, Rustie Lee and Great British Bake Off finalist Alice Fevronia. This dynamic duo will be guiding you and your loved ones through a series of cooking demonstrations throughout June, and they’ll be covering everything from hearty mains to refreshing side dishes and delicious desserts. Not to be missed if you’re keen on impressing people as hosting season rolls in! The good news? That’s just for starters! Sunderland Food & Drink Festival is also welcoming The Gastronaut to the virtual stage as he showcases interesting and intriguing food experiments that you can do from the comfort of your own home. Who is The Gastronaut we hear you ask? Well, it’s a brilliant food and science media company run by food adventurer and TV presenter, Stefan Gates. Stefan is renowned for working with robots, cannons, rockets and extraordinary science stunts to create a high-octane family show based around our love of food!
All of that, plus creative workshops and group challenges as schools and community groups are being asked to show what they love about Sunderland by designing a cake inspired by our wonderful city. Get your thinking caps on! More good news? The challenge is absolutely free to take part in, with Sunderland BID delivering a large white iced, sponge sheet cake, along with a goody bag with some edible cake decorating items. From there? Well it’s all down to you! Let your imaginations run riot and turn your cake creation into an edible masterpiece which brings iconic aspects of our city to life - you could use our lush coastline, the Empire Theatre or SAFC as inspiration for your cake - the world (well, Sunderland!) is your oyster! Whether you’re after expert tips on how to create a refreshing dinner as the warmer weather rolls in, or you’re looking to step your culinary game up with cooking demonstrations from pro chefs as BBQ season fast approaches, this foodie extravaganza promises to be a delicious event for the ages! All cooking demonstrations will be posted on Sunderland Food & Drink Festival Facebook page. You can also find more details on the event and which city restaurants are taking part by visiting www.sunderlandfooddrinkfest.co.uk. Any organisation wanting to register should contact Roberta Dambrauskaite by emailing: email@example.com
Having grown up in Essex, Alice Fevronia seemed destined for a career in sport until an operation forced her to rethink her life plan. With a passion for baking ticking over in the background, Alice dove head first into the industry and hasn’t looked back since. Having won the hearts of the public on Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off, Alice now produces beautiful recipes for the likes of Cosmopolitan and Delish UK.
Jean Christophe Novelli
Critically acclaimed French chef, Jean Christophe Novelli – who was a huge hit when he appeared in person at the first festival back in 2019 – will be running a number of cooking demonstrations as well as an exclusive Q&A event in which he will reveal all about his life and answer some of your burning questions.
Which Sunderland eateries are getting involved?
Funky Indian Fat Unicorn Kitchen & Stores Bread Basket Grazziebox The Ivy House The Green Bean Cafe The Looking Glass Ibbitsons Butchers The Peacock Blackberries Patisserie Fausto Coffee Undisclosed Maxim Brewery The Rabbit Lucky Cat Boba Angelo’s Restaurant
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The streets are alive with the sound of music… Kaiser Chiefs, Deacon Blue and Lulu to headline the inaugural Lamplight Festival in Sunderland this summer! A brand-new outdoor live music event organised by Sunderland City Council is coming to the city this summer to provide some much-needed fun in the sun! The first-ever edition of Lamplight Festival will take place on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 August and will welcome indie giants Kaiser Chiefs, rock-pop legends Deacon Blue, pop icon Lulu and Sunderland’s own Frankie and the Heartstrings to the stage. The all-new, family-friendly event will take place in the city centre’s Mowbray Park,
welcoming big-name acts from a range of different musical genres. Led by their charismatic frontman Ricky Wilson, the Saturday headliners Kaiser Chiefs have established themselves as one of the UK's most prolific guitar bands since forming in Leeds at the turn of the century. The band are custom-made for the festival experience and are set to belt out their anthemic indie hits which include ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’ and ‘Ruby’. Meanwhile, Glasgow rock-pop legends, Deacon Blue, will headline the Sunday stage promising to perform a range of hits from their illustrious back catalogue. With a career boasting seven million album sales, two number one albums and 14 hit singles, the band are best known for hits such as ‘Real Gone Kid’ and ‘Dignity’. Deacon Blue will be joined by fellow scots, Lulu and Roddy Woomble on 7 August. Lulu first burst on to the scene in the swinging 60s at the tender age of just 15 with her chart-topping Isley Brothers hit, 'Shout'. From her humble beginnings in
“It’s always great to be part of a new festival. We can’t wait to, once again, play alongside Frankie and the Heartstrings as well as other great acts and to headline the Saturday stage in Sunderland,” says Kaiser Chiefs frontman, Ricky Wilson. Dennistoun, Glasgow, Lulu gained widespread recognition as one of the most exciting performers and has since gone on to become one of the world’s most acclaimed Scottish singers. In addition to an impressive line-up of internationally renowned stars, the festival will also shine a spotlight on a number of rising stars from across the UK, including Wearside’s rising star, Faye Fantarrow. Tickets are priced at £39.50 for Saturday and £35 for Sunday, not including the booking fee. Under 5s are free, children aged 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Time for an active summer in Sunderland! The sun is shining, the city streets are brimming with action and Sunderland City Council have a plethora of unmissable events for you and your loved ones this summer. Here’s our pick of the bunch…
Active Sunderland BIG Walk 11 July
We’re buzzing to see that Sunderland City Council’s beloved family event is returning this year and it’s one that we cannot wait to get involved with! One of the city's most popular events, Active Sunderland BIG Walk is striding into action this July as organisers have just announced that three scenic routes complete with incredible views and lush wildlife will be available for participants to choose from. Whether you’re after a fully accessible, family friendly 3 mile walk round Herrington Country Park or keen on venturing further afield with either 7 or 11 mile hike across the city, the BIG Walk 2021 promises to be a jam-packed adventure in the sun and we cannot wait to strut our stuff! Each participant will receive a t-shirt as well as a finishers medal and it’s a fab way to get out and about in the city, explore scenic vistas and get those legs pumping. Entries available now! S UNDERLAND.G OV.UK/BIGWALK20 2 1
Active Sunderland BIG Bike Ride and Family Bike Ride 1 August Sunderland Runs Weekend 19 - 20 June
Time to put your new found love for running to the test and get involved with Sunderland Runs Weekend this June. Runners, fitness enthusiasts and those just wanting to have a bit of fun are being invited to join in one of the North's largest running events that sees the race whizz through the city and along our beautiful seafront. With two of Sunderland’s most famous bridges providing a stunning backdrop to all four race distances, Sunderland Runs Weekend is shaping up to be a race for the ages! See you on the start line! S U NDERLANDCI TY10K.C OM
Time to saddle up and hop on your trusty two wheel steed this August and join other Mackems on a mega bike ride across Sunderland! Starting from St Peter’s University Campus, Active Sunderland’s BIG Bike Ride will see you and your loved ones cycle through a mixture of woodland, urban and rural landscapes on either 14, 25 or 40 mile route before heading back for a euphoric finish line crossing back at St Peter’s. The Family Bike Ride will be a mega family affair that will see a mix of bike maintenance skills and demonstrations, a led cycle along the River Wear as well as tons of fun and games delivered by the Change 4 Life team. Entry includes an Active Sunderland BIG Bike Ride t-shirt and finisher medal. What more could you ask for? SUNDERLAND.G OV.UK/BIG BIKERIDE20 21 11
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eras, and lovers of modern titles can go to battle in exhilarating FIFA and Fortnite multiplayer games all day long. A perfect activity for those rainy days during the school summer holidays. Check it out! HARRYS GAMESHACK.COM
Fun for little ones! Summer fun for the whole family in Sunderland. Check out some of our top picks!
boarding expeditions within the marina and around the lighthouse. Let us set the scene, a gentle paddle on the open water, glorious sunshine beaming down and a whole lot of smiling faces as gentle waves lap around you - bliss! An award-winning experience and first-class way to see our beautiful coastline, follow the link below and get yourself booked in before it’s too late! SUNMAC.ORG.UK
Karting North East
Time to take your place on the grid! With up to 35 drivers racing at once on an exhilarating 1,200m karting circuit and just a short ride from the city centre, an afternoon laying down some tread at Karting North East is certainly high on our to-do lists this summer. With juniors able to race from age 8 with an induction before moving across to join a family session on a winding 850m circuit, KNE have come up trumps when it comes to getting all members of the family in on the action. Did we mention that they also have state-of-the-art floodlights too? One hot-lap round here and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re racing round one of Formula 1’s night races! K A RT I NGNORT H EAST.C OM
The warmer weather is here now, so you and your clan have no excuse to take the plunge and hit the water with the aquapros at Adventure Sunderland. Rolling back into action right here on the Roker Riviera, the team are back in action and they’ve opened up a boatload of spaces for both their kayaking and paddle 12
Whether you're a serious bowler or a gutter-shooting no-hoper just looking for a mega night out with loved ones, it's time to make a date on the lanes! Thankfully for us, our friends at Sunderland Bowl are striking back this summer and they’re the go-to spot if you’re after a straight-up ball-and-skittle session, a dash around their state-of-the-art arcade area and some delicious food too. With plenty of other fun, food and fantastic deals to be enjoyed during the warmer months, Sunderland Bowl is certain to be right up your alley this summer! SUNDERLANDBOW L.CO.UK
AR Enchanted Garden Trail From July 17
Following the huge success of the three previous trails which ran at Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, our friends at Sunderland BID will be soon unveiling six new characters in an incredible AR Enchanted Garden Trail this summer! A mega summer event for all members of the family and one that is easily accessible via the Sunderland Experience app, this unmissable adventure through the city centre will run from 17 July to 5 September and it’s a fab way to explore Sunderland with little ones while enjoying a whole host of special offers available from many of the city’s local businesses. The trail can only be accessed by downloading the free Sunderland Experience app. Keep your eyes peeled for more info by following the link below… S UNDERLANDBID.CO.UK
Harry’s Game Shack
Now this is what you call a life-saver when those unexpected rainy days arrive in the city! Time to put the hours spent online in recent months to good use by immersing you and your clan in Harry’s wonderful gaming arcade over on Fawcett Street. A fab city centre business offering big things to the computer fanatics and those wanting to try something different, their inviting the whole of Wearside over to jump head first into tons of classic gaming titles and modern blockbusters in their cool gaming HQ. One of the many good things about this place? It caters for everybody! Retro fanatics can play on iconic gaming consoles from by-gone
Take your little explorers over to John Street for an exhilarating escape room with Clue HQ. A perfect activity for those rainy days or to help blow off some steam in your bubble, the guys at Clue HQ have an abundance of escape rooms that will test even the biggest masterminds in your group. Known for their variety of special offers, tasty bar bites and range of delicious drinks on offer too, head online and get your bubble booked in before slots disappear this summer! CLUEHQ.CO.UK/SUNDERLAND
AAAsports Our somersaulting friends at AAAsport are vaulting back into action this summer with another round of thrill-seeking activities for little ones. Twist, flip and catapult your way over to AAAsports in Southwick and let youngsters jump into a wide range of fun sporting activities. Instead of climbing up the walls at home, this place is on top of its game with a whole host of new activities to try, including a number of thrilling gymnastic and trampoline classes. Run by extremely friendly coaches who are renowned for their enjoyable sessions and COVID-19 safe sessions, the kids are sure to love a day out at this super sports venue! A A ASP O RTS.CO.UK
Return to the big screen After a year-and-a-bit away from the big screen with a bag of popcorn, the time has come to celebrate Sunderland’s city’s Empire Cinema as it makes a welcome return to our lives. Whether you’re after a luxury experience with a Hollywood blockbuster, or quieter alternative chilling with the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon, this wonderful picture house has something to cater to all needs. EM P I RECI NEM AS.C O.UK
Time for a trip back to the theatre…
of Showman remains a closely-guarded secret all the way up until lights out, but if you’ve seen him before, you know you’re in for a powerhouse treat!
Waitress 25 - 30 October
Rock of Ages 24 - 28 August
The smash-hit musical is back, and the party is gonna be bigger than ever this summer. We’re delighted to learn that Sunderland Empire are welcoming Rock of Ages to the city this August and it promises to be a rocking rendition of everyone’s favourite musical. What’s the gist with Rock of Ages we hear you ask? Well, it’s a hilarious musical comedy that follows Sherrie and Drew’s journey as they try to realise their dreams of becoming famous musicians, all while navigating their way through the glitz, glamour and challenges of the music industry. Featuring over 25 classic rock anthems including the likes of Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, Wanted Dead or Alive, Here I Go Again, and I Want To Know What Love Is, Sunderland Empire will also host a n outstanding live band meaning you can be sure that this rapturous production is certain to strike the right chord. Now a global smash with hit seasons on Broadway, London’s West End and Las Vegas as well as a star studded Hollywood movie version, you’re guaranteed to have a hair-raising night out this year.
Derren Brown 7 - 11 September
Image Credit: Simon Woodley
Multi award-winning master of mind control and psychological illusion, Derren Brown is set to astonish and amaze audiences as he whistles into the city centre this autumn. His one-man shows have received wide critical acclaim and more Olivier wins and nominations than any other production in theatre history, so you know you’re in for an electrifying treat. The content
Brought to life by a ground-breaking, female-led creative team, ‘Treat yourself to a slice of five-star musical pie’ (The Times) as Lucie Jones (Waitress, Les Misérables, Legally Blonde) stars in the hit musical comedy WAITRESS as Jenna, with Sandra Marvin (Waitress, ITV’s Emmerdale, Hairspray) playing Becky, Evelyn Hoskins (Waitress, Spring Awakening) as Dawn and Matt Willis (Busted, A Christmas Carol, Wicked) as Dr Pomatter. A feel-good evening awaits at Sunderland Empire!
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe 30 November - 4 December
Direct from London, the acclaimed production of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is coming to Sunderland and it’s shaping up to be one of the hottest theatre events of the year. This year, Sunderland Empire are inviting you and your loved ones to step through the wardrobe this winter and enter into the magical kingdom of Narnia for the most mystical of adventures in a faraway land. Guaranteed to delight and dazzle in equal measure!
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 10 December - 2 January It may seem a while off, but panto season will soon be here and you’d be a fool to miss out on the Christmas extravaganza whistling into Wearside. Join Sunderland Empire on a pantomime adventure deep into the enchanted forest as a beautiful princess, a jealous wicked queen, seven bumbling dwarfs, a naughty nurse, a hilarious jester, and not forgetting a poisoned apple and a magic mirror take us on a whirlwind adventure through this iconic fairytale. Starring North East Queen of comedy, Miss Rory starring as the hilarious Nurse Rorina and South Shields comic Tom Whalley featuring as the side splitting Muddles the Jester in the canniest panto of them all, tickets to Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is already at the top of Christmas wishlist… ATGTICKETS.COM/S UNDERLANDEMPIRE
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Talking to tomorrow’s talent: say hello to Kohji Candles! NAME: Donna Cope TITLE: Owner & Founder of Kohji Candles My connection to Sunderland is... I have lived in Sunderland all my life (well apart from a short stint in Newcastle) but I quickly came back. We love our city.
How has the city shaped your business? Sunderland is a great
community with some many amazing small businesses. The support I have received has been fantastic and I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of these great businesses. There are so many talented people in our city.
How did you get to where you are now? Hard work, lots of long
days juggling two jobs (add in a husband and two children!) plus focus and motivation to do something I love.
What is the inspiration behind Kohji Candles? I have always been obsessed with candles and spent lots of time searching for great smelling candles that look beautiful and more importantly, are made from natural, cruelty-free and non-toxic ingredients.
Why did you launch Kohji Candles? For the past 15 years I have had a pretty full on, fast-paced, 14
We’re showcasing the rising stars and the talented people who are changing our city’s future for the better...
full-time job as an operations manager in the hospitality industry, and while for the most part I have really enjoyed it - although I did have to make a lot of sacrifices when it came to my family and friend - I was also constantly stressed and it was starting to have a negative impact on my health, so something had to change. As well as that, like a lot of people, I'm sure 2020 definitely made me reevaluate what is important and made me realise that life is just too short to not be doing something you love!
How is Kohji Candles different to other candle brands? There
are a lot of things that make Kohji different. We donate 25p from every candle sale to Mind charity; we only use essential oils in our candles as well as natural soy wax; and we source other essential oil products from like minded small brands across the county including bath salts, diffusers and bath bombs.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
I would have to say it would be taking the leap to start Kohji! It was a pretty big risk leaving a career I was familiar with for the last 15 years. but I did it and haven’t looked back.
by lists, if I achieve one thing off my list each day I’m one step further forward to achieving my goal. Be positive, take risks but be realistic.
Tell us one rule you live by?
Work hard and be kind.
What do you have hoped to achieve in 5 years time?
Shout out to another local business doing great things in Sunderland? Bash & Bell Events
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? I live
To have my own wellness boutique.
- they are a styled bell tent hire company and also provide luxury garden picnics. You can check them out @bash_and_bell.
In-person open events return to Sunderland College for prospective students to plan College is welcoming back visitors to its campuses for the their future Sunderland re-launch of its exciting in-person open events. Prospective students will be able to speak to expert teaching staff, apply for a course and tour the College’s state-of-the-art facilities. There will also be support teams to advise on student finance and bursaries, careers, study support and LGBTQ+ support. The College will host several open events at its City and Bede campuses for school leavers and adults interested in studying vocational, technical (T Levels) and A-Level subjects, apprenticeships, distance learning courses or part-time and short courses. The in-person open events will adhere to strict safety measures to keep people safe. Visitors are asked to pre-register online prior to the event for a specific time slot so numbers can be estricted and to only bring one other person with them. In addition, there will be a one-way system in operation, social distancing in all areas of the college and rooms will be wellventilated. The College had previously been delivering its open events virtually, following the government’s lockdown
restrictions last year, to ensure that prospective students could continue to plan their future. Judith Quinn, Interim Deputy Principal for Curriculum at Sunderland College, said: “We are delighted that our open events are returning to our campuses. Prospective students can once again explore everything Sunderland College has to offer and hear how our specialist facilities can enhance their learning experience. We have taken every step to ensure visitors’ safety and have measures in place to create a safe and secure environment. “We’re pleased to be showcasing our latest, and future, developments and investments and supporting young people and adults on their journey to achieving their career ambitions.” The first in-person open events of the year, on Tuesday 11 May, were fully booked and took place at the College’s City Campus in the heart of the city and at Bede Campus on Durham Road. There will be additional open events for those interested in Adult, Higher Education and Access to Higher Education courses
at the College’s Washington Campus and subject-focused open events including a Health and Social Care and Sport and Public Services event at Bede Campus on Tuesday 8 June from 4.30pm. Further open event dates will be announced throughout the summer. Sunderland College transforms lives and provides an outstanding experience to students, ensuring they progress and achieve their life and career ambitions. Current investments include a multi-millionpound redevelopment plan to transform the main hall at Bede Campus into a worldclass, cutting-edge immersive learning environment that will provide a backdrop for the provision of prestigious T Levels, starting September 2021.
Anyone interested in attending an open event can pre-register for a time slot at www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk
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Magical Mackems is a page dedicated to bigging up the people and places that make us incredibly proud to be from Wearside. Take a look at those who have been lighting up our city in recent weeks...
Community is key: Ryan Riley and Sunderland City Council deliver free cooking book to thousands across the city
Bafta brilliance for local lecturer
Our city is brimming with incredibly talented folk, and so it’s no surprise to see that Sunderland College’s games design lecturer, Chris Jeffrey, has been nominated for the 2021 BAFTA Young Games Designer Mentor Award by his own students! A highly prestigious award presented to educators with a passion and dedication to motivate learners through games development and design, Chris was noted for his ability to engage those who may not have considered a career within the industry, as well as bringing games design to life in the classroom. Chris has also encouraged and supported his students to showcase their talent and creativity at the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition, which gives young people across the UK the chance to design or make their own game. Under Chris’ expert guidance, students have won the Game Making Award – Adam Pace for platform game ‘Wip’ in 2019 – while also being named finalists in 2016, 2018 and 2019. A fantastic achievement in a highly competitive sector, it’s brilliant to see that young people from Sunderland are benefiting immeasurable amounts from Chris’s expertise and experiences! S U NDERLANDCOLLE GE .AC .UK 16
The brilliant and extremely talented Ryan Riley has launched a new recipe book aimed at helping people who have lost their sense of taste following COVID-19. A fantastic local chef who transformed a run-down, Grade II Listed building in Mowbray Park into a not-for-profit organisation, Ryan recently lit up the streets of Sunderland by announcing that he was distributing free copies of his critically-acclaimed book to 3,000 residents across Sunderland in a collaboration between Sunderland City Council. ‘Taste & Flavour’ is a vibrant 54-page hardback that contains 18 specially-designed recipes that are designed to combat the loss of taste and smell for those recovering from COVID-19. A fantastic cause from both Ryan and our friends at Sunderland City Council, ‘Taste & Flavour’ was distributed for free to communities across the city, and the good news? It’s also available online via a free download from the Life Kitchen website. L IFEKITCHEN.CO.UK
Red Sky Foundation bag huge award!
We’re all aware of the utterly outstanding work that our friends at Red Sky Foundation do for the North East, and we’re pleased to see that founder, Sergio Petrucci, has recently been honoured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his outstanding charity work with a coveted Point of Light award. Sergio and his wife Emma set up the Red Sky Foundation in 2016, a year after their daughter Luna had open-heart surgery, just days before her second birthday. Following a successful operation that changed the lives of the family, this inspirational couple decided to give something back to the unbelievable staff at our region’s hospitals - and boy did they do just that! Through numerous fundraising events, they have raised nearly £400,000, helping to fund two state-of-the-art echo machines for Sunderland Royal Hospital and Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, as well as raising vital funds for a specialist organ transplant machine. A beautiful story that perfectly encapsulates the meaning of our Magical Mackems features, be sure to check out this local charity and get clued up on all the incredible work they do. Keep it up Sergio and team! R E DSKY FOUNDATION.COM
A community matron from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has been honoured through a national awards programme that recognises nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who inspire those they work with and show exceptional care to patients and their families. Denise Slark, a Matron for the Trust’s Community Team in Sunderland, is now the proud holder of the Cavell Star Award after she was nominated by the Trust’s Older Person’s Team. Denise has worked in the NHS for almost 39 years and first joined the trust in 2013 as a Palliative Care Safe Care Lead at St Benedict’s Hospice. Her current role as Matron involves leading five of the trust’s community integrated teams across Sunderland; these teams have been integral to the successful roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme across the city. Unbelievable work Denise and team - well done! STSFT.NH S.U K
Nominate your own Magical Mackems! You all know and love our Magical Mackems feature. It’s our way of shining a light on the outstanding folk making a difference in the city and Vibe’s way of saying thank you to those for keeping Sunderland shining bright. This summer, our friends at Sunderland City Council are asking YOU to nominate your own heroes thanks to their Sunderland Shining Stars Awards. A fabulous way to highlight the do-gooders and the unsung heroes of our community,
Here’s the categories that you can nominate your shining star for…
Organisation of the Year
A Sunderland organisation that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to communities in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community Fundraising Champion
An individual or organisation who have gone over and above to fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunderland’s most Neighbourly Neighbour...
An individual who has demonstrated care and commitment to their neighbour(s) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Football is the universal language!
We’re delighted to share some fantastic news that perfectly sums up what football is all about, especially in our area! Sunderland City Council, SAFC, University of Sunderland and other city partners recently signed up to support the annual Amnesty International UK ‘Football Welcomes Refugees’ campaign. What’s the initiative all about? Well, it’s a fantastic programme that uses football to help promote integration and inclusion for communities made up of refugees and people seeking asylum. The campaign was first launched in April 2017 to celebrate the contribution refugees and asylum seekers make, not only to football, but to all aspects of community life. A friendly four-a-side match was hosted outside at the Beacon of Light sports and community hub next to SAFC's Stadium of Light (Tuesday 6 April) and featured an extremely special guest! The players were joined by one of the Black Cat's most popular players and seasoned anti-racism campaigner, Gary Bennett. Good job he didn’t join in the action, we think it would have been a pretty one-sided affair! SA FC.CO M
Sunderland Shining Stars Awards is a lovely programme that celebrates those who have made an outstanding contribution in the city throughout 2020/21 during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 7 award categories for residents and businesses to nominate volunteers, individuals, community groups or organisations that have done something over and above in their community in Sunderland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Best Use of Digital Technology for Communication Use of digital technology which has made a huge impact in the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community group that has supported residents’ mental health and wellbeing A community based group who have demonstrated outstanding care for residents mental health and wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young person’s outstanding contribution to the community A young individual (under 18) who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the Sunderland community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outstanding contribution to the community
An individual (over 18) who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the Sunderland community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nominations will be split into the 5 City areas and judged by the relevant Area Ward Members Judging Panel. The winners of each award category from each area of the city will then go through to the City Finals on 30 September, where an awards ceremony will take place and the overall City winner declared for each award category. NOMINATE NOW AT WWW.SUNDERLAND.GOV.UK/SHININGSTARS
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Roaring into life: The Bridges are set to unleash a Jurassic VR trail in the city this summer... 19 July - 3 September A dino-mite trail for families...
Fantastic news for our city centre as Sunderland continues its impressive bounce back! The city’s leading shopping centre, the Bridges, will be transforming into a Jurassic adventureland from Monday 19 July to Friday 3 September. Families from across Wearside will experience the thrill of virtual reality as giant dinosaurs invade the centre this summer. How’s it going to work? Visitors will download a free augmented reality app on their smartphone, before taking part in an exhilarating interactive trail around the centre. Using their camera phone, families will scan QR codes in 10 marked locations around the centre, to reveal towering life size dinosaurs! Dino hunters will see a Diplodocus, a Stegosaurus, a flying Pteranodon and even the mighty T-Rex come to life before their 18
eyes. You can even see a Dilophosaurus born from a huge speckled egg too! The trail is a fantastic way to enjoy our city centre and let little ones explore both the Bridges and creatures of the Jurassic world. The Bridges Dino Trail will encourage families to take pictures and post their favourite images online, as well as snap a few selfies on social media with the hashtag #BridgesDinoTrail for a chance to win weekly prizes. To get involved all you need to do is download the Bridges Dino Trail app from July, seek out each marker in the Bridges then watch in awe as each dinosaur pops up on your phone.
Having safely welcomed shoppers back to the city centre in April, the Bridges are leading the way when it comes to offering visitors more than your regular shopping experience. The Bridges Dino Trail provides an innovative family-friendly, free way of having something fun to do while simultaneously allowing families to experience the world-class facilities on offer at the Bridges. The Bridges Dino Trail is a COVID-19 safe activity for families to participate in and the Bridges are looking forward to welcoming people back to the city, come rain or shine, this summer!
For more information, be sure to check out www.thebridges-shopping.com
BRIDG ES DINO TRAIL
Mon 19 July - Fri 3 Sept A FREE ROARSOME DAY OUT WITH fun FOR ALL THE FAMILY! FOR MORE INFO GO TO WWW.THEBRIDGES-SHOPPING.COM download the App
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A warm welcome: Bennelli's With the return of some of our city's sparkling culture venues, we've got your 'do-this' diaries covered this summer... WHO: Arts Centre Washington WHAT: Arts Centre Washington provides a year-round programme of theatre, music, comedy, dance, film and exhibitions - as well as a whole range of classes, courses and workshops. This summer, the ACW team are inviting you and your loved ones to see their incredible 'Srijoni' exhibition and discover more about Islamic art, women and creativity.
Be sure to check out...
Srijoni: An Exhibition Exploring Islamic Art, Women and Creativity 18 May – 7 July 2021 During these incredibly challenging times, a group of women from a Bangladeshi community have come together to support each other through online arts and crafts sessions, creating work which is displayed in this innovative new exhibition alongside the work of four professional artists.
Youth Arts Exhibition: Bright Lights 2021 From 24 May 2021 Arts Centre Washington’s annual exhibition for young artists, Bright Lights 2021, is open but this year with a difference! The centre’s Youth Arts Exhibition is a platform for young people aged 11 - 19 from across Wearside to show their exciting talent. This year due to the pandemic, young people’s art works are displayed online in a 3d recreation of the centre’s art gallery as well as in The Galleries Shopping Centre, Washington. 20
WHO: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art WHAT: Field for the British Isles’ by Sir Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, will be coming to Sunderland and on display from 24 July until 25 September! A free event for all, tickets are available to book from late June!
Be sure to check out... Field for the British Isles By Antony Gormley 24 July – 25 September 2021 We’re excited to announce that ‘Field for the British Isles’ by Sir Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, will be coming to Sunderland and on display at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art at National Glass Centre from July until September this year! The Turner Prize winning artwork comprises of 40,000 unique clay figures and hasn’t been on view in the North East of England since 1996. An unmissable showcase this summer!
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens have welcomed a brand new Italianstyle coffee shop to their ranks this summer! Bennelli's at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is guaranteed to go down a treat. Boasting an inviting atmosphere and a delicious range of traditional Italian food alongside English classics, Bennelli's is the perfect pit-stop for those of you heading out into the city and taking in a bit of culture. A day of museum magic, followed by a piping hot flat white overlooking Mowbray Park - what's not to love? Make sure a trip is on your cultural and foodie agenda this summer!
WHO: National Glass Centre WHAT: Time to explore our city’s rich
history of glass making and enjoy Sunderland Culture’s breathtaking international exhibition programme, which presents the work of leading contemporary artists in glass and ceramics. This summer, National Glass Centre will be exhibiting their 'No Strings' display and it features the work of seven international artists working with glass beads in unconventional ways. The best bit? After enjoying vibrant art in a scenic location overlooking the River Wear, you can then enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the fabulous shop and treat yourself to lunch in the The Glass Yard cafe.
Be sure to check out... No Strings: Beads in a Modern Context Extended until 12 September 2021 ‘No Strings’ features the work of seven international artists working with glass beads in unconventional ways. The exhibition includes a beaded burger and coke by Faranak Sohi, an evening dress made using beads and safety pins by Shige Fujishiro, and a beaded chicken showing his gymnastic prowess on the rings by Felieke van der Leest.
Museum inspiration for Father's Day! With Father’s Day fast approaching, Sunderland Culture have given us the lowdown on a variety of different gifts for Father’s Day that are available at National Glass Centre and Sunderland Museum & Winter Garden’s Shops. In the National Glass Centre Shop, check out the fine selection of studio glass made in the building from the venue's team of incredibly talented glassblowers. Did you know that a huge proportion of National Glass Centre's glassware are made on-site in their state-of-the-art demonstration studio and then made available to purchase? Make sure you look out for their Made in Sunderland products for the perfect regional gift this Father's Day you’ll be bagging dad a unique Mackem memory that’s priceless! Sunderland Museum’s Shop stocks a variety of gifts and souvenirs; whether you’re looking for history books, prints by local artists, or just something unique that screams 'I love Sunderland'! A great place to shop local this summer. Check it out when you're next exploring in the city!
WHO: Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens WHAT: If you’re keen on learning more
The Winter Gardens will be celebrating its 20th Birthday on 21st July 2021! The original Winter Gardens was built in 1879 on the south side of the Museum. The idea of a Winter Gardens developed during the 17th to 19th centuries when plant collectors who wished to show off their exotic plant collections would build conservatories to display and protect them during winter. In 1855 local philanthropist and writer Edward Backhouse proposed building a ‘Crystal Palace’ in Mowbray Park on the top of Building Hill but nothing came of the plans. It is possible the 1879 Museum and Winter Gardens was inspired by his ideas. On April 16th 1941 the Winter Gardens was so severely damaged by an exploding parachute mine dropped by a German bomber that it had to be demolished. On another night, four incendiary bombs fell on the Museum and Winter Gardens and the Janitors wife and her two daughter used buckets of sand to extinguish the fires, saving the building. 23 years later
Be sure to check out...
'Paint the Town in Sound' explores the timeless relationship between art and music. The online exhibition examines the direct links forged between musicians and artists taking Sunderland-based band, Field Music’s, own collaborations as a starting point to explore wider trends. The artworks drawn from the Arts Council Collection, offer a fascinating insight into the musical heritage of the region, providing a route to examine our own cultural identity and its relationship to class, politics and place.
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
about Sunderland’s unique heritage, then the team at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens are chock full of trails, exhibitions and celebrations this summer as the wonderful Winter Gardens celebrates its 20th Birthday this July.
Paint the Town in Sound online exhibition Until 6 July
an extension was completed in the place of the old Winter Gardens. The new Winter Gardens opened on 21st July 2001 following a multi-million redevelopment of the Museum, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new Winter Gardens are approximately one third larger than the original Victorian Gardens. The shape and orientation of the new building is designed to encourage the flowering of trees and shrubs all year round. The structure is 32 metres in diameter and 14 metres in height. Approximately 125 tonnes of steel and aluminium have been used to create this lightweight structure. Mainly made of glass, the building provides an ideal setting for the unusual and exotic plants, water features and treetop walkway. One of the highlights of the building is the William Pye water sculpture, a towering 10-metre high steel column with rippling patterns of water flowing down the surface and an ornamental Koi carp pond.
Winter Gardens 20th birthday Be sure to join the team as they celebrate the Winter Gardens’ 20th birthday in July with a jam-packed schedule brimming with family activities and student showcases! The team will be creating amazing art using recycled materials to help us tread more lightly on the planet. Follow the Winter Gardens birthday trail to find 20 ways to protect our planet through the simple choices you and your family make! As part of the 20th birthday celebrations, pupils from Hudson Road Primary School
will be sending virtual birthday cards and decorating bunting to display in the Winter Gardens and Culture’s Learning Space. Media studies students from University of Sunderland have also made a short film about the history of the Winter Gardens, which will be released on 21 July, and families can take part in a summer programme of activities linked to the plants, fish and bugs that live in the gardens! Don't forget to check it out and say happy birthday to a city icon! 21
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Spotlight on Sunderland: A new chapter begins for Mackie’s Corner… After an extensive renovation, Mackie’s Corner is now welcoming brand new independent businesses to the city as fashion stores, cafes, delicatessen and beauty parlours call this historic part of Sunderland their home.
To celebrate the reopening of this city centre icon, we’ve put together an in-depth guide on the new independent businesses setting up shop in Mackie’s Corner... Image Credit: @ amylouisetravelsx
Bou-chique They may be a small business in the city, but this mighty independent business is offering up big things to the North East, especially when it comes to a place in Sunderland to shop quality womenswear. This bijou boutique is a celebration of understated luxury and comfort at an affordable price. Whether it’s niche jewellery pieces or luxurious, under-theradar collections, you’re certain to find that next statement piece as beer garden season arrives. FAC EBOOK.COM/ BOUCHIQUE.CO.UK
Fat Unicorn Kitchen & Stores The guys and girls at Fat Unicorn Kitchen have been a breath of fresh air since arriving into Mackie’s Corner and they’ve kept us looking forward to meal time these past 12 months thanks to their beautiful selection of artisanal ingredients. They’ve quickly become one of the city’s best spots to shop local since opening in Mackie’s Corner and this is in part to their fantastic service and wonderful deli. A space that’s packed full of regional goodies that you could spend hours here and still uncover new delights to dive into. Organic fruit and veg? Check. Beers from the likes of Full Circle Brew Co. and Almasty? Sure. A cheese counter chock full of fabulous fromage? You betcha! They’re open most days, they have wonderful staff and they’re one of Sunderland’s best-kept secrets – although we expect that to change pretty quickly. They're taking part in Sunderland Food & Drink Festival this year and we cannot wait to taste their lush delights! FAC EBO OK.COM / FAT U NI CORNK I TC HE N
Cafe 1851 We’re incredibly excited to visit Cafe 1851 this summer. In what promises to be a welcome new addition to the city’s bustling coffee-shop scene, the team are hard at graft applying the last lick of paint as they prepare to welcome Mackems from across Wearside for a delicious bite to eat, somewhere different to chill and watch the world go by with a lush flat white. Expect an uber-sleek interior matched with lowlighting, quaint bar stools and cool, traditional signage that’ll serve up the perfect homely atmosphere. FAC EBO OK.COM /CAFE - 185 1
The Black Door Hairdressing One of the hottest names in Sunderland for hairdressing, The Black Door Hairdressing team over by Mackie’s Corner have built up quite the following for their beautifully structured haircuts, range of fabulous beauty products and super friendly service since opening. The Insta-worthy boutique salon has a fresh vibe-complete with a sleek interior that celebrates the heritage of Mackie’s Corner, with cool brick walls, lush wood flooring and ambient lighting – perfect for new-look selfie. Handy, as you’ll want to capture your postlockdown cut on camera immediately! They’re back in action this summer, so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page below for an appointment! FACEBOOK.COM/ THEBLACKDOORHAIRDRESSING
do they actually sell? Well, whether you’re after statement tailoring for a big event, or you’re searching for crisp, casual gear to turn heads when out and about in the city, Master Debonair has everything you need to look effortlessly stylish this summer. They’re opening up at the namesake unit at Mackie’s Corner this June, so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page below – what a game-changer for the city! FACEBOOK.COM/MASTERDEBONAIR
The Sweet Petite Founded way back in 2014, The Sweet Petite is a wonderful example of local people dreaming large and turning their passion into a wonderful business idea and their very first premise right here at Mackie’s Corner has gone down a treat. Their story starts with humble beginnings; husband and wife duo, Tommy and Laura began their journey armed full of gorgeous goodies and a bakery trailer that travelled across the North East serving up coffee and cake to beach walkers, woodland ramblers and so on. Their sweet sensations became so sought after, that the pair then began baking custom orders for weddings and events as thousands of people across the North East looked to get their hands on The Sweet Petite treats! They’ve kept us fuelled as we explored our beautiful outdoor spaces around Sunderland, and with their beautiful Victorian wall, ceiling mouldings, opulent chandeliers and ornate cabinetry decorations all gleaming and on show, we cannot wait to head down, tuck into a slice of cake and enjoy their beautiful cafe first-hand. FACEBOOK.COM/THESWEETPETITES
Master Debonair Arriving into the city with a global reputation, a raft of retailer awards and an abundance of style, Master Debonair promises to be a huge addition to Sunderland’s cultural and shopping offering once they’re up and running at Mackie’s Corner. A small idea from local lad Simon Whitaker that’s blossomed into something truly wonderful, Master Debonair’s whole ethos is simple but beautifully effective; a family ran independent that places classic values, outstanding services and quality clothing at the heart of their entire operation. It all sounds excellent, but what type of clothing 23
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Welcome to the Vibe Vault! We’re travelling back in time to explore the people, the places and the memories that have helped shape the Sunderland we know and love. Join us as we delve into Sunderland history and shine a light on yesteryear… Image 1
Who: Mackie’s Corner What: Independent trade booming in Sunderland… Where: High Street West When: Image 1: Circa 1860 - 1870 Image 2 & 3: Circa 1950s Now this is a Vibe Vault to stop you in your tracks! You’ve read about the future of Mackie’s Corner, now it's time to go back in time! These photographs are likely to be some of rarest images you are ever likely to see of it. Image 1 was taken circa late 1860s, early 1870s, if you look carefully at the name above the shop, it showcases the word ‘MACKIE’. The windows above the shop have the words 'wholesale hat and cap warehouse' and you can just about see someone on steps window-dressing the front of the store. It is believed that this is the only photograph in existence that shows the original shop frontage too - incredible! The other two images are from the 1950s and showcase the hustle and bustle of city life as independent trade boomed around Mackie’s Corner. We’re looking forward to seeing similar scenes once again, although we don’t expect people turning up in top hats and wool trench coats in the height of summer…
Credit: Sunderland Antiquarian Society & Phil Curtis
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ALL ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES AND STORIES FROM LIFE IN AND AROUND THE CITY. GET IN TOUCH ON SOCIAL MEDIA USING THE #VIBEVAULT HASHTAG! Image 3
Supporting local organisations through higher and degree apprenticeships So what makes the University of Sunderland apprenticeships so great?
The University of Sunderland are supporting businesses across the region to upskill their workforce through their apprenticeship provision…. With increased government investment in apprenticeships, it couldn’t be a better time to invest in your workforce. Apprenticeships offer a cost-effective way of attracting and developing fresh talent to a business and provide opportunities to upskill and motivate existing employees. Apprenticeships are available to people of all ages (16+), allowing access to the whole workforce to improve skills and progress in their careers. For the apprentice they offer an inspiring and contemporary approach to work-based learning and a great opportunity to learn while they earn. The University of Sunderland offers a wide range of higher and degree apprenticeship options, meaning there are great choices available to businesses of varying sizes. Learning is work related and relevant to the job role and is designed to make significant positive impacts to both the apprentice and the business. They allow knowledge and theories to be applied straight into practice and projects throughout the learning are work related. The University of Sunderland aims to support employers and employees through the expansion of their work-based learning provision. As an internationally-recognised university for quality teaching and
research, they have been providing higher education since 1901 and they were one of the first universities to introduce higher and degree apprenticeships. The university helps businesses grow through the development of skills and knowledge relevant to job roles and supports individuals within the workforce to reach personal goals and aspirations.
From the initial concept through to on-programme delivery, employers have been crucial to the university’s apprenticeship success. Sunderland University has developed strong links with employers who consult throughout to guarantee that the programmes are designed and developed to meet employer requirements and to address any knowledge and skills gaps. The engagement ensures that the apprenticeship programmes are current, reflect job roles and help lead the way for the future. Embarking on an apprenticeship with the University of Sunderland allows apprentices to access world-leading academics, research facilities and more. An additional benefit to the employer is that they will transfer these skills and knowledge back to the organisation. Some of the most popular apprenticeships offered at the University of Sunderland include the MBA Senior Leader, Learning and Skills Teacher, BEng (Hons) Engineering Practice, BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions Professional and the MSc Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist. What a fantastic opportunity for employees to learn and be rewarded while they earn a salary!
A series of information events are taking place over the coming weeks. To find out more about higher and degree apprenticeships visit: sunderland.ac.uk/apprenticeships or contact the team directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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University graduate mum launches business inspired by her little boy A University graduate and mum today told how her new Sunderland business venture was inspired by her autistic son. Vijayalakshmi Subramani – VJ to her friends – saw how much six-year-old James struggled during the past 12 months with having to stay indoors during lockdown. To help him and other parents, she decided to use her knowledge of Virtual Reality technology to create a VR-based entertainment platform for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). VJ, who launched her own business
WH EN I SAW JAME S ST RU GGLI NG TO C OPE , I WAS D ESP ERATE TO FIND A SO LU T I O N FOR HIS P RO BLEM S 26
Thendral International Ltd after graduating with an MSc in Environment, Health & Safety from the University of Sunderland last year, said: “Before lockdown, we regularly took James to the park and go for long drives, so he has found being inside all the time very stressful. “He started saying words like “car”, “beach” and even his friends’ names during his sleep. “James has multiple allergies, including eczema and asthma, so it is too much of a risk to take him outside during a pandemic. Due to his autistic nature, he doesn’t understand what we say, and he finds it hard to communicate and ends up selfharming and scratching himself. “When I saw James struggling to cope, I was desperate to find a solution for his problems, so we tried VR headsets with travel and entertainment videos, and he
really enjoyed the immersive experience. “Even though we were stressed to the core, my knowledge, life experience and education came together and helped me find the best solution for James. “We also wanted to help other struggling parents and that is when this whole idea of solving SEND children’s problems through TeenyWeeny VR evolved.” TeenyWeeny VR helps children deal with phobias, anxiety, change and transition episodes with a calming, fully immersive and portable experience. VJ launched a prototype of the system in April with the Harry Watts Academy, a specialist school for children with autism in Sunderland. “We are creating high quality entertainment with our region’s best children’s entertainers, fun-based educational content and virtual tours in VR for children with special educational needs
and disabilities,” VJ added. VJ arrived in England from India in 2009, and after several years working for Sunderland City Council, she decided she wanted to spread her wings and quit her role to study a postgraduate course at the University. During her studies VJ’s hard work and caring nature was recognised by the University when her fellow students voted her Student of the Year in 2019 for her inspirational work supporting fellow students. Last year, VJ was one of the finalists of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Inspiring Female Award in the SME category, and says that her postgraduate studies at the University had a huge impact on her business. “I can clearly see the difference in myself before and after my time at the University of Sunderland in my personality, confidence and in presenting my ideas,” the 35-year-old said. “The amount of work we did in writing assignments and research is really helping me now to write business reports, and present business pitches in front of investors. “I believe this is the whole idea of a university education, bringing out our hidden talents as students and shaping our skills to succeed in both our personal and professional life.”
University’s multimillion-pound impact in transforming the North East New data reveals the critical and multimillion-pound impact the University of Sunderland is making in supporting the North East. The multi-faceted way in which the University is contributing to regeneration, regional growth, research partnerships, and start-up businesses is highlighted in data released in Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework. The data, available on the KEF’s website, informs a series of metrics that look at the performance of English Higher Education Providers (HEPs) from a variety of different perspectives. Professor Jon Timmis, Deputy ViceChancellor (Commercial) at the University, said: “We welcome the Knowledge Exchange Framework in helping highlight the work we do to support the North East region. “The breadth of the Framework reflects the excellent work within the University in supporting companies with innovation, promoting graduate enterprise and recruitment, undertaking cutting edge research and developing new products. “As the Framework moves beyond the pilot year we look forward to working harder than ever to involve, support and learn from our local businesses, partners and communities, and to seeing this reflected in future publications.” The latest data brings together rich accounts of how universities, including Sunderland, engage in their local areas, contributing in varied and often innovative ways to their localncommunities and economies. As well as researchers and innovators, the activities captured highlight the diversity of essential roles - from technicians and project managers, to technology transfer professionals - in
connecting university expertise to prosperity and public good. This is the first time that detailed, qualitative information about how HEPs build community engagement and promote growth in their local areas has been gathered together in a structured and systematic way allowing for easy comparison.
The Framework highlights the University: • is in the top 10% of universities nationally for contributing to local growth and regeneration, through projects like Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM), which has just been evaluated as contributing a gross £43 million to the North East Economy. • is in the top 30% of universities nationally on “research partnerships”, reflecting the collaboration we do on research, from work on new drugs through to supporting local firms with the latest technology. • is the top university in the North East for graduate start-ups, and in the top 30% nationally. 93% of start-ups rated the support they received as “high quality” in a recent survey. 27
Answering your questions about the Covid-19 vaccine More and more people are now being invited to join the millions already vaccinated against Covid-19. Here you will ﬁnd the answers to the most commonly asked questions. How will I know it’s my turn to have the Covid-19 vaccine? The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Please only contact the NHS to arrange your vaccine appointment if you’ve been advised to do so. Once you have received a letter, email or text you can book your appointment online at your choice of vaccination site so that it’s convenient for you. Those who can’t access the online booking service can call 119 to book an appointment.
Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe? Before any vaccine can be used, it must pass strict quality, safety and effectiveness tests and be granted approval by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The Covid-19 vaccine is no different and has been approved by the MHRA.
The JCVI advises as a precaution that it’s preferable for people under the age of 40 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible.
How can people be conﬁdent there
won’t be long-term side effects? Every single vaccine authorised for use in the UK has been assessed for safety by the MHRA. Millions of people have already received the Covid-19 vaccine. The MHRA operates the Yellow Card scheme on behalf of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The scheme collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns and relies on voluntary reporting of suspected adverse incidents by healthcare professionals and members of the public (users, patients and healthcare professionals). You can ﬁnd out more at yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk
Can I choose which Covid-19
Are there any side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine? Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short term, lasting no longer than a week, and not everyone gets them. These may include: •
A sore arm where the needle went in
Feeling or being sick
vaccine I have? No. All vaccines that are available will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efﬁcacy, so people should be assured that whichever vaccine they have, will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.
Can people with allergies have the Covid-19 vaccine? You should not have the Covid-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:
If required, paracetamol can help relieve some discomfort.
a previous dose of the same vaccine
any of the ingredients in the vaccine
There have been reports of extremely rare cases of blood clots. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives. The MHRA, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have both said that the beneﬁts of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults.
Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction. Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and can treat them immediately.
Can pregnant or breastfeeding women have the Covid-19 vaccine? If you’re are pregnant, you should be offered the vaccine when you are eligible. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are offered the vaccine based on age and clinical risk group. It’s preferable for pregnant women to have the Pﬁzer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine because they have been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues. You can have a Covid-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding. There is no evidence that the vaccine has any effect on the chances of becoming pregnant and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after being vaccinated. The vaccine can’t give you or your baby Covid-19. Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccine. They will discuss the beneﬁts and risks with you. Search ‘pregnancy and coronavirus’ on nhs.uk for more information.
Does the Covid-19 vaccine affect fertility? There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility, or your chances of becoming pregnant. If you are concerned, please search ‘A guide to Covid-19 vaccination – All women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding’ on gov.uk for more information.
How do I know the Covid-19 vaccine has been widely tested on people like me? Each of the vaccines has been tested on tens of thousands of people across the world and over 30 million people have taken the vaccine in the UK. They’re tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages between 18–84.
Will the Covid-19 vaccine protect me? Vaccines offer important protection to reduce risk, but they don’t make you invincible. Protection from any vaccine takes time to build up. In general, the older you are the longer it takes. It will take at least two weeks in younger people and at least three weeks in older people before you can expect to have a good antibody response.
Can I catch coronavirus from the Covid-19 vaccine? No, you can’t. But it’s possible to have caught the virus and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination. If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If you need more information on coronavirus symptoms, check nhs.uk
How does the Covid-19 vaccine work? Like any vaccine, the Covid-19 vaccine works by teaching your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from disease. It’s safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the disease.
Is the Covid-19 vaccine vegetarian? The Covid-19 vaccines currently approved in the UK do not contain any components of animal origin and so, yes, they are vegetarian.
I’m young & low risk so the Covid-19
Will people under 40 be offered a
vaccine isn’t for me
vaccine other than Oxford/Astra
The average age of people in intensive care is 60, but people much younger have been seriously ill and died too, with thousands more still suffering the effects of Long Covid after what might have been a mild initial case. If we’ve learned anything from this last year, it’s that nobody is really safe. Anyone can get Covid19, including young people, and anyone can spread it. Getting vaccinated is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others around you from the virus, vaccines reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19.
The Covid-19 vaccine contains alcohol & therefore are not permissible The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a tiny amount of ethanol. Less than what you would ﬁnd in some of your daily groceries like bread. Faith Leaders and Muslim Scholars have said that the vaccine is not Haram.
How do I know if the Covid-19 vaccine is suitable for people of my faith? The approved Covid-19 vaccines are suitable for people of all faiths. They don’t contain any components of animal origin or foetal cells.
Zeneca? The (JCVI) advises that it’s preferable for under40s with no underlying conditions to be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine where available. Everybody who has already had a ﬁrst dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age. The exception is a very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their ﬁrst vaccination. If you are unsure, speak to a healthcare professional.
Why do I need a second vaccination? Vaccines offer important protection to reduce risk, but they don’t make you invincible. Protection from any vaccine takes time to build up. In general, the older you are the longer it takes. It will take at least two weeks in younger people and at least three weeks in older people before you can expect to have a good antibody response. Even better protection then comes from the second dose, so it’s really important that everyone gets their second vaccination. You will be contacted to arrange a date for your second appointment unless you have already booked via the national booking system. For more information, visit nhs.uk/covidvaccine
Could you get help to buy Healthy Food? If you’re pregnant or have children under 4, you may be eligible for Healthy Start vouchers to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and milk at your local supermarket. The vouchers will arrive by post every four weeks and you can use them in any shop that is registered with the scheme.
In Sunderland it is estimated that almost 2,000 pregnant women and children are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers, but many go unclaimed every week. Don’t let these vouchers go to waste, check if you are eligible now at: www.healthystart.nhs.uk
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School of Rock 7 - 12 June 2021
Unmissable dates at some of our city’s biggest venues…
Hector Gannet 12 June The guys and girls at The Peacock are knocking it out the park with their unbelievably good list of music events coming to the city this summer! We’re buzzing to learn that North Shields starlet Aaron Duff and his band, Hector Gannet will be playing an exclusive gig in the city this June to showcase their brilliant latest album ‘Big Harcar’. Fans have been eagerly awaiting recorded material to emerge since 2017when Hector Gannet wrote an outstanding piece of original music to be performed alongside vintage archive film footage of North East England for the North East Film Archive. Rich in melody, lyrics rooted in local heritage and an embracing sound that’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, this a mega music date in the city you really don’t want to miss out. Tickets are £6, a local band are headlining and it’s inside one of the independent venues around - what more could you ask for? FACEBOOK.COM/THEPEACOCKSUN
Get ready to stick it to the man as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End and Broadway hit musical, School of Rock rolls into the city to rock out at Sunderland Empire! This global hit musical based on the iconic movie starring the hilarious Jack Black has just announced that they’re stopping over at Sunderland Empire for a few exclusive performances and we’re pretty buzzing about this one. If you’ve seen this modern classic, then you’ll know just how good this production will be! School of Rock follows the trials and tribulations of wannabe rock star Dewey Finn as he is cast out by his dive-bar bandmates and finds himself in desperate need of cash to keep a roof over his head. A man of great talent but questionable morals, Deweydecides to pose as a substitute music teacher at an elite prep school - exposing his straight-A students to the rock gods he idolises and transforming them into a mind-blowing rock band with an abrasive punk attitude. Featuring 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as all the original songs from the movie, and a band of insanely talented kids that play live every show, School of Rock will warm your heart and blow you away in equal measure. ATGTICKETS.COM
Sunderland City Runs 19 - 20 June On your marks! It’s brilliant news that Sunderland City Runs is back up and running this year after a season of jump starts! Sunderland’s iconic City Runs is
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whistling back into the city for a special 10th anniversary extravaganza! Once again, Sunderland will welcome over 5000 participants to the city streets, in a bustling celebration of all things Sunderland. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic and plan on tackling the half-marathon route, or just want to ease into the action with the Big 3K - Sunderland City Runs has something for everyone and promises to be one of this city’s hottest events this summer. There’s still a few remaining slots, so put your lockdown miles to the test and get stuck in… SUNDERLANDCITY10K.COM
Brighter Days Festival 4 July 2021 The countdown is on to the launch of Brighter Days Festival, a brand new major house and techno festival that’s whistling into Herrington Country Park on July 4 and local legend Patrick Topping has been announced as the headline act! In what promises to be one of the hottest events in the city this year, Brighter Days have announced a raft of headline acts for their 10 hour techno shindig and we cannot wait to be strutting our stuff in the fields this summer. Let’s talk about the headline act shall we? Patrick has carved out a reputation as one of the leading faces of British house and techno, not only as a DJ but also as a world-renowned producer. Sound tracking countless sunrise memories as resident of Jamie Jones’ famed Paradise parties at Ibiza’s DC-10, Patrick’s now 50-release strong backcatalogue is bursting with iconic dancefloor records on labels such as Hot Creations, Truesoul and Relief Records with further remixes for Calvin Harris and so on. Tickets start from £32.50, they’re on sale now and you’d be a fool to miss out! BLOCKROCKINEVENTS.CO.UK/TICKETS
Changing lives: Adopt Coast to Coast Those looking to adopt in Cumbria, Durham and Sunderland will benefit from a quicker process thanks to the launch of a new Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) spanning the regions. Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council and Together for Children which delivers children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, have joined forces to recently launch a RAA known as Adopt Coast to Coast. The partnership means that the three local authorities can more readily work together to speed up the adoption process for prospective adopters and find the best match for the babies and children in their care and who are in need of forever homes. As the partners in Adopt Coast to Coast collectively operate across a larger geographical area the teams can more readily match prospective adopters and children from a wider pool.
Between April 2020 February 2021, Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council and Together for Children have approved 75 families and matched 121 children to new homes.
Say hello to Robbie, Steven and Josh…
When Steven and Robbie first met, they both knew straight away that the relationship was right – and they also knew they wanted a family of their own. Robbie said: “We talked about children on our first date! So our relationship had the same goals, but to be honest at the beginning we just Googled it a bit.” In 2019 they decided the time was right for them, even relocating so they’d be closer to their supportive family network if they were approved. They attended an information event run by the local authority, and then had a visit by a social worker. Robbie said: “We were assigned our fabulous social worker – but then along came lockdown! However, Covid didn’t stop us building a really good relationship with her, and in some ways it worked better, because we could just jump on Teams.” The couple had been warned that they would be unlikely to get a baby – but their matching process didn’t run quite to plan: “In our minds we had become fully prepared to welcome a slightly older child into our family” Robbie said. “We went in front of the panel - the longest 16 minutes of our lives – and were approved, which was such a huge relief for us. And then just one day later, we got a call to say, ‘Come and meet a little baby’. It took a rapid and massive shift in our thinking!”
Who can adopt? There are many reasons people choose to adopt – some adopters can’t have children of their own, others want to start a family without a partner, some may want to add to their family, while others might feel they have a lot of love, support and happiness to offer a child who perhaps hasn’t had the best start in life. Robbie and Steven instantly fell in love with their beautiful little boy Josh. All of their energy then went on equipping their home with everything you need for a baby, as well as learning how to deal with bathing, bottling and nappy changes. Steven added: “The adoption journey might seem completely overwhelming for some people, especially if you’ve been thinking about it for a long time – but it’s all totally worth it. “All the waiting and worrying, all the concerns about whether you’ve said the right thing or the wrong thing - just relax, be truthful and open with your social worker, and you could have your own forever family too.” For more information, visit adoptcoasttocoast.org.uk or get in touch via email@example.com
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