Sunderland Vibe - Winter 20/21

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SUNDE RLAND The city, coast & beyond... W I N TER 2 0 / 2 1




New Covid-19 restrictions for our region Find out the latest information on restrictions and frequently asked questions at


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The weather outside might be frightful, but the content in our winter magazine is oh-so delightful. It’s true what they say, out of adversity comes opportunity and that’s exactly what we’re living by this winter. While it may be a little different this year, we're looking at the festive period as an opportunity to embrace the true meaning of Christmas by appreciating the little things in life. Let's start by bigging up our beautiful local businesses. Please continue to support them - they’re the lifeblood of our city and every single pound, every Facebook follow and every Instagram like truly goes a long way. Inside, you’ll also find inspiring stories from our Magical Mackems, the lowdown on places to feast festive, plus a glorious gift guide to help you tick off those lists. We can see light at the end of the tunnel, but we all have to continue to do our bit to ensure Sunderland is a safe and friendly place to be this Christmas. We hope you have a joyous Christmas and a very happy New Year. Stay safe and we’ll see you in 2021!

4 Vibe online

Our city through your lens

5 Vibe vault

The streets of Christmas past

6 Feast festive

21 Magical Mackems

Seriously inspiring Sunderland folk

Seasonal scran in the city and at home

10 Shop local, shop Sunderland The BID's guide to supporting our city

22 We Care at Christmas

A Sunderland Uni Christmas appeal

12 Game on

Brilliant board games for Christmas Remember Media Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0SR Publisher Christopher March Editorial Matthew Thomas Advertising Rebecca Jackson Design All contents copyright ©2020 RememberMedia 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, November 2020. ISSN 2633-4518

24 In conversation

An exclusive interview with David Brewis

14 Gift guide

26 City culture

16 Vibe loves local

30 Plan ahead

Your Bridges Christmas wishlist Shouting about our local businesses

Cultural fun in Sunderland and online 2021 diaries at the ready...



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Our city through your eyes! Here’s what you’ve been upto in and around the city since we last checked in...

@keatphotography Penshaw monument tonight about 7pm, sun had gone down and very mild atmosphere! All regular coffee = £2! Mon-Fri til 1am! Come get yo’ caffeine fix! #november #faustocoffee #sunderland #roker #rokerriviera #flatwhite

@dacquarestaurant If you order a main course takeaway, we will be also offering takeout draught pints. Carling, Peroni, Swedish Blonde Ale or Samson available £3 per pint served in lidded pints in a cardboard holder for your transportation home. Also, we will launch our COVID Cocktail pouches at £5 each. More details on these tomorrow! #dacqua #sunderland #northeast #supportlocal 4

@sunderlandvibe #MackemMuttMonday is BACK. Everyone say alreet to Colin the Cockapoo! This little chap is 5-years-old and he’s a total charmer. You can find Colin strolling the beach, demanding ridiculous amounts of belly rubs and breaking hearts wherever he is in the North East!

@offmywing Tracking north up the East Coast of the UK, passing Sunderland Harbour. #sunderland #sunderlandharbour #clouds #flying #flyuk #generalaviation #ukaviation WE’D LOVE TO HEA R FROM YOU! WANT TO F E ATUR E I N OU R N EXT E DITIO N O F VIBE O N LI N E? GET I N TO UCH VIA TWITTE R, I N STAGRAM AND FACE BO O K !

@littleshopsun Big thanks to @motorhousestudios for filming ‘what we do’ today! You’ll be seeing more collaboration with them over the next day or so. #littleshop #beershop #wineshop #coffeeshop #motorhousestudios #sunderland

Keep us up to date with your Sunderland shenanigans using the hashtag





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 the #VibeVault archives and shine a light on yesteryear…

The Streets of Christmas past… Check out this selection of photographs from iconic locations in our city centre! With Sunderland gearing up for a different Christmas experience this year, take a trip down memory lane as we look at our buzzy, festive streets from the 1970s…



Socie Photo credit: Sunderland Antiquarian Echo d & Sunderlan

North East Transport Plan

Have your say. Consultation open 19 November – 14 January The North East Transport Plan sets out how transport could look and feel in the region up to 2035 and we want you to be part of it. Let’s work together to make our transport system even better.

Want to know more? Be part of our virtual events: 3 December: 12pm 5 December: 10am

16 December: 9am 7 January: 7pm

Visit to view the plans and let us know what you think.

To register, please contact us on 0191 433 2973 or email

#NETransportplan 5

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Liberty Brown This one is for the kids! Make your way over to Liberty Brown once the city is up and running for little ones to have the chance to meet The Grinch in the 'Magical Santa's Grotto Experience'. Meet the man in the big red suit, write a Christmas list with the elves, make reindeer dust and get a gift to take home. Seal the deal with a delicious family feast in the restaurant, and we can guarantee that the whole family will be spreading festive cheer. A must visit for the whole family when the time is right! LIBERTY BROW N.COM

How to feast festive in the city and at home! Whether you’re looking for a festive feast at home, or like the rest of us, you’re looking forward to restaurant dining once the city opens up again, we’ve got you covered with some of the finest winter menus from across the city. Remember to keep an eye on the latest COVID restrictions, and if we’re lucky to be out indulging in the lush tastes from our city then be sure to dive in!

In the city... Miller & Carter Miller & Carter is a fan favourite when it comes to decadent festive food in the city. We’re drooling at the thought of their new Festive Burger - think minced prime steak, topped with cranberry and camembert and served with seasoned sage and onion fries. Why not finish with a rich chocolate pot served with whipped cream, white chocolate and raspberry bark? We’re hoping this Newcastle Road gem is back up and running in early December, inviting foodies to enjoy a few yuletide treats and tipples after a tough old year. A great spot to celebrate with your bubble once the city is back to its bustling best! M ILLERANDCARTE R .C O.UK 6

The Chesters The Chesters is renowned for its Christmas offering, and it’s easy to see why! It’s a great spot to dive into all the usual favourites; from traditional turkey dinners to juicy burgers with a festive twist and their stunning veggie range too. Pair it with dazzling decorations, cosy interiors and chilled vibes, and you simply can’t go wrong! Remember to check their opening times before heading over! GRE ATUKPUBS.CO.UK/CHESTERSSUNDERLAND

Grand Hotel Sunderland Make this Christmas truly memorable for all the right reasons with a Christmas Eve afternoon tea meal at the Grand Hotel. This beautiful spot on the seafront invites families to enjoy an indulgent, tiered feast before belting out some traditional Christmas carols and diving into tons of other fun, festive activities. With a sensational sandwich selection and a decadent dessert offering waiting in the wings, this festive treat is certainly delivering the goods this December. Remember to check out their safety procedures, make sure everything is up and running before visiting! FAC EBOOK.COM/ GRANDHOTELS UNDERLAND

At home... Stirks Italian Steakhouse The Stirks team have been keeping our bellies full when it comes to enjoying stunning food at home or in town. Whether it be their fabulous steakhouse restaurant at Wavendon Crescent, or their family butchers brimming with purse-pleasing deals for entertaining at home, Stirks have both sides of Christmas covered. For those of you cooking up a storm come the 25th, Stirks have come up with their own festive miracle and put together a huge hamper package - taking away all that stress in the kitchen on the big day. Priced at £100, this fit-for-a-king feast includes: turkey crown wrapped in bacon, stuffed pork loin joint, buttery mash potatoes, goose fat roasties and tons of other delights. FACEBOOK.COM/ STIRKS ITALIANSTEAKHOUSE

D’Acqua: Christmas at Home This year, D’Acqua is giving you the chance to take a taste of the restaurant home. Featuring all of your favourite festive foodie bites, their delightful Christmas at Home menu includes roasted vine cherry tomato soup, slow roasted beef brisket with trimmings and an oh-so delightful lemon and clementine posset. What’s more? Well, it’s just £40 for a festive threecourse feast, and all you have to do is turn up and collect on Christmas Eve before banging it all in the oven after Santa’s been. Happy days! FACEBOOK.COM/ DACQUASUNDERLAND

RAISING STANDARDS IN EDUCATION We offer bespoke tuition in all subjects, to all students of all levels. Our team of qualified and dedicated teachers help each student reach their full potential by raising confidence, strengthening understanding and achieving success. We also provide Educational Support services including SEN support, Dyslexia assessment and counselling.

Forge Sundays at Home Preheat your oven, let the kids set the table and dive into a festive Sunday roast. The Forge have been keeping our hearts and bellies full throughout the madness, and we’re buzzing to hear that they’re continuing Forge Sundays at Home during the colder months! Expect everything from mushroom soup, to roasts of the day featuring topside of beef and lemon and thyme chicken. If you do anything this winter, make sure The Forge Sundays at Home is one of them! T H EFO RGEFOOD.C OM

OUR SERVICES ARE OUTSTANDING - BECAUSE WE CARE To find out more, contact us on: 07388540996


We are shouting about Villa Soft Drinks this winter – they’re an iconic Sunderland drinks firm that has been producing scrumptious soft drinks for over a century and they’re back with an exclusive offer for all you lovely Vibe readers out there! Mention ‘Villa Pop’ anywhere in the city, and you will be greeted with tons of positive comments. Having been making premium soft drinks for over 135 years, Villa are back producing new thirst quenchers at their base in Southwick. From delightful ginger beer, sarsaparilla, lemonade as well as dandelion and burdock, these fizzy pop connoisseurs use the purity of Hadrian Spring Water – giving your favourite flavours a distinctive crisp taste and a beautiful taste of yesteryear.

We have managed to get you a taste of the action too! The cool cats at Villa Soft Drinks are offering YOU an eye-watering deal this winter; get involved with FOUR 330ml glass bottles, gift boxed for just £8 + £2.99 delivery*. For those who simply cannot get enough of their delightful beverages, they are offering EIGHT 2l bottles for a purse-pleasing £12 + £2.99 delivery* too! All you have to do is quote Sunderland Vibe for FREE DELIVERY to an SR post code and email your order to – it’s as simple as that! (*Delivery cost applies to NE, DH, DL and TS postcodes only, please email for other area costs)

Other products available. For a full list of delicious soft drinks, head on over to and indulge in the taste of yesteryear.


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Clean eating for 2021

A merry little Sunderland Christmas... How to get the best out of the city when celebrating at home! Here's where we are shopping for our festive goodies this December... Who: Ibbitson’s of Sunderland What: Mouthwatering meats Where: Jacky White’s Market, SR1 3DG Why: Ibbitson’s has been supplying Christmas goods to wearside families since 1925, and they’re a sure bet for all your meat needs this year.

Who: Thoburns Fruit & Veg What: Fresh fruit & veg Where: Jacky White’s Market, SR1 3DG Why: Thoburn's brings all of the trimmings to your festive feast and boy, do they do it good! They’re open in the city and also running home deliveries for those who can’t get out. Who: Paticake Patisserie What: Sweet treats Where: Thornhill Crescent, SR2 7AP 8

Why: just one look at Paticake’s Facebook feed and you know you’re in for a treat. A small but mighty business offering a range of beautifully sweet delights with a festive twist! Who: The Little Shop What: Seasonal sips Where: High Street West, SR1 3ET Why: It’d be rude not to indulge a tad, right? Given the year we’ve all had to endure, we have a feeling The Little Shop is going to be busy sorting out everyone's festive tipples! Think beautiful white wines, rich Belgian beers and tons more from local brewers. Who: Forget Me Not Florist What: Beautiful blooms Where: Athenaeum Street, SR1 3HP Why: A trip to Forget Me Not Florist is an absolute must when it comes to getting the house set for the big day. Go here for everything from Christmas wreaths and winter bouquets, to a stunning table centrepiece. Who: Harrison & Brown Furniture What: Dazzling decorations Where: Holmeside, SR1 3JE Why: This family-owned furniture business in the heart of the city is the place to visit for dazzling decorations and the all-important unique festive trinkets!

We might be busy indulging in all of the deliciousness that Christmas brings, but it’s never to early to start thinking about our healthy 2021 agendas. With that in mind, we’ve picked out four of our top picks for feel-good food for the new year. Healthy Thaim Head over to Thorndale Road and tuck into deliciously fresh treats at Healthy Thaim! Renowned for creating Slimming World-friendly delights, it's an ideal place to tuck into a plate of healthy goodness as we kickstart 2021. Make sure you try their famous Yorkshire pudding wrap, served with a helping of Healthy Thaim veggies and gravy. Delicious. FACEBOOK.COM/HEALTHY-THAIM

The Good Apple Cafe The Good Apple Cafe is one of the tastiest veggie and vegan cafes in the North East - and it’s well worth a visit as you kickstart your good-for-you 2021 diet. Go here for healthy homemade bakes washed down with a cup of cracking coffee. Don’t miss the cafe's daily specials, soup of the day deals and big breakfasts to get your day off to a delicious - and nutritious - start! GOODAPPLECAFE.CO.UK

Cole Kitchen Sunderland’s beautiful Cole Kitchen is the go-to spot for those getting involved in all the Veganuary action. Plant-based sandwiches, speciality coffee and goodfor-you grub is at the very heart of this Roker gem, and we can’t think of a better place to tuck into vibrant food and start 2021 in style! So, grab the pooch, stick your big coat on and head on down to the Roker Riviera for some hearty goodness. FACEBOOK.COM/COLEKITCHENROKER

Nudo Sushi Box The rolls-rice of Japanese food! Start 2021 with a bang and head on over to Nudo Sushi Box in the Bridges for a slice of oriental goodness. The Nudo team are bestloved for creating outstanding sushi dishes using the freshest produce and wholesome ingredients. So, whether it's a light snack, a healthy drink or a feel-good feast, you'll leave feeling full, content and confident in your new good-for-you diet! NUDOSUSHIBOX.COM


View from the top... He’s organised mortgages for thousands of Wearside families and businesses, but where does Paul Hampton’s company call home? We take a tour of ‘The Penthouse’ with Approved Mortgage Solutions. As mortgage advisors, place is clearly important to you. Where are you based? We are at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland. We started in an incubator unit and when we outgrew that we moved to a suite. Now we’ve expanded into a building called the Slipway Centre which is right on the banks of the River Wear. It’s a big, bright, open plan space that’s always buzzing with energy from our team of advisors and administrators.

Tell us a little about your business?

Approved Mortgage Solutions has been trading for 12 years. We are whole-ofmarket mortgage advisors – which means we have access to every mortgage provider when it comes to finding residential and commercial mortgages for customers.

What makes it a special place to work? Our office is at the very tip of an arrowshaped building, with incredible views of the river and the Northern Spire Bridge. We call it The Penthouse. We watched every day as engineers put the pieces of the new bridge in place and floated equipment up the river.



It’s an amazing position to watch the changing skies and weather, rowers on the water and we even have a resident seal who keeps us entertained. We know how lucky we are to have a view like this and it certainly keeps us inspired and uplifted. Sunderland is beginning to make the most of its river again with all of the regeneration that’s going on and we’re already benefiting from that.

How has business been going?

We’ve been growing steadily year-on-year and we’re now a team of 11. There has been a phenomenal increase in demand since the pandemic. Many people have spent time rethinking where they’d like to live and the reduction of stamp duty introduced by the Government to stimulate the market has had our phones ringing off the hook!

For more information visit Find out more about the office space available at the North East BIC. 0191 516 6200


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There’s never been a better time to support the people that make our city tick...

Despite the crazy situation we all find ourselves in, our beautiful city is driving forward and we’ve just learned that Sunderland has become the first city in the North East to launch its own gift card scheme! Part of an on-going commitment to help boost the local economy, the Sunderland Gift Card is being pioneered by Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council, which has teamed up with Miconex, the company running the successful Town & City Gift Card scheme 10

at major locations across the country. The big news? Well, businesses of all types - including hospitality, retail, experiential and professional services - are being invited to sign up for the scheme, which will allow these nifty little cards to be spent at their venues. The Sunderland Gift Card will enable the recipients to spend the value at a whole range of outlets citywide, which could include cinemas, shops, beauty salons, hairdressers, restaurants and bars. With the likes of Primark, Greggs, Aphrodite, SAFC and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens all getting involved in the action this year, it’s fair to say that our friends at Sunderland BID have made ticking off your festive shopping oh so easy for us all this year. It’s a brilliant idea from some of our city’s leading businesses, and along with providing the ideal solution for hard-tobuy-for friends, family and colleagues, the gift card is also a brilliant way to encourage people into the city, spending money on a wide range of our inspiring businesses and therefore help support local economy now and in the future. Not only that, but the Sunderland Gift Card is taking the stress out of Christmas

" T H ERE’ S N E VE R B EEN A MO RE I MPORTA N T TI M E F OR PEO PL E TO S H O P LO CAL" by allowing us to buy at our own leisure. Gone are the days worrying about the hustle and bustle of the festive rush and given the uncertainty of 2020, the gift card scheme means you can bag your festive gifts from the comfort of your own home. The cards can be accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard and they can be purchased for amounts between £5 and £500 - gift them for Christmas, bag a unique gift for a special someone or save your gift card until the January sales - the choice is yours.





Sunderland’s Christmas Experience Get ready to search for all things festive and bright this Christmas! It may not be the Christmas we had hoped for this year, but our friends at Sunderland BID are ensuring that the city can still enjoy all things festive and bright with a fabulous, online schedule that’s packed to the rafters with fun things for you and the family to get involved with. Available all throughout December, you and your loved ones are being invited on an exhilarating mooch around the city to find your favourite festive characters hidden across some of Sunderland’s most iconic locations. Hold your horses, there's another surprise yet to come! You will find a combination of fun illuminated displays courtesy of Sunderland City Council, alongside BID’s Augmented Reality characters in the form of an outdoor community trail for all. The Christmas in Sunderland trail can be downloaded via the bespoke Sunderland Experience app on Apple and Android devices, which will guide you to the various locations across Sunderland city centre. The Christmas in Sunderland trail and app is now available and will run until 3 January 2021 - exciting news for all

the festive fanatics out there! The online fun doesn’t stop there either! The city’s beloved annual Reindeer Dash in support of the Red Sky Foundation, will still go ahead with people being able to buy tickets online to take part. This time, you and your bubble can carry out the run in your time between 1 – 24 December in their garden, in a park or even running up and down the stairs at home. It’s a fab way to embrace the festivities, get the blood pumping and do your bit for a local charity.

So there you have it, from dashing around the house for charity, to mooching across the city capturing classic Christmas characters, there’s plenty festive fun to be had this season. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO GET INVOLVED, WHERE TO BUY TICKETS FOR THE ANNUAL REINDEER DASH AND MUCH MOR E, BE SURE TO HEAD ON OVER TO SUNDERLANDBID.CO.UK

A message to you… As 2020 continues to shock and surprise us, we’re turning our attention to a portion of our community that is facing a monumental challenge this winter. You’ve heard it on the news, you’ve read it in the papers and it’s a constant message on social media. Our high-street stores, incredible independents and many more businesses around Wearside are fighting for their existence as Christmas rolls in. It’s time for us to step in and support wherever we can. Whether it’s shopping the latest seasonal goodies, tracking down the perfect presents or treating yourself to food and beauty treatments. If we want our favourite Sunderland businesses to stick around next year, it’s down to us to do our bit. So from everyone behind Sunderland Vibe, we’re asking you to make an extra special effort to support the high street this year and buy local wherever and however you can. Every pound in the tills of a business brings a smile to the

face of a Mackem, and it also helps ensure they’ll be there when you need them in the future. You’re not just buying a new jumper or a cool print, you’re buying dance lessons for young kids, you’re buying a teenager his best Christmas box to date and you’re putting food and drink on the table for families across the region. We don’t ask for much here at Sunderland Vibe - actually, we prefer to bring feel-good news about our city - but for our Christmas present this year, we’re asking you to shop local, shop Sunderland. We hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and we thank you for your fantastic support with Sunderland Vibe throughout the year.


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Game on!

Vibe’s pick of brilliant board games to keep the whole family entertained at home this winter...

SAFC Trivia Cards This super simple yet super Sunderlandspecific trivia game guarantees to challenge both young and old Mackems to the max. It’s 50 cards strong with 200 trivia questions on everything related to Sunderland AFC - think of it as a pub quiz sports round in your living room! Do you know which goalkeeper holds the most appearances for the Black Cats? Who is SAFC’s most capped player ever? These terrific trivia cards hold all the answers! SAFCSTORE.COM

Roker Park Jigsaw Puzzle Be sure to take a look at this beautiful 400-piece jigsaw of Roker Park Stadium! While we eagerly await the first game back at the Stadium of Light, this stellar jigsaw piece from Sports Stadia Art is the next best thing to get your football fix. Featuring fantastic art by the incredibly talented James Muddiman, it’s the perfect piece of nostalgia entertainment for the football fanatics in your household.

Throw Throw Burrito Make sure you clear away the festive feast before getting this game out! This energetic game sees players go head-tohead following on-card instructions and then attempt to hit loved ones with a super-soft toy burrito. It may be a good idea to move anything delicate before you commence, but it'll be well worth the effort. Expect hysterics around the table with this one!

Herd Mentality The latest from Big Potato Games is this nifty party piece where the most obvious answer wins. It’s pretty much a card game equivalent of Pointless, just the other way round! Write your answers down and if you’re in the majority, you win - but, if you’re not with the “herd” then you’ll be stuck with the pink cow. This comes complete with a tactile cow print box that’ll look good on any shelf after the festivities have finished. WATERSTONES.COM

Colourbrain A superb game to put players of different ages into teams and pit their knowledge against each other. From remembering the Olympic ring hues to the costumes of the Teletubbies, this game is all about colour. Exceedingly simple and super easy to play - and with 300 questions available, there’ll be something for all members of your bubble. WATERSTONES.COM

Pacman Monopoly

If you’re looking for something creative to try with the family then why not check out Sunderland Culture’s huge array of online activities? From art & craft packs and the hugely popular Rebel Women of Sunderland bedtime stories videos to intergenerational activities to share with your nan – there are plenty of things to try! For more information check out

We’ve searched high and low for a Sunderland AFC Monopoly board this year, but it looks like Santa and his elves have either sold out or just not bothered to make any - we’ll let you decide that one. However, we do have our eyes set on Pacman’s 40th anniversary Monopoly board and it’s one of the best about. Instead of money, it’s all about racking up points and on each turn, moving your icon and the ghost token. The aim is to get the most points as you race around, accumulating levels whilst avoiding the ghosts. It also keeps a total of each player's points, so it helps diffuse any likely cheating squabbles!




Online family activities to stay creative this winter






Could you have a career in foster care?

Make your move towards a more rewarding career become a foster carer with Together for Children.

Debbie, 46, and Billy, 61, from Washington, have been foster carers for the past seven years. After a friend of the couple adopted their child through Together for Children, Debbie and Billy found out about the opportunity to foster. They haven’t looked back since and have looked after eight children so far. Alongside her career in fostering, Debbie works part-time in a distribution warehouse, which enables her to attend meetings and training sessions alongside other foster carers in Sunderland. “We attended an information evening to find out more and then applied to become foster carers. We really enjoyed the process, which involved home visits and training. Fostering is emotionally rewarding, and we don’t see it as a job at all, it’s our vocation and our borrowed little ones are family to

us, even after they move on. We offer lots of ongoing support to parents during the transition and our biggest compliment is that we’re still in touch with every child we have fostered, because their parents know how much we loved their child while they were with us. We’re godparents to one of the children we looked after and one of the adopters gave their child our birth son’s name as a middle name, because they loved the bond they have. It’s the whole family who fosters, not just me and Billy – there’s a huge ripple effect on family and friends who treat them as family while they’re in our care.” Debbie regularly attends Together for Children’s Information Evenings – which are taking place virtually during the pandemic – where you can hear first-hand about their experience of being foster carers.

Visit to find out more.

Could you foster a child?

There’s no such thing as a typical foster carer – they come from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds. • Earn up to £34,320 per year plus allowances • A flexible, home-based role • Ongoing training and support • Short or long term foster caring opportunities

Find out more at or call our team on 0191 561 2223.



River Island

If you’re looking for a showstopping present, you can’t go wrong with a River Island buy. They’ve dropped an irresistible Christmas range perfect for the lady in your life. From statement coats and boujee bags, to staple boots and lush accessories, you’re guaranteed to find some fab seasonal goodies.

Whether you’re on the lookout for that special something for her, searching high and low for little ones or on the hunt for a statement piece for him, the Bridges has your Christmas lists covered…


The weather outside may be frightful, but Roman’s new Christmas collection is oh-so delightful! Discover everything from winter warmers that will help you beat the chill in style and handpicked party pieces designed to wow when it comes to partying at home.

Christmas Crackers TK Maxx



This mega store in the city centre is jam-packed with lovely mugs - the perfect stocking filler for comforting brews in front of the fire this winter, or for getting the home office in tip-top shape ahead of the new year!

JD Sports

Step up your gifting game this Christmas with JD Sports! With fresh fits, terrific trainers, awesome accessories and more, they’ve got gift ideas to suit everyone – whatever the budget. 14

Bring on the festive cheer with a dazzling selection of festive gifts in H&M’s Christmas shop. With everything from Christmas jumpers, wow-factor party dresses and glitzy accessories to leave her sparkling as the festive photoshoot swings into play, you’re guaranteed to find something here. We have our eyes on Susie Cave’s inspiration collection - flattering silhouettes and glamorous detail. Winner!


Topman is the place to be for trend-led fashion for him. Go here for stylish attire sure to put smiles on faces and smarten up your Christmas at home partywear.





Make Christmas morning out of this world for your littles one with Debenhams’ construction kit inspired by NASA's Mars rover. It’s easy to assemble for any little intergalactic traveller, and it's a fab stocking treat for any budding cosmonaut.

New Look


This is a home run when shopping for any health and beauty fanatic this December. Our friends at Next have got involved in all the advent calendar fun, and they’ve come up with 24 fab beauty treats to see you through the festive season. Includes lush lip gloss, black mascara, and all the essentials to wow Santa come the big day. The perfect treat if you’re looking for a pre-Christmas gift for someone special.



Get the little ones suited and booted for Father Christmas with Primark’s range of cute kids clothing. From festive t-shirts and sparkly dresses, to Christmas jumpers and cosy PJs, you’ll find plenty to fill the little ones’ stocking.

Before you sort your festive menu, before you get the kids kitted out for Christmas, get yourselves over to New Look and bag yourself a Christmas jumper for the pooch. Just look at it - need we say anymore?

Give the glorious gift of a Bridges Gift Card this Christmas! Whether it’s a wedding, a birthday or the biggest day of the year - Christmas - choosing the perfect gift has never been easier! You can even order your Gift Cards online for home delivery, and load them with cash of your choice, starting from as little as £5 all the way to £1,000 - if you’re feeling generous! The Bridges Gift Card provides more flexibility and choice than standard vouchers, as they can be spent at all participating retailers. Nice! The good news doesn’t stop there! They can be used numerous times at many different retailers until the amount loaded onto the card has been exhausted. It’s a fab little offer from our friends at the Bridges, and they’re helping our money go further this Christmas. Interested? Of course you are! Head online using the link below and find out how you can get your hands on the Bridges Gift Card. THEBRIDGES-SHOPPING.COM/HOME/GIFT-CARD


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Name: Matthew Thomas



Vibe loves loca

Editor, Sunderland Vibe

This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because… It’s a place that means a lot to me and somewhere I’ve spent most of my life growing up, creating memories and experiencing the trials and tribulations of living in a working-class city. Without our people, without our local community and without the businesses that make our city so unique, we’re absolutely nothing.

Photo credit: Andy Martin

David Brewis

Three places for Christmas gifts The Little Shop - What a little (no pun intended) gem this has turned out to be. The spot to shop Belgian beers, indulge in artisan wines and scran fresh donuts.

Kr.Illustrates - I’ve been following Kathryn’s work on Instagram for some time now, and I’ll definitely be bagging a print or two as a Christmas gift. Kathryn’s work is Sunderland-centric and she’s worked her magic at Sunderland Local History Library and the University of Sunderland. Aphrodite - Cool kit and sound people. Simple as that really.

Three unique city businesses Pop Recs - A cool culture hub ran by some pretty fabulous people. I’ve been visiting Pop Recs since my teenage years and still love to head down for a coffee and chat with Michael and co. Holmeside Coffee - Gutted we’re losing this little hangout next year. There’s arguably no better place in the city to chill, watch the world idle by and sip on their coffee creations. Fans Museum - I absolutely love everything about the Fans Museum; who they are, what they stand for and what they bring to the city. Michael and his incredible team have been a shining example of businesses using their resource and their platform for the benefit of others, and I know his work with Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Woolston provided a huge boost to the community during lockdown. 16

Title: Musician, Field Music

Three places for takeout food Ashoka - Shoutout to Akki and the team! Ashoka is hands down the best Indian restaurant in the North East (perhaps world) and nothing can or will change my mind. Aperitif - This lot take Italian comfort food to a whole new level. Check out their pollo al pepe this winter and thank me later. Wild Fire Pizza - The Wild Fire crew are new to the city but what a start they’ve made. They're stationed just outside Holmeside Coffee in Mowbray Park and their scran is simply sensational.

My local hero I’m going to cheat and include two local heroes - I’m allowed because I’m editor! A massive, unfaltering shoutout to the girls and boys at Sunderland Foodbank. Even before the stresses of 2020, they’ve been a vital lifeline for those in need and their dedication to helping the most vulnerable in our society is truly inspiring. Finally - this one is close to home - a heartfelt thank you to staff working tirelessly in schools and education facilities around our region. My lovely mother is a teaching assistant, and I’ve seen first hand just how difficult their job is in usual circumstances, never mind in a global pandemic!

This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because… I love our town! We live in Fulwell and I love that it still has a thriving high street. In the last few years there seems to be a minor boom in locallyowned independent shops, pubs and cafes in the city centre. There are lots of people trying to make Sunderland better in small and personal ways and I’d hate to see that derailed by the pandemic.

Three places for Christmas gifts The Little Shop - The ideal place to buy your fussy dad a bottle of wine and a bag of coffee beans. St Benedict’s Hospice Charity Shop Sea Road has loads of brilliant charity shops and second-hand shopping is a good solution if you’re trying to keep your Christmas carbon footprint down. This one is marginally my favourite because it gets the balance between great bargains and utter chaos just right. Müller Swiss Bakers - If you can resist scoffing them yourself, Müller’s gift boxes of sweet treats would make great Christmas presents.




Three unique city businesses The Good Apple Cafe - The best vegan cafe anywhere as far as I’m concerned. I consider it my life’s mission to try every single one of their lunchtime specials. Kathryn Robertson / KR Illustrates - Kathryn has been making art out of the city’s windows and walls for a couple of years now. You might have seen her cityscape illustrations on the windows of the Elephant Tea Room or the Civic Centre. It’s brilliant that an artist with such a recognisable style is imprinting it in such a pleasing way on the town. Vaux - I don’t think the new Vaux will ever dominate the city in the way the original did, but it’s great that some enthusiasts are trying to do justice to the name and make some delicious beers with a bit of local flavour and history.

Three places for takeout food Enfes - Amazing Turkish food, including plenty of veggie options and the finest Turkish bread and hummus you can imagine. Taboulleh - Delicious Lebanese food. We recently tried out their falafel wraps with smoky red pepper dip and they were divine. Mexico 70 - These guys know how to treat a cauliflower - and they know that hot sauce is an art form.

My local hero My local heroes at the moment are the staff at schools around the city. They’re doing an amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances. And I should make particular mention of the staff at Fulwelll Infants School because I see their incredible efforts every day.

Sir David Bell KCB Title: Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Sunderland This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because… We need to show solidarity to each other after a very difficult year. Our businesses have done a terrific job and now, more than ever, they need our backing.

Three places for Christmas gifts National Glass Centre - Owned by the University, the NGC has got some highlydistinctive gifts reflecting the best of modern glass-making. Sunderland AFC - We can’t be at the Stadium of Light in person at the moment, but plenty to choose from on the SAFC store website, including club face masks! The Bridges - We are very lucky to have such a clean, well-maintained and welcoming shopping centre in the heart of our city, with a very good range of shops.

STACK Seaburn - Credit to this business for keeping the faith and opening up in Sunderland in the autumn. A great venue and a genuinely distinctive attraction for the city. Love Lily - Ideal for a stop-off when you’re having a walk along the seafront at Roker. There’s often a queue because they’re so good!

Three places for takeout food Cole Kitchen - Fabulously distinctive takeaway food in Roker. Their Mumbai sandwich is to-die-for! The Bay - A relatively new fish and chip shop on the Seaburn seafront with deliciously large portions. The Funky Indianwali Home Catering Home cooked and home delivered food that is unbelievably delicious.

Three unique city businesses

My local hero

Flower Angels - A Sea Road business that never disappoints with their wonderful selection of beautifully displayed flowers for all occasions.

Local heroes in the plural - everyone in the business community in Sunderland who has helped us out in so many different ways since the spring. 17

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Charlotte Falloon Title:


John Green

Retail Liaison Manager, the Bridges Shopping Centre

This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because…

Sunderland is a very loyal community and we need to look after our unique businesses.

Three places for Christmas gifts Disney Store - The shop for all the magical Christmas needs! Menkind - Go here for a fantastic selection of weird and wonderful gifts for all ages. The Works - A great place to find some fun activities to do with the kids during lockdown. From painting to jigsaws - and a large selection of stationery and books, too.

Three unique city businesses The Looking Glass - Lovely food, unique decor and great vibes. Port of Call - Fantastic portions and good, wholesome food. The Fire Station - A great building with a really nice outlook and a simple, tasty menu.

Three places for takeout food Greggs - A staple in Sunderland and no working week is complete without one of their many sweet or savoury treats! Cakebox - Perfect for a special afternoon treat. Gluten free, light and fluffy cakes in so many different flavours. Always spoilt for choice! Bakers Oven - If I’m not in the Bridges then I love the homecooked feel of the Bakers Oven. Fantastic portions, superb, friendly service and lovely, filling comfort food. Delicious!

My local hero I’d like to give a special mention to our Soft Services Manager, Jamie Smith. Jamie has been part of the Bridges management team for a number of years and looks after all the housekeeping, security and car park teams. She has worked consistently throughout the lockdown, supporting our staff and ensuring the centre remains clean and safe for our customers and retailers. 18

Social Media Management Undergraduate

This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because… This year more than ever, it is super important to shop locally. The smallest companies have been hit hardest and by showing your support by purchasing or even through promoting and sharing online with friends, can and will make a massive difference! Our support as customers does not go unnoticed in our city’s incredible establishments.

donuts and delicious coffee! The Inkling Studio - Here, you can purchase the most gorgeous bespoke stationery written in modern calligraphy. Jules, the owner, offers personalised letters, handmade cards and bookmarks. This will make for a heartfelt gift this year. Port Independent - A vintage and streetwear clothing store selling unique pieces and also giving you a caffeine fix with a new in-house coffee shop, Coffeehaus.

Three places for Christmas gifts

Three places for takeout food

Harlow Collection - A sustainable, womenswear clothing brand featured in British Vogue, all pieces handmade by the owner, Hannah Wilson.

Flamingo Bar & Cafe - A healthy food spot serving clean, nutritious breakfast and lunch options in Seham.

Under The Ivy - This florist is home to all things beautiful. The perfect gift to let someone know how special they are this year. Terra Homeware - A home accessory brand offering handmade, sustainable homeware. This includes trinket dishes, coasters and pretty trays.

Three unique city businesses The Little Shop - This place stocks unique craft beer and wine alongside fresh

Freska - Flavoursome sharing dishes from around the world - perfect for at-home feasting! McKeiths Sandwich Bar Any Sunderland resident’s go-to spot for the best fresh sandwiches!

My local hero Sunderland Foodbank and all of their volunteers who continue to help those in need during the pandemic; supporting - and most importantly - feeding the city during this devastating year. Everyone in connection with the charity are my heroes!


a new lease of life with this fantastic, bespoke service. Port Bierhaus – “99 bottles of beer on the shelf, 99 bottles of beer…” If you’re looking for local brews and the hoppiest IPAs, you’ll find them all and so much more at this independent craft beer shop.

Natalie Dellow Title: Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Sunderland BID

This Christmas, I am supporting my local community because… It’s never been more important to shop and support local this Christmas – we are blessed to have a vast range of creative and passionate business owners in our city who are constantly diversifying so that you can experience the best of what they offer.

Three places for Christmas gifts

Reinvented with Love - Struggling to find something for that hard-to-buy-for person? Then why not give their existing furniture

Bou-Chique – Selling stylish, free style clothing and a range of beautiful accessories – the fab ladies at Bou-Chique will tell you that it’s all about how you style the piece, not how it fits.

Three unique city businesses

Coffeehaus - Hidden within Sunderland’s premier vintage menswear store Coffeehaus is the perfect stop to fuel your day with a flat white, or maybe indulge in a morning mocha? Take a Brow - Put your brows into the professional hands of Take a Brow and I promise, you’ll never reach for those tweezers ever again! Designer Childrenswear - Paving the way for childrenswear in the North East, this home-grown business is renowned for its high level of service and quality

'Tis the season of indulgence, and our friends at Villa Soft Drinks are back with another cracker to help us through the festive season!



products. Shop online or visit the flagship store on Derwent Street to take in the DC Christmas window.

Three places for takeout food

Angelo’s Ristorante - Bring the taste of Roma into your own home with Angelo’s authentic and traditional cuisine. Pair with a bottle of red to truly dine in style! BURGeR - No nonsense big portions, quality specials and mega taste… Need I go on? D’Acqua - Everyone has heard the name, but did you know they now offer takeout? Head Chef Jimmy Shadforth continues to whip up the finest meals / Sunday lunches and Christmas specials for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

My local hero I would like to highlight our SR1 Street Ranger, Lee Taylor as my local hero. Lee has worked to ensure businesses are safe and looked after ahead of their reopening. Lee meets every job with a can-do attitude and has been instrumental in implementing safety measures across the city centre.

This super Southwick business is turning to drinks of the alcoholic kind this Christmas, and it’s the news we’ve all been waiting for. Their delicious dandelion & burdock, sarsaparilla and rhubarb & ginger gin creations are destined to go down a treat across Wearside. Wrapping up a bottle of this for Christmas Day will definitely score you brownie points - or an extra roastie or two - and we’re pretty excited to bring you an exclusive offer for Vibe readers!




So, since it’s the season of goodwill, our friends at Villa Soft Drinks are offering readers a 70cl bottle of gin, gift boxed with two mixers, for just £35 - including delivery for a limited time only. They’re also offering six James Fenwick gin glasses for £15 too - result! How do I get my hands on these gorgeous gin flavours? Well, all you need to do is quote Sunderland Vibe, email your order to n.barker@villasoftdrinks. and wait as the tipple is delivered straight to your doorstep – it’s as simple as that! All other Villa Soft Drinks products are available online. For a full list of delicious soft drinks, head over to and make sure you indulge in a true Sunderland icon this Christmas. 19

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of bows you’re likely to go through when wrapping for the big day! It’s a great way to save the planet and prep for next year.

Vouchers are your new best friend

Managing your money during the Christmas period While it’s incredibly easy to lose ourselves in the indulgence of the festive period, the uncertainty of this year and the months to come means we all have to keep a watchful eye on those pounds coming out the bank this Christmas. Vibe checks in with Sunderland City Council to learn what top tips we can all take to manage our money during the festivities… Set yourself a budget It’s a simple tip, but we all know how easy it is to get carried away, especially at Christmas! Careful budgeting will help you to stay organised, enable you to keep on track with your spending and ensure that we don’t endure any nasty surprises come the new year.

Research your entitlements Do you know what your rights are and

what money you are entitled to? The effect of COVID-19 has made it more important than ever to ensure you know your rights and are getting the benefits and entitlements you need - especially over Christmas!

Recycle bows, gifts and tags Keeping hold of gift bags, bows and other Christmas paraphernalia may not seem like much at the time, but just think about how many rolls of wrapping paper and packs

You’ve seen how much we’re loving the new Sunderland Gift Card scheme! Not only is your present ticked off for that hard-to-buy-for family member, but your gift voucher is paid to a set amount, meaning your budget won’t spiral out of control and you’re able to keep track of what’s entering and leaving your purse.

Get help and advice Make sure you are getting the help and advice you need when it comes to managing. There are plenty of providers across the city who offer free, confidential and independent advice. You could join the Moneywise Credit Union; it’s an ethical and affordable way to access loans (including transferring more expensive debts for lower repayments), to help borrow wisely or start saving to be prepared for the future. Take a look at the Company Shop and get reduced price food and household supplies. The Company Shop sells high quality food and household brands at low prices and helps the environment at the same time. Based at Pattinson North Industrial Estate in Washington, this nifty little store prevents good quality surplus stock going to waste by selling it through its member-only superstore. Another top tip to save some dosh is making your home warmer for less. You could qualify for an Energy Company Obligation (ECO) grant - a Government energy efficiency scheme that can help qualifying households keep warm and healthy during the cold winter months and save money on fuel bills helping you to claw back a few pounds for Christmas!






How and where to donate this Christmas…

We’re back to shout about some seriously inspiring Sunderland folk... Red Sky Foundation The friendly folk at Red Sky Foundation just keep on delivering the goods - and we love nothing more than shouting about their efforts! Their goodwill shows no sign of slowing down as they’re giving our readers the chance to WIN a stunning Hyundai i10 worth over £17,000 - all in the name of charity! All you need to do is text RED to 70215, give something to charity and get those fingers and toes crossed for 18 January when the winner will be announced! REDSKYFOUNDATION.COM

Brenda Naisby

Lillian Griffiths

Let’s hear it for Brenda Naisby! She has recently won a national award for her work in the local community and has been an outstanding voice against domestic abuse. Working alongside our friends at Gentoo, Brenda has played an active role in her local community for more than five years, giving something back to the organisation that supported her and provided her with a home safe from abuse. Starting with a lunch club in her hometown, Brenda, alongside Gentoo employees, prepared home-cooked meals in the local community centre for residents to alleviate social isolation and bring a smile to faces. GENTOOGROUP.COM

Lillan Griffiths has been fundraising for charities for the last 30 years, and she’s recently raised a fabulous £3,450 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Lilian has been selling second hand goods in exchange for donations to this iconic charity, and it’s a win-win situation; people pick up rare CDs, second hand books and DVDs for a bargain price, and the proceeds go to a beautiful North East charity. Keep going Liliian - we’re all right behind you!

Deano Franciosy Let’s hear it for Deano Franciosy! This magical Mackem took on the Virtual London Marathon with an added challenge and has raised a hefty sum for a local charity. This inspiring local is a Sunderland City Council Waste Operative, and he recently completed a marathon for St Oswald’s - which is a huge feat in itself - but he’s done it with a wheelie bin attached to his back! It’s a monumental effort from Deano, and it also means that he has raised over £20,000 for different North East charities over the last 20 years. Nice one! STOSWALDSUK.ORG


Cards for Good Causes Another local charity doing big things for out community is Cards for Good Causes! This small but mighty charity has just announced that they are now open in the Bridges for all your Christmas card needs. They're a not-for-profit organisation that has a huge selection of charity Christmas cards and gifts in stock - and the best bit is, 100% of its proceeds go to local and national charities. This generous lot repesent the likes of Cancer Research UK, Barnardo's, Alzheimer's Society and RNLI. CARDSFORCHARITY.ORG.UK

You’ve read about the inspiring stories from our local heroes, now it’s your turn to be a magical Mackem and give something back to the Wearside community during the winter period. We’ve put together a guide to just some of the spots across the city where you can donate food parcels, gifts and toiletries to those who need it most. Christmas is a time to put smiles on faces after all!


Sunderland Foodbank Coronation Street, SR1 2HE

Washington Community Food Project The Galleries, NE38 7SD


Shelter Sunderland

High Street West, SR1 3DE

Sunderland BHF

Fawcett Street, SR1 1RH

Community School Clothing Scheme Fawcett Street, SR1 1SE communityschoolclothingscheme


Bundles For Babies Sunderland Whitehouse Road, SR2 8AH bundlesforbabies sunderland

Love, Amelia

Whitehouse Road, SR2 8AH 21

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University of Sunderland student Ryan Boyle with wife Erin, step daughter Ellen, 10, step-son Fionn, seven, and two-year-old son Gabriel.


We Care at Christmas: How the University of Sunderland family changed Ryan’s life Christmas will be different for many of us this year, but a new appeal from the University of Sunderland is aiming to make life a little easier.


Student Ryan Boyle knows better than most what a difference a little care and compassion can make to those most in need. That’s why the University has launched the We Care at Christmas appeal, to support care experienced and estranged students at its Sunderland and London campuses. But in a year like no other, the need for compassion, understanding and a helping hand has never been more important.


Of course, looking after students is nothing new for the University of Sunderland. The University’s ‘We Care’ initiative – from which the Christmas campaign springs – nurtures and develops estranged students through their university life. The scheme has just won a national NEON award, coming on the back of Sunderland being named University of the Year for Social Inclusion in The Times Good University Guide. Ryan Boyle, 29, is currently studying for a PGCE at the University with the aim of becoming an art and music teacher specialising in teaching SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) young people, aged 15 to 18. Ryan went into care when he was just 14, and spent time living on the streets. “I spent time in care between the ages of 14 and 16,” says Ryan. “I was failed by social services and placed back into a bad family situation, which resulted in no stability and periods of homelessness. “I struggled a lot with ongoing issues from those experiences, up until a few years ago, when I found love in the form of my amazing wife Erin.” Now, Ryan has settled into family life with Erin, and step daughter Ellen, 10, step-son Fionn, seven, and their two-yearold son Gabriel. Ryan says: “I’m starting fresh, and I like to think I've always been a compassionate person in a harsh world. That's why I'm training to be a teacher so I can hopefully be a role model for others, as some teachers have been for me. “For the last two years I’ve been working in the care sector, barely making ends meet. In addition to the low wage and



The University of Sunderland's award-winning We Care team

long hours, I had to take a few months off to recover from surgery, which left us in dire straits – we had to survive on statutory sick pay throughout the lockdown which is about £378 per month. “A friend of my wife's suggested that I apply to study for a PGCE at Sunderland, which came with access to a £15,000 bursary which is paid in monthly instalments if you followed the specialist pathway for special educational needs and disabilities. “I was also granted the We Care Scholarship, which is an additional £2,000 across the year to help support my family during my studies, which I’m incredibly grateful for. “I have to admit that when my wife told me about this I had actual tears of joy. Life had been such a grind for so long, though we tried to make the best of it. Not to mention


the added pressure of the pandemic. “My time in care was a horrendous experience that I’ve tried to forget, but at least now something positive has come out of it. I give my thanks to the We Care team for this and I think it’s wonderful that such a team exists because people like me who don’t come from a conventional family have as much right to do well in life as anyone.” Ryan will be spending Christmas at home with his young family, but many care experienced and estranged students will spend Christmas alone. The We Care at Christmas appeal is raising funds to support care experienced and estranged students at the University’s Sunderland and London campuses. For many of these students, Christmas will be a time they will spend alone perhaps without a card, gift, festive meal or companionship. For those students with children, it is a particularly difficult time trying to provide for their children, while making Christmas special. University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, has backed the campaign and is asking staff and University supporters to donate funds and their time. He said: “Our care-experienced and estranged students are a valued and important part of our University community and now is our opportunity to remind them, in a very practical way, of how much they mean to us.” If you would like to find out more about the appeal, or donate, go to the We Care at Christmas Go Fund Me page: 23


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In Conversation: David Brewis - Field Music Matthew Thomas checks in with David Brewis, one half of the brother duo that head up iconic Wearside rockers, Field Music, to talk about growing up in the city, their journey to a Mercury Music Prize nomination and Christmastime in Sunderland.

VIBE: What’s your earliest memory of music? DB: I remember the compilations our mam and dad used to play in the car songs like Dance To The Music by Sly & The Family Stone, Melanie’s cover of Ruby Tuesday, Maneater by Hall and Oates and a live version of Knock On Wood by David Bowie.

VIBE: Who were your influences growing up? DB: We discovered Led Zeppelin around the same time we started playing instruments, so they were a huge influence, along with Free. A little while later we became total Beatles nerds - and we still are!

VIBE: Was music always going to be your calling? DB: Music started to dominate our lives very soon after we started playing, but we were both fairly bright at school so it seemed sensible to keep up the academic subjects at college and university and play music on the side.

VIBE: How did Field Music come about? DB: My brother Peter and I had been in separate bands, trying to turn our weird ideas into something you could actually listen to and enjoy. We realised that if we were ever going to make the music we had in our heads, we couldn’t rely on someone else showing us how to do it and we’d be better off pooling our resources. So, we combined our bands and made the first Field Music album in our own practice room in Monkwearmouth. 24

Photo credits: Andy Martin


VIBE: Your 2012 Mercury Music Prize nomination must have been a proud moment. How do you feel looking back at your achievements? DB: We’ve mostly managed to insulate ourselves from the proper music industry. We’ve worked with the same label, the same PR and the same radio plugger for years and years, so being involved in the Mercury Prize was a trip into alien territory for us. But, yes, it was a good experience - but it also reminded us why we like to keep things in-house and DIY.

VIBE: What can you tell us about growing up in Sunderland? DB: I have nothing to compare it to! We lived on Hylton Road until I was five, which was a much busier thoroughfare back then. Both sets of grandparents lived further down Hylton Road in Pennywell. We spent a lot of time on the Jolly Bus or sitting in our dad’s Morris Marina pretending to be the Dukes of Hazzard. Then we moved to Cleadon Village which felt like the countryside to us! It meant that our loyalties were a little bit divided between Sunderland and South Shields. But we’d still head over to Pennywell to see my nanna most nights after school and we’d still go to Louis’ on Park Lane every Saturday morning and beg to see the Star Wars toys downstairs in Joplings or the Lego in Josephs.

VIBE: How has Sunderland had a part to play in your success? DB: When we were starting out, there wasn’t much in the way of music infrastructure in Sunderland, so we became very self-reliant and selfcontained. As the music industry has changed, that attitude has served us pretty well. I also think we have a pretty standard North East work ethic. You don’t ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, you don’t take yourself too seriously - even if you take the work very seriously, you get stuck in, and you don’t whinge. That comes very much from our mam and dad, but I certainly associate it with the North East.

VIBE: How have you managed as a band in this brave new world? DB: We have managed to get a bit of work done but I’ve also learned to set expectations pretty low.



VIBE: What do you miss the most about live shows? DB: I miss the guys and girls in the band and I miss the daft banter we have with our audience. We’re very lucky to have found an audience who appreciate our sense of humour.

VIBE: Your top five lockdown albums? VIBE: From an artist's point of view, how can we support the arts sector in the current climate?

The Mothership Connection by Parliament Sign o’ The Times by Prince Highway by Free Harvest by Neil Young Avalon by Roxy Music

DB: The big one - and I think lots of people have been doing this anyway - is not to cancel your tickets to events. If things are rescheduled, hang on to your tickets if you can. If you like buying records, keep buying them. Buy online from your local record shop or go to an artist’s Bandcamp page and buy from there. Engage with artists online - most of us are trying to stay busy though social media. We appreciate it and it’s the easiest way for us to let people know what we’re up to.

VIBE: How is your Christmas shaping up this year?

VIBE: We’re big fans of the work Laura and the We Make Culture team provide for the community. Are these initiatives key to reconnecting as a society?

VIBE: Any interesting festive traditions?

DB: I think it’s important to Laura that the We Make Culture projects share the idea that people can connect through cultural activities - especially music. The Pop Choirs have become real community hubs, the Young Musicians Project lets young musicians and songwriters feel like they’re doing it as a team, and Front Street Songs brings a bit of joy to people’s doorsteps.

VIBE: Lockdown live streams have become increasingly popular. Do livestream performances have a place in the music industry moving forward? DB: As ever with us, we tried to do something quite technically ambitious with a very limited team of people so we had a few issues which we’ll learn from. I don’t think they can replace the live music experience - the visceral thrill of being in the same space as the music as it’s made - but I think it can be a potential new avenue for getting to people and it can be done creatively.

DB: In some ways the pressure will be off. We probably can’t have the big extended family day and the trips to see every second cousin and long-lost aunt. It’ll be very hard for people who live alone or who are far away from their nearest and dearest, but this is a year for hunkering down and getting through to the other side. Perhaps we’ll reschedule the big get-togethers for Easter.

DB: I do have a tradition with my best friend from school. We meet up at my parent’s old house on Christmas Eve and walk up to the village shop to get a mint Aero. I don’t think either of us would dream of eating a mint Aero at any other time of year, but we’ve been doing this for nearly thirty years now so we’re stuck with it. Even if we don’t see each other at all for the next twelve months, we know we’ll get to catch up and talk nonsense for half an hour.

VIBE: What’s next for Field Music? DB: We’re just finishing our next album for a release next spring. We’ll have to figure out how we get that out to people if playing live has to be a smaller part of that. We’re also in the final stages of getting the Paint The Town In Sound exhibition ready at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. 25

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City culture: every day, any way We may be unsure when the doors to Sunderland’s cultural venues may open again, but Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, National Glass Centre, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Arts Centre Washington still have plenty to explore, enjoy and take part in online until the time is right! Supporting our local creative community As a continuation of their work to support local artists and creative businesses, each Thursday Sunderland Culture will be spotlighting the fabulous work being done in our city on their social media channels. Follow #CreativeCitySunderland to discover and support the artistic talent on your doorstep.

Art Crush Swipe right and find your art match! Art Crush is a FREE fun new app from Sunderland Culture and Arts Council Collection, to create your very own art collection and discover your art personality. Available to download from Apple and Android devices:

Are you missing the panto this year? Head to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and follow the Panto Trail to explore their collections and find out how much you know about pantomime characters. And just in case they can’t reopen the doors to the museum as soon as they’d like, they’ll be offering a Panto Quiz, so you can still get into the Panto spirit online! For more information visit:

‘Tis the season for buying gifts and National Glass Centre's new online shop is jam-packed with locally-crafted products. With a dedicated Christmas range, including their famous glass baubles and snowmen, alongside studio glass and jewellery, you can find beautiful artist-made gifts for your loved ones. Plus, Gifted 20 – National Glass Centre’s annual selling exhibition - is now online, offering truly unique, high quality work across a broad price range, created by artists working locally, nationally and internationally in glass and ceramics. For more information visit:




Panto Trail at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens


Buy local this Christmas at National Glass Centre’s NEW online shop!




Backing local business... THE North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) is on a mission to inspire entrepreneurial activity in Sunderland. During lockdown, many people have found their un-tapped talents and the BIC is helping them turn their hobbies into successful businesses. Louise Black approached the BIC with the hope of fitting her working and family life together and turn a skill she loved into a real career. She has now launched her bespoke handmade gifts tand keepsakes business – Cherry Blossom Boutique. “I’ve always wanted to have my own business doing what I love, designing and making things and generally being creative and utilising my skills,” said Louise. Fashion design graduate Louise met with BIC start-up adviser Ron Anderson who helped her create a business plan and gave her advice on marketing her business and book-keeping. Louise said: “Ron helped focus my ideas and lead me step by step to create a plan that was both robust and dynamic.”

Louise only managed to set out her stall at two local markets with her handmade goods before the country went into lockdown. “Of course, this was something that wasn’t covered in my business plan. However, adapting truly came into force. I turned my focus to setting up my online shop on Etsy and concentrated on my social media. “I began to make facemasks as they were in high demand and decided to roll them out on social media, offering quality fabrics and giving people the ability to choose their own colours and prints. Starting a business is a challenging time and 2020 has delivered many unforeseen hurdles for entrepreneurs to negotiate. “It has been tough at times,” said Louise.

“But I’ve soldiered on, adapted, listened and learnt and I wouldn’t change it for the world! I will continue to roll with the punches and build on my ideas with the support of Ron and the team at the BIC. “I am extremely lucky to be able to do what I love whilst spending time with my daughter, watching her develop and grow.” Paul McEldon, chief executive of the BIC said: “Louise is a brilliant example of an entrepreneur in 2020. She has adapted and changed her business plan to keep pushing her business forward and we’re proud to be able to support small businesses such as hers.”

You can support Louise’s business on Instagram at @cherryblossomboutiquene. For more information on business support visit:


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New year, new you, new future Make education your new year’s resolution... We're excited to learn that Sunderland College has launched a variety of courses to help adults across Wearside gain new skills, knowledge and experience to boost their future employment prospects. The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the UK economy, with many businesses closing or furloughing workers as they struggle to adapt to the ‘new normal’. The courses, enrolling for January 2021, are available at varying levels and offer learners the chance to discover new opportunities, further their careers or progress to university. In addition, there are free courses for people wanting to improve English, maths and ICT skills, with others focussed on employability and getting back into work. From full-time and flexible part-time courses to short courses and online learning, studies can fit around learners’ lifestyles and family or work commitments. Interim Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality, Judith Quinn, said: “Our range of courses starting in January is extensive and are designed to meet the demands of our learners’ work and lifestyle commitments, an ever-changing employment landscape, as well as improving their family’s health and wellbeing in times of uncertainty. “Many of our courses are free and are available online or flexibly, and whichever programme learners choose, there will be a range of resources, tutorials and one-to-one support available to help them along the way.” Those who are worried about how


COVID-19 will impact their learning, smaller group sizes give students a more personal and supported approach to studying and are well suited for face-to-face learning while social distancing measures are still in place, or you can learn at your own pace through a huge selection of distance learning courses. Sunderland College’s Access to Higher Education courses are well established with a great reputation for those who want to progress for university but don’t have the required grades, or who have been out of formal education for a while. For adults looking to gain a university-level qualification, the college delivers higher national courses part-time, using a blended approach to combine the benefits of classroom-based and online learning. The college's BTEC Higher Nationals in Business are perfect for those seeking a formal qualification in the world of


business or looking to boost their career prospects because of their emphasis on developing practical skills alongside specialist industry knowledge. Free distance learning courses are also available to people looking to make the most of their free time, or expand their horizons without needing to come onto campus. All study resources are sent via email along with deadline dates for completed workbooks and assignments. Essential digital skills for everyday life are a highlight of the new offer too, enabling learners to get to grips with an increasingly digitally focused world. Courses to support families and children’s mental health and wellbeing – especially during such challenging times – are also available, as are hobby focussed topics for those seeking a new interest, wanting to develop an existing one, or have fun meeting new friends.

Meet Sunderland’s new Executive Director of Public Health What made you decide to come back to the North East? What do you think about it? I was born and brought up in the North East. The pandemic made me realise how important the local community is to me. I was also really attracted by the job and the chance to make a difference. I think the thing about Sunderland is that people are so warm and friendly, and they really look out for each other. That’s something that’s never mattered more than it does now when the only way we’re going to defeat this virus is by all working together.

Covid-19 has dominated our lives this year and there are a lot of rules which we are being asked to live by. Why are things like washing hands, wearing face coverings and keeping our distance so important? People in Sunderland have been brilliant at following the rules since the start of the pandemic and I want to thank them for everything they’ve done and all the sacrifices they’ve made in the fight against Covid-19. The basic guidance around HANDS, FACE, SPACE really is our best defence at the moment alongside following all of the latest rules.

Gerry Taylor is the new Executive Director of Public Health & Integrated Commisioning in Sunderland.

The reason why it’s so important to wash our hands regularly is that Covid can live on surfaces indoors for more than 24 hours. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser regularly reduces the risk of catching Covid or passing it on if you have it already.

She joined Sunderland City Council at the beginning of November and we grabbed a few minutes with her to ask about her job and why the rules we’re all living by to help in the fight against Covid-19 are so important.

Wearing a face covering is important because Covid is carried in the air by tiny droplets which people breathe out if they have the virus. While larger droplets can land on other people or on the surfaces that they touch, smaller droplets can stay in the air indoors for at least five minutes or longer where there is no ventilation. So, wearing a face covering means anyone who has Covid is much less likely to spread it.

Tell me a bit about your new role and what it involves? My new role is all about improving the health and wellbeing of our 277,000 residents and tackling some of the health inequalities our communities are facing. Creating healthier communities and helping people live healthier, longer, happy and independent lives has never been more important than it is now. And I am really pleased to be returning to my native North East to work as part of Sunderland’s team to improve health and reduce inequalities.

Similarly, the reason why we’re asking people to stay 2 metres apart is that the virus is most likely to spread when we’re within 2 metres of each other. The closer we get, the higher the chance of infection. We know this is not always possible but it can really help in reducing the spread of the virus so we should try to do it where we can and we should use other precautions such as face coverings where we can’t. Covid spreads really easily, particularly in enclosed spaces, so we need everyone to keep following the latest advice if we’re to keep our families and our communities safe. For the latest information visit:

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Patrick Gosling 2 April 2021

Our 2020 diaries may have not gone to plan, so we’ve put together a special 2021 Get Ahead guide that’s full of unmissable dates at some of our city’s biggest venues. Diaries at the ready…

Photo credit: Evan Ifekoya, The Gender Song, 2014. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © the artist.

Paint the Town in Sound Coming soon One for all you art and music fans alike! Paint the Town in Sound is a brand-new exhibition which explores the long tradition of cross-over between art and music Curated by Sunderland band Field Music (feat. on page 24), the exhibition examines links between music, pop culture and visual art as well as musicians and artists. As well as traditional artworks, it will also feature music videos and a huge display of historic north east album covers.Plus, the band will be providing a Spotify list of tracks from each of the albums featured for you to listen as you browse the exhibition! SUNDERLANDCULTURE.ORG.UK

Time to support all things local and that includes Patrick Gosling’s exclusive gig at Independent! Hailing all the way from sunny South Shields, Patrick Gosling is arguably one of the brightest rising indie stars from the North East and he’s a constant fixture on our office stereo. With three singles released so far in 2020, we’re tipping big things in the near future, and can’t wait until the days we can see him live on stage once again. Not long to go, folks! Tickets on sale now. Don’t miss it! INDEPENDENTSUNDERLAND.COM

Rob Brydon - A Night of Songs and Laughter 22 April 2021 We’re chomping at the bit to get ourselves back in the plush red theatre seats! One of the first shows we’ll be rushing to at the turn of the year is Gavin and Stacey funnyman, Rob Brydon! He’s heading into the city next year for one night only don’t say we never warned you! Featuring a sensational live band, A Night of Songs & Laughter tells Rob's personal musical journey from South Wales to Hollywood and back. With a hugely entertaining and sometimes brilliant selection of tunes


School of Rock 7 - 12 June 2021 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 Jack Black has just been announced and we’re pretty buzzing about this one. What’s it all about, we hear you ask? Well, wannabe rock star Dewey Finn is cast out by his dive-bar bandmates and finds himself in desperate need of cash to keep a roof over his head. He decides 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. 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

Lamplight Festival 2021 7 - 8 August 2021 The streets will be alive with the sound of music as Lamplight Festival heads to the city next summer! We’re over the moon that Sunderland will be welcoming its first ever Lamplight Festival to Mowbray Park next August. Organised by Sunderland City Council, the festival will play host to UK indie-rock giants, Kaiser Chiefs on Saturday 7 August, with Sunderland’s very own Frankie & The Heartstrings confirmed as special guests. Plus, Glasgow rock icons, Deacon Blue will round off the festival with an unmissable headline set on Sunday 8 August. With more venues, artists and activities set to be announced in the coming months, we’re keeping our eyes fixed on this major 2021 music date! A great Christmas present for friends and family this year, be sure to bag your tickets using the link below. Trust us, this is a mega music date you don't want to miss out on! LAMPLIGHTFESTIVAL.CO.UK

TO A DV ERTI SE CALL 0 1 91 5 0 0 78 67 OR E MAIL R EB EC CA @ R EM EM B ER M EDI A . C O.UK


from the likes of Tom Jones and Tom Waits, as well as his famed impressions of the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Caine and Steve Coogan, Rob will have you rolling in the aisles laughing as he recounts hilarious tales from his past.


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Join us in celebrating the countdown to Christmas 2020 with a fantastic online programme with activities for everyone to enjoy! • Be Merry and Bright and show us your Christmas lights for a chance to win a Sunderland Gift Card • Draw along with author and illustrator Liz Million as she brings to life some snowy animals and Christmas characters • It’s time to get creative with our competition to design a Christmas Card

• Step into Christmas with festive challenges on the Step Up Sunderland App • Get ready to sing along with online Carol services • Join Santa on Christmas Eve reading the very special T’was the Night Before Christmas

With this and much more to enjoy please visit: for full details