Sale West Voice Launch Edition - Final Edit

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Kim K Photohraphy








NEWS 3 We take a look at Trafford budget cuts 15 How safe is your child online? 23 Know your rights as a private tenant

COVER STORIES 7 Mindfulness - its all in your head

5 Sale West - the truth behind the headlines




elcome to the introductory issue of Sale West Voice, a monthly community driven magazine offering a balance of hard-hitting news reports and local features with lighter, fun reads and reviews.


community. This is where Sale West Voice comes in.

Published monthly with plans to distribute across Sale West within the coming year, the SWV magazine is committed to supporting the community and utilising homegrown tal“ T O G E T H E R local ent wherever possible.

We hope to retain the spirit and WE ARE ethos of SaleWestVoice commuAs it says on the cover – this is your commuS T R O N G E R ” nity, nity group and our catch line your voice and here is an opportunity to be heard. ‘Every Voice Counts’ has never been truer as we call for you to get involved We would like you to get involved. in making Sale West Voice Magazine a sucPlease send us your news, pictures and anything else you cess. would like to see in the magazine.

Sale West Voice is a hyper-local community group which started from a desire for change. Communication between the authorities and residents had become almost non-existent when, back in 2012, there was a spate of violent crime in Sale West. The lack of information provided by the local agencies led to a small team of residents taking matters into their own hands and SaleWestVoice, or SWV as it has become known, was born. Starting with petitions for clearer information regarding crime and moving onto the ‘Irwell Valley Mould Files’, SWV attracted over a thousand members within days and has continued to grow since. Sharing information on a daily basis, advertising local small traders and helping to track down countless cats and one child, SWV has become a hub of local news that many residents turn to in times of need, whether that be something as simple as a phone number or more serious such as bedroom tax rules and implications.

Kim K Photohraphy


The newspapers that cover Trafford (Messenger and Advertiser) are not distributed on Sale West, leaving residents ‘out of the loop’ as regards to local news, job opportunities, or simply having an awareness of what is going on in the wider

Have an idea for a feature or section? Tell us. Think we’re missing something? Please let us know If you are a budding reporter/critic/photographer Sale West Voice wants you - we are always looking for people to get involved and can offer you a platform to showcase your work. Whatever your talent, hobby or interest, if you would like to share it, please get in touch. For more information or to get involved you can message us on our Facebook page, SaleWestVoice, or drop us an email at Look forward to hearing from you and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very AN happyOPPORChristmas. “IF YOU HAVE




t’s said that us Brits love nothing more than talking about the weather. Never was this theory proved more true than over the past week or so. The headlines read 'Freezing February', 'Thermal Thursday' and temperatures of -15C forecast, sent us into a frantic, climatic frenzy. From the milkman to my own mother, I'd been warned of treacherous climates. I wasn't sure it was even safe to leave the house. I went out anyway - looking for somewhere cosy I could entertain the kids in Sale. Bean and Brush is easy to find but parking isn't so easy. A word of warning, carparks are limited, anything from one to two hours and everywhere else is owned by the clamper van man.

WITH THE KIDS big lampshades, lines of cakes and pastries on display by the till and the smell of bacon and coffee filling the air. It was busy but calm, a contrast from what we'd just come from. The craft area is at the back of the building, up a small set of stairs. There is a lift for wheelchair access. We were greeted and the rules and prices are explained. The session costs £2.50 plus the cost of the shape/craft you choose (£3.75 for us).

The adults had an egg mayonnaise sandwich and scrambled egg-on-toast, both of which were delicious. This place is an absolute gem. We thoroughly enjoyed our crafty morning, perhaps even more then the kids did. The staff were friendly and helpful and the environment was very relaxing.

Having two 'lively' children we declined anything ceramic, choosing to try our hand at Decopatch, which involves pasting and varnishing paper cut outs to different shaped objects. The shelves were full of shapes to choose from. We went for dinosaurs. Then we selected the paper and got to work creating our masterpieces.

We escaped the madness outside and went in. The cafe is warm and welcoming; wooden floors, red walls,

The kids menu is great and very reasonably priced. We ordered pasta with tomato sauce and a cheese and tomato pizza. Both dishes were freshly made and generous portions.

Once finished our dino's were put into a bag and we moved down to the cafe area to have lunch.

It's a fabulous place to spend a few hours with the kids and friends - plus the children can proudly take their works of art home to show off or giveaway as a gift. And more importantly, you don't have to clean up all the mess.



he former Manor House on Manor Avenue in Sale has had a major refurbishment and is now The Samuel Brooks, subtitled 'pub and dining' and a further subtitle 'friends and family'. Still a Hydes outlet there are three handpumps with Hydes Original and two other beers, either seasonals or beers from the Beer Studio. The new menu is available 12 to 9 seven days with various special offers most days, one being an over 60's lunch club, 12 to 4 Monday to Friday. The new layout is not that far removed from the old one just bigger and certainly has a lighter feel with huge picture windows on three sides, although it is possible to eat throughout, the large room to the left of the entrance is dedicated to family dining and the other rooms are restricted to over 18s. A feature of the re-vamp is the varied and unusual furniture from many sources, recycled factory tables and benches

alongside the traditional soft bench seats offer a varied look to the interior. At one end is a vault type area with a large screen TV and a

dartboard and at the other a substantial outdoor section containing the traditional bench seats and tables, in the middle of one space is an old timey butter churn, this is just one of the unusual objects which are peppered around the place.



ocated in Trafford Park Manchester, Jump Nation is the UK’s very first indoor trampoline park.

Conveniently situated near iNTU Trafford Centre with ample free parking, the venue boasts 139 trampolines all connected together to form one huge bounce area. Unique features include angled trampolines that link different bounce levels and provide a range of exciting bounce experiences. Catering for children’s parties, family groups, schools and corporate hospitality, Jump Nation provides something for just about anyone, regardless of age, shape or physical ability with supervision and assistance provided at all times to ensure you have the best and safest time possible. The venue supports a wide range of activity which includes everything from bounce sessions for all to enjoy, to rebounding fitness classes, an under 5's area and huge foam pit joined to the main arena where you can practice your tricks! They also offer birthday party packages, group events, corporate team building days or tailor made packages to suit your particular requirements – making Jump Nation the ideal day or night out for the entire family.

OPENING HOURS OVER 5’s Monday - Thursday 10am-9pm Friday & Saturday 10am-10pm Sunday 10am-8pm UNDER 5’s Monday - Sunday 10am-6pm Booking highly recommended - call 0161 710 2360


TRAFFORD COUNCIL REVE LABOUR COUNCILLOR ACCUSES TRAFFORD OF ‘DEVASTATING THE BOROUGH’ AS NEW BUDGET HITS MOST VULNERABLE rafford’s Conservative-controlled council recently released its planned budget for the year 2014 – 2015. As anticipated, the cuts run deep, and make grim reading for all of us.


The few remaining, paid staff of the library are being replaced with volunteers and have been sold down the proverbial river. Over the years they have served the library service with distinction, yet they are being rewarded with the loss of their jobs to be replaced by an unpaid workforce. Labour Shadow Spokesman for Finance Cllr Barry Brotherton says: “Over the last three years Labour has put forward alternative budget proposals, all of which have been rejected by the Conservatives. For example we asked the council NOT to borrow £25million to renew Trafford Town Hall, at a cost of £1.4million every year for the next 25 years. “We also asked them NOT to hand £21million from the sale of council owned land to Tesco over to Lancashire Cricket Club, so that they could renew their ground. LCCC is a private members club. Labour has consistently argued that the Government Austerity Measures for Local Government has cut funding too deep and too quickly, resulting in the devastation of services and roads, not to mention the vulnerable people in society. Clearly many Councils leaders of all political persuasion up and down the Country are warning that these kinds of cuts will result in Trafford Council not being able to fulfill their statutory duty to children and older people, let alone the very basic services which most people expect. This cannot continue.”

“We asked the council NOT to borrow £25million to renew Trafford Town Hall - at a cost of £1.4million every year for the

The new budget comes on top of the £45Million cuts made since 2010, which has already wreaked havoc to our services and communities. This latest budget proposal will add more misery and heartache to the people of Trafford. The proposals will result in further devastating cuts to children’s services and services for older people and families, where they intend to cut £7.4 Million. This will mean, once again, massive cuts will be made to the most vulnerable people in our communities - elderly people who need care, children’s social care, people with learning disabilities. There will be a £2.4 Million cut in Highway maintenance, street cleaning, park maintenance, all which will result in a further deterioration of our environment and roads. Advice services are to be cut, the music service slashed, education welfare officers axed, home to school transport will be adversely affected, as well as huge cuts made within the Connexions service. Nearly a hundred more staff posts will go, this is on top of the hundreds that have already been axed over the past three years.

next twenty five years”


£260,000 £480,000 £250,000 £100,000 £224,000 £500,000

from Connexion Service

from Children’s Social Care from Parks Maintenance Fund

from Highways Management

from Youth Offending Service

by reducing home care

packages for the elderly




his letter was first published in Tribune Magazine and summarises the thought and feelings of many living in Trafford during these times of austerity.

“Trafford Council has now been under Tory control for 10 years. One of the party’s supposedly flagship councils, it is the blue chink in the otherwise Tory-free zone of Greater Manchester. The Tories have continued to cling onto power under the guise of sound financial management. They have always presented a balanced budget which they have ensured is underspent every year and have frozen council Tax in the process for the past four years. It is apparent, however, their claims to fiscal probity are at last beginning to unravel. There is a £7 million hole in Trafford Council’s budget for 2014-15, caused by financial mismanagement combined with a lack of challenge from a ruling group obsessed with claiming that savings can be delivered with no impact on service delivery. Austerity has just about brought Trafford to its knees. Cuts of more than £50 million up to 2013-14 have seen council services decimated, council employees made redundant and a Tory vision of only being in the business of delivering “minimum statutory” services becoming a reality. Volunteering in Trafford is no longer about enhancing a service; it is about replacing paid operatives who ran the service. Already, we know that plans for 2015-16 will see all Trafford’s youth centres close, SureStart centres cut to two (from 16 in 2012) and libraries shut their doors for the final time. All of this is on top of the additional savings required to ‘plug’ the £7 million black hole in the budget. The £7 million hole comes on top of already planned £17 million of cuts to services for 2014-15 and the brunt of the additional cuts now required, will fall on our most vulnerable. So how has this happened and who is taking the responsibility? The overspend went undetected in adult social care. A demand-led budget, it is apparent the financial management procedures in place were not adequate and not capable of alerting council officials to the seriousness of the situation. There were no clear lines of responsibility, utter reliance on the system in place for forecasting, lack of transparency and accountability, and a culture of passing the buck.


Kim K Photohraphy

ILLOR MIKE ES HIS VIEW ON T ‘BLACK HOLE’ Trafford Labour councillors have asked the ruling Tory Group for a line by line account of the overspend, highlighting statutory and non-statutory spending. Several weeks after asking, nothing has been received. Yet the Tories seek our support for the necessary budget changes but treat searching questions and scrutiny of their strategy with utter disdain. Their arrogance surpasses their intelligence levels. Where was the leader and deputy leader of the council in all of this? At the time problems first came to light, they held the finance and adult social care portfolios. The answer is that they appear to have been nowhere. Can we expect an apology, acceptance of responsibility, or a resignation? That would be out of the question in Tory Trafford where our Teflon Tories believe it is their birth right to be in control. It has taken some time to learn of the true extent of the financial problems facing Trafford. What we do know is that Trafford Tories knew of the problems in early April 2014. Did they declare the problem? Of course not. They delayed it until after the local elections in May. At the same time as the leader of the council was scurrying around trying to find out just what had happened to his now decimated budget, a local campaign focusing on their fiscal probity in running the council saw the Tories spend thousands on a wrap around the local paper setting out their proud financial record. This was arrogance personified. In corporate world, the leadership would have by now fallen on its proverbial sword. Instead in Trafford the Tories have rewarded their leader with a 30 per cent pay rise, compensation for additional responsibilities. Let’s just hope some of the pay rise is spent wisely on some basic arithmetic lessons.”


HILDREN and young people across Sale West could bear the brunt of ‘savage’ budget cuts as Trafford Council attempts to save £24million by next

year. Many services will be affected as town hall bosses scramble to make unprecedented savings of around 18 per cent of the council’s net budget in 2015/16. Coppice Library faces possible closure, school crossings are to be scrapped and Sale West Community and Youth Centre is also facing the possibility of shutting the doors for the final time. Around £17.8million will be saved from the children, families and wellbeing budget in Trafford – leaving many residents fearing for their local services. It has been suggested that £700,000 could be saved from a £2.3million pot for the borough’s 14 libraries, with options including reducing opening hours, shutting some and recruiting even more volunteers. Sale West community library on Coppice Avenue is one of many now facing an uncertain future. Within walking distance of 5 primary schools and a secondary school, Coppice Library is used by a cross section of residents, from old to young and from all walks of life. Friends of Coppice Library spokesperson, Marj Prowner said: “The people making the budget decisions do not understand the important role library services play in the local community, nor do they know about the diverse range of services offered there. “A good example of this is the Talking Book Service that distributes audiobooks on CD and cassette to visually impaired people throughout the borough. This is a postal service and is greatly appreciated by those people who would otherwise have no access to books. “Many of our customers are infirm or have disabilities that make a library visit difficult. They come to Coppice library because of the car park at the rear of the building and the 2 disabled spaces at the front. It would be impossible for them to use other local libraries should this one close, due to strict

parking policies around the centre.” School crossings are also being targeted, between 30 and 37 of the existing 97 crossings possibly being scrapped, saving £145,000. A review will take place to establish which sites are deemed ‘high risk’. Residents fear that several crossings on Sale West will be among those slashed, adding to the various other cuts the area is already facing. A local Mum of two who asked not to be named said: “It’s ridiculous – they want to shut the youth centre, take away the crossings and shut our library. Looks like Trafford Council don’t care about children; all they’re bothered about is saving money. It’s not fair that we have to have our services cut because they can’t manage the books properly.” Council leader, Sean Anstee, said: “ Our primary aim is to continue to provide high quality, efficient and effective services to those who need them most. We have a good track record of delivering savings and will continue to do so over the coming years as we re-shape the council to target its resources at the most vulnerable and grow our economy to reduce demand on public services.”



Colour images by Kim K Photography - Old Sale West images courtesy of Trafford Library Service


ack in 2004 the Manchester Evening News ran an article about a notorious estate in Sale, titled ‘No-go estate that defied the odds’, going on to say it had been described as ‘an island of deprivation in a sea of affluence.’ The estate they referred to is Sale West, or the ‘Racecourse Estate’ as it was known back then, with many of its roads named after UK racecourses. Built amid high optimism in the 1960’s, as part of Manchester regeneration, the Racecourse was constructed on agricultural land and used to move people out of areas surrounding the city centre in questionably named ‘slum clearance programmes.’ Supposed to be ‘a jewel in the crown’ of Manchester council’s estate programme, the Racecourse faced problems from the beginning and quickly became a hotbed of crime and antisocial behavior. A so-called overspill estate, owned by Manchester but situated in Cheshire, Sale West proved to be anything but the gem anticipated by the council. Residents found themselves feeling detached and cut off from services while violent crime was quickly on the rise. By the mid nineties, many of the properties were run down or empty and the area had become neglected. The only bus on the estate was cancelled as drivers refused to venture there any longer, sick of smashed windows and abuse from the local youths. When Irwell Valley took over Sale West in March 2000,

around 80 per cent of properties were considered long term ‘unlettable’ by Manchester City Council, over 70 per cent of residents were dependent on social benefits and vandalism, youth congregating and empty, abandoned properties were the top three priorities highlighted in a local area consultation. Manchester City Council had allowed the estate to fall to wreck and ruin, merely displacing the problems and never really solving them – at the expense of the residents they offered a ‘fresh start in a great place to live’. Things have certainly changed today. Sale West is definitely more than a ‘pleasant place to live’ , but how much of that is really down to Irwell Valley and their almost Orwellian strategies to build a better society? That is not to say that they haven’t assisted; the money spent on housing has gone some way to make them more habitable, although many are still plagued with damp and mould that Irwell Valley are slow to respond to, to say the least. Gardens are generally neat and tidy, the Gold Service embraced by 90 per cent of residents and antisocial behavior reports are at an all time low. This is despite the fact that Irwell Valley has slowly but surely reduced the ‘extra’ services they offered at the start of their take over. They opened the Phoenix Centre in Sale, providing training, help with interviews and access to educational funds – open only to those residents who had achieved Gold Service status with the association. This closed in 2005, not long after they withdrew the very successful estate

Rangers they had employed to help with both anti social behaviour and general maintenance of properties, gardens and communal areas. The ones really responsible for all these changes and more are the people who live on Sale West. The ones that have a sense of pride in their community and will go the extra mile to make sure it’s a great place to live, because for them, pleasant just isn’t enough. The future of Sale West is again in the balance, this time from the threat of budget cuts severing many of the amenities they still have. The library, community centre and youth club all face closure as Trafford council attempts to make massive savings, seemingly at the expense of those already under increasing pressure. Fortunately, Sale West is a community that gains its strength from the people who live there, becoming the desirable place to live Manchester city council first envisaged when it was built; not from schemes and incentives that are dangled carrot-like in order to get them to comply however, but rather from the determination of many to make a change and that’s something that no amount of budget cuts can ever take away.



ain hammering on the windscreen, traffic at standstill, kids bickering in the back and the Frozen soundtrack stuck on repeat again – what better time for my phone to ‘ping’ to let me know it’s time to be mindful. Just to clarify things a little, I am not a hippy, my children have never eaten organic quinoa and I am not at all eco friendly or spiritual – truth be known I’m rubbish at recycling and am cynical to a fault.

So, what about here in the UK?

Mindfulness classes are popping all everywhere and the NHS have even started to fund sessions for depression in some long-term sufferers, as an alternative to costly mediciremedies and interventions that appear to “finding peace nal be less than effective.

in a stressedMilitary personnel, professional sportspeople out, digitally and several prisons have already incorporated dependent cul- mindfulness in their regime so it may only be a Chances are that either you, or someone you matter of time before it makes its way into our ture may just be classrooms, rather like yoga did a few years know has recently started the practice known as mindfulness. With roots in Buddhism and an array a matter of ago. of handy downloadable apps to help you practice thinking differ- This can only be a good thing; the UK has at leisure, mindfulness is a form of meditation focusing on ‘being in the now’ that has, in the space seen a rise in the number of children being exently” of a year or so, gone from being ‘another faddy cluded from school due to behavioral and craze for the eccentric, modern day hippies’ to a new and extremely popular ‘pseudo-religion’ across the UK, one that could have been tailor made for the west, it sits so well with our secular ideals. Trying to find peace in a hectic, digitally dependent and often rushed world may just be a matter of thinking differently and, after a week of sessions, I’ve discovered that mindfulness may be the way forward. It’s all about being in the present moment – being aware of your breathing, body and surroundings as well as emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness involves viewing both yourself and others with compassion and kindness, in a totally nonjudgmental way. This is something that many of us struggle with, in a society where Kim Kardashian’s derriere makes the evening news and we are constantly bombarded with adverts and imagery telling us how to be thinner/taller/less wrinkled; being nonjudgmental of oneself is a refreshing, if not long overdue concept. Being mindful is a way to cultivate a ‘less emotionally reactive awareness’ to thoughts and feelings, the inner self-talk many of us struggle with – or, as in my case, the constant

“Parents and teachers tell children a hundred times a day to ‘pay attention’ – but are we expecting too much if we have never taught them the skills to be able to do this” chatter of a busy brain. Mastering mindfulness means learning to be aware of what’s happening without becoming overly preoccupied with any of it and the benefits have been well documented, backed up with scientific research following years of studies, mostly carried out in America. Over in California many schools have embraced the mindfulness technique, with some very impressive outcomes. Twice a week the children at an Oakland school have a mindfulness class – 15 minutes of calm each session, in what is otherwise a very busy schedule. The class begins with the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl as the children close their eyes and focus on their breathing, guided to try and imagine ‘loving kindness’ in the playground. The results speak for themselves as teachers have reported an improvement in the behavior of many pupils, with less violent outbursts and an overall calmness for those that were struggling with anger issues.

anger issues, anything that can address this at an early age and equip these children with the tools they need has to be a positive step, after all, prevention is always better than intervention, especially when it comes to kids behavior. Children that have received mindfulness training in America show greater compassion, more self-control and better behavior overall so if we can help our children to slow down and take time to think, they can often discover that they actually have the answers within themselves. Parents and teachers tell children a hundred times a day to ‘pay attention’ – but are we expecting too much if we have never taught them the skills to be able to do this and spend most of our time over stimulated with no time to catch our breath? Mindfulness education is like ‘talking yoga’, training for the brain and, while it shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix as it does take time to master, initial findings show that it can also help with other, more serious issues such as depression and selfharming behaviors like anorexia or bulimia. Even the celebs have been getting involved in the mindfulness pandemic sweeping the nation, there’s an ‘all-party mindfulness group’ in Parliament which Ruby Wax helped launch and Madeleine Bunting from the Guardian newspaper has recently suggested it should be mandatory in all schools.

If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our digital age, then mindfulness is the most logical response and one of the major strengths lies in its universality – the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you’re doing at any given moment. There is no need for equipment or fancy work out gear, you just need to assume a comfortable position and relax, think Buddha, feel calm – and don’t forget to breathe.

It may appear that mindfulness is a new thing but it was back in the 1980’s when the Dalai Lama first sparked a conAvailable to everyone regardless of gender, race, religious versation about science and Buddhism that lead to the crebeliefs, culture or financial situation, mindfulness was ation of The Mind and Soul Institute, dedicated to studying previously unheard of by the west until fairly recently alcontemplative science. In 2000 he launched a ‘new’ sub disthough its roots are firmly based on ancient Buddhist cipline of contemplative neuroscience called mindfulness, wisdom. Having said that, the practice is still as relevant inviting scientists to study the today as it was back then, maybe brain activity of expert Buddhist ‘Viewing yourself in a totally more so, as we attempt to balmeditators – defined as having non-judgemental way is some- ance the daily demands modern more than 10,000 hours of pracday life presents us with. tice. Now that is dedication. thing many of us struggle with,

in a society where Kim Kar- One man who has realized the These observations revealed that potential in disseminating mindconsistent mindfulness practice dashian’s derriere makes the fulness, and the ‘need’ for an app could actually cause physiological to facilitate it to the digital evening news.....” changes in the brain, even creatmasses is Andy Puddicombe, ining an increased volume of tissue ventor of the hugely successful Headspace. in some areas and rewiring some brain circuits, producing positive effects on mind, brain and body. Ok, so it may take The fortysomething former Buddhist monk from Bristol, rather a lot of practice to achieve this level of enlightenment who has a degree in circus arts, has, according to the but it all sounds very positive – seems that science is finally New York Times, ‘done for mindfulness and meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food’. This looks set to be an understatement as already, just 4 years after launching the digital health platform, he is worth around £25million with Headspace used by more than a million people in 150 countries.

“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It soley relies on what you think”. Buddha 7

confirming what the Buddhist monks have been trying to tell us for years.

The Headspace programme, dubbed ‘a gym for the brain’, offers guided meditation resources online which are also accessible through the downloadable app. The first ten days are free, after which users have the choice to either subscribe or continue with the free content, although to get the most from the app it needs to be followed daily, using the 365 sessions of audio content included in the subscription. Techniques utilized by Headspace combine elements of both calming and insight meditation, to bring about ‘greater calm, clarity and improved feelings of wellbeing and happiness’. Sounds good, right?




ekindtoyourmind is a community interest

company based in Manchester and holding classes in Sale West. Aiming to reach out and help people in the community who suffer with their emotional well being. Their mindfulness stress relief classes and workshops work with residential, public and commercial sectors, in both group and individual settings, and invite the attendees to look at their thoughts, feelings and emotional states from a different perspective. Set up by husband and wife team Thom and Julie, Bekindtoyourmind classes have been running on Sale West for over a year. Thom said, “I’ve been a resident of Sale West since I was 12 years old and as I grew up I identified with a lot of the issues that people who live on the estate struggle with. I am proud of where I live and when I discovered the revelation of mindfulness it was only natural for me to want to share the tools and concepts that have made such a positive impact to my own well being with the community.” The response from the community has been very impressive – the first session saw 19 people attend, the majority from Sale West. Thom has been encouraged with the growing numbers since, explaining it normally takes around three or four sessions for people to ‘get it’ before they feel empowered to take back control of their own lives and make clear, proactive choices.

Mindfulness is not about idealism or having the perfect life – it’s about embracing the life you have and living in the moment. Taking time out to think and reflect on a situation may even offer new ideas or ways of tackling issues that a busy brain wouldn’t have come up with. My own 8-year-old son summed up his thoughts on what mindfulness means to him with this awesome quote that I think we can all learn from: “ Mindfulness means not hitting the boy who annoys me every day in the mouth like I want to sometimes, it means thinking about why he is acting that way and then moving away from him to take time out and calm down. I don’t get in trouble when I do it that way.” I’m not suggesting for a minute that we are all fighting a constant urge to ‘smack a workmate’ but I know there are times when I personally would have acted/reacted in a different way to a situation if I had just taken a minute to think and reflect on the outcome. Back in the car with the rain still hammering and the kids now sulking I decide to take the advice being offered by the oracle known as Disney and as the song reaches its dramatic chorus I take a deep breath and Let It Go as I take a moment to be mindful…..

Thom is especially thankful to Marie Price and Dan Shelston of Trafford Wellbeing / Housing Trust, as well as Irwell Valley Housing Association for the support and encouragement they gave him, including funding from the latter, enabling him to undertake training in order to become a fully qualified mindfulness teacher. When asked for ‘top tips’ for getting the most out of mindfulness, Thom says mindfulness is about learning to ‘BE’ rather than ‘DO’. “Our society constantly promotes ‘doing’ - reaching goals, making lists, setting agendas, thinking of new ideas, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact if we look around we can see that it has produced things that make our life easier and enjoyable, but too much of this ‘driving’ part of our nature is the cause for much of the stress, anxiety, depression and other states that hinder our wellbeing. Now, if we can learn to ‘BE’, meaning to accept things as they are at this very moment and to pay attention to what we are doing right now, we begin to soothe our minds and give the thinking mind a rest. “Mindfulness is very easy to learn and once the concepts are grasped it becomes a valuable part of life that can help us to become more calm and content, as well as helping

us become more resilient towards states of mind that cause us suffering.” Bringing mindfulness to Sale West is obviously important for Thom, I asked him how he thought the possible closure of the community centre would affect the classes held there and while he said people could adapt if it was a temporary situation but it would be “a sad day for the people of Sale West” if it were to be permanent. Thom said, “ I believe the community centre has the potential to be the pulse of Sale West. With the right people, right ideas and right services it can literally change lives. The nucleus it already there, it just needs some fresh ideas. I was motivated to offer my services to the community and wouldn’t want to move away from Sale West but if I’m pushed, I’m pushed. I’d have to take my services elsewhere and that would contradict my initial drive for starting Bekindtoyourmind.” After attending a Bekindtoyourmind session at the community centre I agree it would be a terrible shame to lose such a fantastic service. Costing just £3 a session, on a pay-as-you-go basis the classes are exceptional value for money. I was made to feel welcome and have never seen the Sunshine Café looking so cosy with dimmed lights, incense, the lot – wonderful. The session began with a mindfulness chocolate eating exercise – we had to really take our time, noting the smell, texture and, last of all taste. Moving on to a mindful meditation I was soon relaxed and feeling calm for the first time that day, maybe a little too calm as I almost slid off my seat and was squinting when the lights came on at the end of the hour long session. I can’t recommend Bekindtoyourmind highly enough and would encourage everyone to give it a go – after all there’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Bekindtoyourmind currently run two weekly classes with plans for more in the future. Monday they are at Sale West Community centre on Newbury Avenue for an hour with the class starting at 7pm. On a Thursday they hold a class in Timperley, in the meeting room at Timperley Village Library, again for an hour and also starting at 7pm. They also offer mindfulness workshops at a discounted rate of £40, held at the Friends Meeting House, Park Road in Sale – for more details or to book please contact For more information visit or find them on Twitter @kindmindgb




fter hearing great reviews, and realizing it is only one junction up from us on the motorway, we recently decided to take our youngest 2 boys, aged 8 and 12, to visit Sea Life Manchester for a family day out.

Our visit coincided with the opening of a new attraction the aquarium have unveiled called Sea Stars and for me it really added value to the day. There are several eyecatching displays that all have massive windows and they are full of the most amazing starfish, including my personal favourite, the Giant Pink starfish.

Sea Life Manchester is a fascinating little aquarium that makes the very most of the relatively small space it occupies right behind the Trafford Centre in Barton Square.

The area also boasts an impressive pop up display where we could all climb through a sea tunnel right in the middle of one of the biggest displays for what turned out to be a tentacle-tastic-close-up view.

We chose a Sunday morning to visit, working on the theory that it wouldn’t be too busy – a theory that paid off as it was really quiet and we didn’t even have to queue to get in, always a bonus when you have kids with a very short attention span.

As with every display at Sea Life, there are plenty of facts alongside the display offering interesting facts – some you would probably rather not know but the kids will love, like the fact some starfish turn their stomachs inside out to eat.

In the foyer there is a map of the aquarium and a really impressive tank to whet the appetite before we were offered a family snapshot at the bargain price of £20. From there it was straight into ‘Turtle Beach’, an amazing experience offering insight into turtles – how they live, reproduce and other interesting facts. Packed with impressive CGI style graphics and delivered by a very enthusiastic young lady it was possibly the highlight of our visit. My boys were really impressed to learn that the temperature of the sand the eggs were laid in actually determines what sex the turtles will be when they hatch and my youngest is now hoping for a turtle egg for Christmas. Once the talk was over we were free to wander around the aquarium at our own pace, which, left to our boys would be incredibly quick as there wasn’t really much to keep older children as interested as we had hoped, apparently if you’ve seen one fish, you’ve seen them all – well, according to my youngest anyway.

Last but by no means least we entered the underwater ocean tunnel, culminating in a beautiful Mayan-esque rock sculpture. We had to wait to get a photo at this spot, there seemed to be a pile-up of people with smartphones snapping away furiously, but it was worth it as it really is rather beautiful. We exited the tunnel right into the gift shop, much to the kid’s delight – not a word I would use to describe how I felt once I had seen the prices. Sea Life Manchester also offers a SeaTREK experience, boasting to be Europe’s first seabed walk and costing £60 per person. Divers are surrounded by hundreds of fish, sharks, rays and even Ernie, resident Giant Green Sea Turtle. Tempting as it sounds we declined on this occasion, we were all fished out and just couldn’t plaice, sorry, face, another hour of fishy fun, however up close and personal, instead we headed home after our fun family time.

Courtesy of SeaLife

About two thirds of the way round we discovered a small soft play area, of course the boys jumped straight in, abandoning shoes and having a great time. This lasted 5 minutes before they tired of running around what is really a play area suited to much younger children although, judging by the various ages of the kids playing and the fact there were no staff to be seen, there is no age restriction in place. From the ball pit we moved onto the Touch Pool where the boys stroked crabs and touched several less than impressed looking shrimps – not my cup of tea but they loved it.

My overall view is Sea Life Manchester is a good place to pass an hour with young children but is overpriced and a little dull at times for the older ones. As a family of four we paid just under £50 admission for what was a very quick visit – even by our standards. Plenty of pretty fish to look at but none of the creepy crawlies and snakes that the other, bigger Sea Life Centre venues offer and disappointing to see that the much smaller aquarium size is not reflected in the rather oversized prices. Ideal for fish enthusiasts maybe - not so good for a family looking for a cheap, fun day out.



here’s countless ways to warm your cockles in Manchester on a cold Saturday night, my favourite would be a toss up between a spicy curry from Rusholme, or standing directly under the sub-woofer at the Academy while it pumps out a little drum and base. Who better to push said woofers to the limits than dubstep princess Kathleen Brien, better known as Katy B? Relatively new on the scene, Becky Hill played as the support act - and what an act she gave, kicking off the night with some great new material from her upcoming debut album as well as the smash hit of the summer ‘Gecko’ with Overdrive.

Pitch perfect vocals, sassy swagger and unfaltering cheekiness first seen during her stint on The Voice UK, Hill had the crowd jumping along to her impressive solo set. And then came the headliner, the opening riff of ‘Hot Like Fire’ burst through the amps, sending the crowd soaring to their feet. A medley of recent hits and ‘5am’ made the atmosphere explode, setting the bar incredibly high for the rest of the evening The crowd were enthralled as she belted out club classic ‘Easy Please Me’, showcasing her vocal talents further before bringing it down for the ever popular ‘Crying For No Reason’ followed by a heart-rending and emotive performance of ‘Everything’, which she dedicated to her older brother Andrew, who sadly passed away in September following a tragic accident. The pace soon picked up again and by the time the backbeats of ‘Aaliyah’ were rolling, the Academy was in full swing once again. A kaleidoscope of Lasers and strobe effects gave a real nightclub feel whilst the crowd danced along to ‘Easy Please Me’, showing their obvious delight as she mixed it with Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo-Wop (that thing)’. Katy was supported throughout the gig by a group of 4 backing dancers who, to be fair, deserve a mention of their own. Beautiful and perfectly in step with the star, they helped take the show up to another level, giving an almost arena like feel to what was really quite a small venue. Along with the stunning lights and laser action it was a feast for the senses that had the crowd mesmerized from the outset. The stand-out track of the night, and possibly Katy’s best track to date, was ‘Still”- taken from her latest album she belted it out in fabulous style, managing to sound fantastic while busting some moves that Britney could only dream of. Amazing.

Image by Taaliah Nazar


There is definitely something endearing, almost wholesome about Katy, a bit like a Blue Peter presenter crossed with a modern day Judy Garland, with her infectious smile and bouncing auburn curls – although I doubt Ms. Garland ever had backing dancers and breaking beats like this songstress.

Growing up in Peckham, Katy attended the BRIT school and has been singing since the age of thirteen, her first audiences being classmates that were wowed by her musical abilities and talent back then. Emerging from the underground, growing in confidence and talent, Katy exploded onto the dubstep scene; and could often be found increasing her fan base on the nightclub circuit in London as she worked on several collaborations, guesting on numerous well-known tracks. ‘Tell Me’ is perhaps one of her best known hits from this time – DJ NG’s song with Katy’s unique vocal twist makes it still as much of a floor filler today as it was back then. Inevitably, as all good things must, the show began to wind down as Katy finished her set with the song that saw her rise to fame, ‘On A Mission’, much to the delight of the now sweaty looking crowd. Thanking everyone for coming, Katy was met with yet more cheers before she briefly left the stage, returning for a 3-song encore starting with ‘Emotions’ before moving onto ‘Perfect Stranger’ and ending on the absolute classic ‘Lights On’. There was not one person in the venue standing still by this point and everyone was singing along and throwing their best moves on fellow Katy B fans as the show came to a close. It was a pleasure to see two young ladies doing what they love, and doing it incredibly well. The performance from both was brilliant; full of energy and incredibly uplifting, taking over the charts and the ears of the British public one track at a time, both have increasingly bright futures. Expect to see much more of Katy B in the future, judging by her performance at the Academy she is a force to be reckoned with, and despite the timely gap between her first two albums – Katy B’s mission has only just begun. Leading into her third album, she has the lungs to put the wind up chart heavyweights Rihanna, Beyonce and Jessie J.



es, it's that time of year again...comes around quickly, doesn't it?! But if you're in a state of denial about your credit card bills, or still paying off the summer holiday or catalogue bills, then the thought of spending out on all the Christmas expense can send you into a cold sweat - and you really don't want to get a bad credit rating just because of Christmas. But there is still time to get your finances in some kind of order before the seasonal festivities kick in. We've put together four top tips that help us get through the Christmas season without going into the red or finding yourself with a bad credit history. Plus - we have a great list of money saving websites for you.

Be a savvy Internet shopper Are you familiar with voucher code websites which tell you about all the discounts available at various online retailers? They allow you to access a shopping code you enter at the checkout to get a discount - this might be money off (eg. spend £50 get £5 off) or free delivery. Take a look at the discount codes on as well as for details of the hottest deals around on a variety of items. Make sure you're getting the best deal available on your shopping using price comparison sites, such as Kelkoo and Pricerunner. They work by simply comparing the price of your chosen product on a huge variety of online retailers so you can be sure you're paying the cheapest price for an item. This is

a particularly useful tool for more expensive purchases, such as electronic gadgets, where a few pounds can make quite a difference. For food shopping be sure to check out - this also works like a price comparison site, whereby you can load up your online shopping trolley but before you buy you can see a comparison of how much the same items would cost in other online supermarkets - the difference can be quite staggering! Quidco is another great way to boost your finances when you shop online - look on the site before you buy your chosen item, and if it's listed you can buy through the site and then get cashback on your purchases. You can gain substantial cashback rewards, particularly if you use the site for expensive purchases, such as holidays or electronic items.

Make what you can Christmas cards can really bump up the seasonal expenditure, and while there are cheaper versions around, a nice home-made card which the kids have put their creative efforts into is a lovely alternative. Crafty, home-made decorations are really fashionable - the over-dressed Christmas look is sooo over - so get the children involved in some Christmas interior design, too. Look out for magazines and catalogues in the run-up to Christmas with features on Christmas decor for inspiration. Cheap but effective touches include dotting pine cones sprayed with artificial snow around the room, or making snow-flake paper-chains. Salt dough decorations are also really effective or decorate cheap plain baubles with glitter for a personal touch. You'll also find ideas for table settings and recipes for delicious edible presents, such as home-made biscuits and preserves. Make hampers up for friends and family, filled with their

favourite foods, such as yummy homemade fudge, shortbread or gingerbread men. Grandparents will love personalised presents from the kids. Why not pick up some cheap canvases from the local craft shop and do handprint or footprint pictures, or other artistic ideas?

Take five minutes out to check your entitlements Take a five-minute entitlement check-up. You could find you've been missing out on benefits and tax credits that are rightfully yours. While you won't necessarily get your payments in time for Christmas you'll feel good knowing you'll soon be benefiting from some legitimate extra funds in the New Year!

Don't go overboard It's very easy to go overboard but excess for excess' sake will only make you feel miserable when the bills come rolling in in January. Try to allot an amount of money you will spend on the kids and don't be hooked into the notion that children 'need' the latest high-tech gadget or toy, and that if you don't buy it you'll be a bad parent. In the run-up to Christmas ask the children to make a Christmas list, including one really special item that they really, really want - tell them to think about their choice carefully as that will be their main present. Obviously, if their choice is completely unrealistic you'll have to explain why you can't buy that particular item but most children will like the responsibility of making a list and looking forward to receiving that much-anticipated gift on Christmas day.

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ooking healthily on a budget doesn't have to be hard work or boring and can be quite satisfying when you know you're not wasting your money. Here’s some tips to get you started. 1. Try not to go food shopping when you're hungry or thirsty - you'll be amazed at the things you'll avoid buying. 2. Do a weekly shop to avoid ad-hoc trips to your local shop (which can be expensive and full of temptation to buy impulsively).

don't have time to go shopping. 10. Eat breakfast - it'll get you going and make you less likely to spend a fortune on (unhealthy) snacks throughout the day! 11. Try swapping full-fat milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. 12. Try swapping butter for a low fat vegetable spread.

3. If you do need to stock up on fresh produce in between your big shops, the local fruit and veg shop is perfect!

13. Be careful not to add too much salt to your food whilst cooking or at the table.

4. Try making a meal plan for a week, so you know what ingredients you need to buy. Planning ahead like this can really help you save money and reduce the amount of food you waste.

14. Keep a weekly record of how much you spend to get a realistic idea of how much money you need to budget for food shopping. Once you've established a budget, stick to it!

5. Even if you don't want to write a whole meal plan, write a shopping list and try to stick to it.

15. Buy and freeze your favourite veg when it's in season, so you don't spend a fortune on it when it goes out of season.

6. Try visiting your local butcher - they often have special offers and you might be inspired to try something different. 7. Master a few recipes and write down your favourites - you don't want to forget the fab chilli you made last week. (This will help you write your meal plan too.) 8. Why not double the recipe and freeze meals to eat later in the week or month - this works really well for chilli, bolognese, soup, or freezing meats in their marinades. 9. Have a stock of easy to prepare meals such as pasta, soup, beans and tinned fish, so you are prepared for the times you

Here’s one of our personal family favourites, Mince and sweet potato pie. It’s easy to make (trust me, I’m no Nigella), good value for money, and above all - filling and nutritious. based on a shepherds pie type recipe, but with some additions and changes - we call it the ‘morepie’ because everyone always wants more and there’s always a clean bowl at the end.

500g mince - beef or lamb (beef is the cheaper option) 2 teaspoons of olive oil 1 Large onion - peeled and chopped 2 Large carrots - washed and chopped 1 Cup of frozen peas 1 Tin of baked beans 2 Large sweet potatoes (more nutritious than white potato) 1 Stock cube (optional) Handful of grated cheese to top (optional) Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/Gas 5. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into chunks. Heat a large pan of water, and add the potato chunks when boiling. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onions and chopped carrots and gently fry for 3-4 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the mince and fry off, ensuring it's browned all over. Cook on a medium heat for about 10 12 minutes. Crumble in the stock cube and stir thoroughly. Add the peas and tin of beans and continue to cook for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the sweet potatoes and see if they are tender. Drain (but keep a small amount of water to help you mash if needed) and mash. Empty the mince into a large ovenproof dish and spread the sweet potato mash on top. Sprinkle cheese over the top if desired, and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes



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