#SongsforSmiles at Newbury House

Colette Cronshaw, Riverside Project Assistant, shows how positive activities at our supported housing services such as Newbury House in Manchester are helping customers stay safe and well during the pandemic and help prevent social isolation during the lockdown.

I received an invite to join the GMHAN Donation Distribution Panel (catchy eh!). It would enable me to support customers while shielding at home. I wanted to do something practical, and the panel was exactly that. Our aim is to distribute much needed supplies to the homeless community across GM.

A couple of weeks ago, Manchester Homeless Partnership (MHP), sent out a message about an offer they had received. This wasn’t the usual but much appreciated hand wash or toilet paper, it was way better than that in terms of keeping people at Newbury House entertained. Would anyone be interested in hosting a live pop up performance at their scheme? My hand went up straight away!

I was initially linked in with Nelson at City Co, who got the show on the road. As you can see from the photos, Newbury House has an amazing garden, perfect for the #SongsforSmiles guy’s to use as a stage. So on Tuesday, Sam Parry plugged in and got down to the business of entertaining. He sang classics like “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. He even took requests. Exactly what both residents and staff need to take a break from the monotony of lockdown. What better way to do that, than with creativity.

Ross, a colleague at the scheme rang me during the first set. I was able to listen as Sam sang Paul Weller’s “A Town Called Malice”. He was good, very good! While customers and staff watched from the windows, and the neighbourhood filled with music: everyone let their hair down. I think anyone would feel special having a gig put on in their front garden, with the soul aim of entertaining you. For someone who is socially excluded and surviving multiple disadvantages, then the feeling is ramped up immeasurably.

This initiative only required a few emails and a lot of goodwill to bring to fruition. Manchester, our city, has always championed the underdog. We also take pride in “doing things differently here”. Let us keep collaborating to make Manchester a better city, for everyone!

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