Last Friday was a very busy and exciting day. I was supposed to be meeting Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council as he was to join me and the Prestwich leg of the Bike Friday ride, however I receieved a text message the night before to say that a meeting would prevent him from riding. His ward is Crumpsall and I hope he’ll be able to find a chance in the future to ride with us from the north side. One of our Prestwich Bike Friday regulars, Pete, was disappointed not to ride with him as he works in the city’s engineering department and had put in for voluntary redundancy. Pete thinks that the voluntary scheme is going to be over-subscribed (sounds familiar) but is hopeful he’ll be one of the successful candidates.
As I arrived at our regular rendezvous, Richard from Hollins had his road bike upside down and was replacing an innertube. On setting off we just made it across the Scholes lane junction before stopping again to readjust the tube and then we pressed on towards the city centre. As we passed through Sedgeley Park I spotted another regular, Colin, on his Brompton going in the opposite direction. He lives in Broughton but after waiting longer than usual for us to pass him by, he decided to ride out to us to find out what the problem was. So this month we were 4 riders, which was okay I suppose. There were more riders than usual in the city centre; the Worsley ride was strong and there was an extra team from Wythenshawe Hospital as this month’s message was health and heart based. The city centre riders (most of which seem not to have proper jobs to go to) were then riding out to Wythenshawe hospital for a second photoshoot.
I had been looking forward to meeting Gaz the 39 stone cyclist as I’ve been following his blog and he has a fantastic weigh loss story taking him from 39 to 17 stone in less than 3 years. He wasn’t to be seen, maybe he was going straight to the hospital. After the photocall in the city centre I blasted the 5 minutes out to Chapel Street to the venue for our first Sage Manchester volunteering project in 3 years.
A small (but perfectly formed) team of 8 of us from Sage were helping build some raised beds for the residents of Canon Hussey Court. We were lead by Emma and Roger from Social Adventure’s Garden Needs project. Emma has been busy planting fruit trees and bushes as well as creating raised vegetable beds as part of a Community Larder project to bring fresh local produce to the heart of inner city Salford. Soon after 9am Emma passed over a sketch of the proposed raised beds to me as if I was supposed to be in charge and although we followed those plans in spirit, the dimensions were somewhat ignored.
Emma had sourced some former scaffolding planks that were to go out to stud after a hard life and through the day 2 truck loads of compost arrived for us to move into place. Roger had a chainsaw with him and under direction trimmed the planks accordingly, soon the first bed was taking shape.
I was delighted how everyone got stuck in. All were keen volunteers for sure, but I was suprised how we complimented each other without any ‘organising’ necessary and all found our natural part to play in the construction process. This reflects my experience of life at Sage Manchester and something we tend to overlook. Everyone mucks in and helps one another with the task in hand with little time for politics or back-biting or even formality of defined process.
I charged around like a mad thing all day long. I was conscious of the fact that I had to record progress and also check everyone was both happy and safe (not doing the same repetative task for too long) but with there only being 8 of us rather than the 12 I had appealed for, there wasn’t the time I had hoped for to also explain what Social Adventures and the Angel Centre were doing.
It was a long morning and I’d promised the team that lunch was provided. As noon approached the specifics of food were dominating all our minds. When our MD Jayne and Customer Operations Director Gary finally arived at 13:18 (I wasn’t clockwatching honest) 4 of us staggered across the road to meet them (and their food) as they climbed out of Gary’s car. It was like a scene from a zombie movie.
Over lunch Emma told Jayne and all of us assembled about the Garden Needs mental health project that I hope we can support next year, as well as information about the Creative Media Centre and all the good stuff happening around the Angel Centre and through the Social Adventures Social Enterprise. This video highlights some of the brilliant work they have been doing, it’s really powerful stuff and you’ll understand why I am delighted to have brought them and us at Sage together.
We cracked on through the afternoon and by 4:30 we’d finished what we’d set out to do. Various Facebook updates reported aches and pains to me the following day, and poor Charlie was still aching today. Let’s hope the response for the next group project is better, as many hands make lighter work.