The Dispensaries a talk by author Dr Michael Whitfield in Manchester

Dr Michael Whitfield author of The Dispensaries gave a talk at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester on 18th April 2017; Dr Michael talked about his book and the role of the dispensaries played in the provision of healthcare for the poor in the nineteenth century.
The event was organised by the Victorian Society and the Ancoats Dispensary Trust.



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National anti fracking demo at Preston New Road

A National demonstration took place on Saturday 25th February 2017; around 2000 protesters travelled from various parts of the UK for a day of anti-fracking action in solidarity with Frack Free Lancashire, a rally was held at Maple farm together with a march to energy firm Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site.



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The Bedroom Tax

The so called Bedroom Tax came into force in April 2013; officially known as the Spare Room Subsidy; it was instigated by the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith as part of the Welfare Reform Act.
This brutal policy was deemed by many as a tax on the poor and disabled; it was derived as a move to free up the waiting list for social housing and encourage people to downsize, typically, council or housing association tenants would see their benefits cut by 14% and if they have two or more spare rooms, the cut will be 25%.

Bedroom tax demo Piccadilly gardens, Manchester. 16/03/2013

Anti Bedroom tax demo Manchester. 16/03/2013

In reality this draconian policy was badly timed, the great world recession of 2008 was at its peak, there were two and a half million people unemployed and Britain’s building industry was at a standstill in 2013; in some areas there was a shortage of one bedroom accommodation, leaving many vulnerable and disabled people to move away from the support of their families and friends to find suitable property.

Furthermore, the UK government spent £1.5 trillion of tax payer’s money bailing out RBS, Lloyd TSB and HSBC during the recession, whilst a majority of the bedroom tax victims including single parent families are struggling to make ends meet, and in some cases bedroom tax victims had to resort to Credit Unions and Payday loans as some tenants can lose up to £30 a week in benefit.



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The Barton Moss Anti Fracking Camp

A short film I was involved in whilst on a film making course at the Mustard tree in Ancoats, Manchester.
The group project documents the everyday toils of the Barton moss anti fracking camp, many of the protesters suffered acute medical problems due to living in a cold damp campsite next to Barton aerodrome.
This film was screened at The Round Chapel, Hackney, London, as part the Homeless Film Festival in November 2014.

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Monuments, Graves, Epitaphs and Cemeteries part one

In the Manchester area there are many monuments, epitaphs and statues dedicated to the region’s most notorious and historically famous people of which many can be found in public parks and cemeteries. I had the pleasure of accompanying writer and poet Mike Duff on a tour of north Manchester’s Victorian cemeteries; Mike Duff who is also a local historian, has a strange fascination with graves and cemeteries.

Our tour started in Failsworth the birthplace of Ben Brieley 1825-1896; the Lancashire dialect writer and poet started his working life as a weaver and through self educating himself in his spare time, he contributed to local papers. In April 1869 he began the publication of Ben Brierley’s Journal’s which help to popularise his work; In 1875 Brierley was elected as a member of Manchester City council. Some of Brierley’s his best known works are A Summers Day in Daisy Nook and The Tales and Sketches of Lancashire Life.  He died on 18 January 1896 as a poor man after losing his life savings due to a building society failure; he was buried along with his daughter Annie in Queens Park Cemetery (formally known as Manchester General Cemetery)


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