The Friends of Stretford Public Hall (FOSPH) have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2020!
This award is generally considered as the MBE for volunteer groups; it is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK, to recognise the outstanding work they have done in their own communities.
Kate McGeevor, the Hall’s manager, said:
"We are delighted to be receiving this award, particularly in light of the work the Hall’s volunteers have been doing over the past three months. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, our volunteer team have been busy delivering food, prescriptions and other support to those in need. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is a fitting and timely tribute to the hard work and commitment of all of the volunteers who make Stretford Public Hall what it is".
FOSPH were granted the Queen’s Award for several additional reasons, starting with our popular achievement of saving and restoring a landmark historic building in the heart of the town centre – Stretford Public Hall. Our subsequent work creating spaces for the community and working with other community groups was also recognised, as well as the support we have received from local people alongside our endeavours to involve the local community in our development. Over 800 local people and organisations bought shares in Stretford Public Hall, providing over £150k funding for the group’s renovation of the Hall.
Working with the local community and other community groups ,our dedicated volunteer workforce was essential to the win! So we would like to take this opportunity that say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the Hall including all our volunteers past and present - our ‘Friends’.
Joanna Jones, the Hall’s Events Manager who also co-ordinates volunteers said:
"Our volunteers have donated thousands of hours towards the project over the last 4 and a half years. They have adapted their skills, made friendships and supported our local community. For this, I say the award is very well deserved .We truly cannot thank them enough."
At the Hall, we’re lucky to have a brilliant team of volunteers who help with all aspects of the Hall’s activities. At the time of this awards assessment we had approximately 50 volunteers who were all contributing to running of Stretford Public Hall, representing a diverse mix of Stretford resident of different ages. This includes the Hall’s Board of Directors, who are all volunteers, as well as regular volunteers who oversee all events and community activities.
If you would like to become a volunteer at the Hall please follow this link to the enquiry form on this website, by clicking here.
Stretford Public Hall is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. Other local recipients of the Queens Award include The Bread and Butter Group and Reach out to the Community
Many of you will wondering if and when our regular activities and events will be starting up again at the Hall. Like you, we’re keen to see a return to normality as soon as possible, but we’re also mindful of the continuing risks posed by Coronavirus. Our priority is to ensure the Hall is safe and risk-free for visitors and users, and we’re reviewing government guidance on a regular basis to inform our re-opening.
As things stand, we will be remaining closed for most activities throughout August but we will regularly update you about any developments on this website and our various social media channels. So, if you don’t already follow us on Facebook or Twitter, please sign up! We are in discussions with many of our tutors and regular room users and hope that some activities will be able to restart in early September.
Throughout lockdown, we have held numerous online events and activities including our regular health and wellbeing classes, our choir Stretford Singers, live music from Back to the Civic and our monthly life drawing classes. These will be continuing for the foreseeable future. Please see our What's On page or Activities - online activities on this website or check our social media channels.
At the Hall itself, we’ve been busy putting measures in place to ensure staff and tenants can use the building safely, and we have started to take a small number of room bookings for activities that can be held within current guidelines. If you’re interesting in booking a room, please make your initial enquiry on this website via the bookings form, here.
Since March, the Hall’s volunteers and staff have been working with Trafford Council and many others to supply emergency support for Stretford’s local community. Volunteer tasks have included answering our Hub helpline during the week, delivering food parcels and prescriptions as well as providing a personal shopping service for those with particular medical or dietary requirements. Our voluntary wellbeing team have also been calling isolated people on a weekly basis to see how they're doing and for a little chat. To this date, over 1,100 hours of volunteer time has been donated towards the community response in Stretford alone!
During lockdown The Friends of Stretford Public Hall have delivered The Civic newsletter to thousands of local residents. This newsletter has been produced by Stretford Public Hall as part of our efforts to help people stay connected and informed during lockdown.
The Civic aims to bring together local good news stories and relevant information for those in need of support and living in Stretford. We hear it has already made an important difference. For example, Sam read issue one and as a result she said,
‘I was considering reaching out for help when The Civic arrived through the post. It was the push I needed to make contact and get some support’.
A hard working team of about 35 volunteers has already delivered just under 5,000 issues to front doors across Stretford and they will be out delivering the second issue to your home very soon!
Please click here to download Issue #2 of The Civic
We would like to thank everyone who has made The Civic possible, particularly Trafford Council and Forever Manchester for funding to help with costs.
Friends of Stretford Public Hall are inviting local residents to design flags to fly from the poles in front of our historic building, as part of our exciting new 'Flag Competition'.
The six winning designs will be professionally printed and flown for thousands of people to see!
Everyone is welcome to submit a design no matter what your age, if you're an artist or if you have never picked up a paint brush, we want to see your ideas.
The competition will be judged by Kate Green, local MP for Stretford and Urmston, Dan Williamson, the Chair of Stretford Public Hall and local artist, Vanessa Scott. Vanessa says,
'I am thrilled to be one of the judges for this exciting competition.
The brief allows for lots of creativity and self-expression, so I am looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with'.
For full details of the competition guidelines and how to submit your entry please see our poster here.
Please note that this competition's closing date is the 28 August at 5.00 pm
The last few months have seen changes in how most people work. Whilst we've managed to keep our online mailing list up to date with what we have been up to with our Covid-19 response, we quickly realised that a lot of people do not have access to smart devices or the internet. Our team has been working hard to rectify that problem and get news to as many people in Stretford as possible in the form of a new occasional printed newsletter entitled 'The Civic', which has been funded by Trafford Council.
The aim of 'The Civic' is to bring good news and useful information to the Streets of Stretford. You may have had one through your door, but if not you can read it by clicking here
We're looking for more good news stories for our next edition- if you have a story you would like featured, please contact Jess at Jessica@Stretfordpublichall.org.uk
A personal message from Dan Williamson, Chair of FoSPH
I sincerely hope you are all keeping well and safe in these most unusual and difficult of circumstances. The global impact COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and the economic and social impact on our lives are felt by us all and of course at Stretford Public Hall too. Our primary concern is the health of our staff, members, board, volunteers, friends, and indeed the whole of our local community in Stretford, Trafford and beyond.
Please ensure you follow government guidelines during this period of lockdown; Stay at Home, only go outside for food, health reasons or work (if you can not work from home). If you go out, stay 2m from other people and wash your hands as soon as you are home. Do not meet friends or family. Remember you can spread the virus even if you don't have symptoms. Save Lives, Protect our NHS.
The situation has been changing extremely fast and we have had to adapt our operations and outlook to keep in line with national guidance and local needs. It has always been our intention that our operations are able to adapt to the needs of the local community. It is part of our mission to provide ‘activities that meet Stretford’s needs’ and ‘improve the lives of residents’. When these were written and agreed we never envisioned we would be implementing them in quite the way we are now, but this crisis now cemements them as fundamental cornerstones of why we exist.
According to the United Nations, there are four key qualities that we should reach for in times of crisis: kindness, generosity, empathy, and solidarity. So keeping that in mind, I would like to update you on the measures we are putting in place in this crisis.
What FoSPH are doing
- Stretford Community Response Hub We are proud to be working collaboratively with our partners across Trafford to serve as one of five community response hubs. These hubs are resourced with expertise including our staff and volunteers to offer frontline services to those who are self-isolating or who are at risk. Over the past week, we have set up a new online call handling system and have trained a team of volunteers to staff our community response phone line.
The Hall is being used as a preparation space for food parcels to be packaged up and distributed to those that are vulnerable or self isolating, as well as serving as a distribution point for FoodBank parcels. We are also operating a ‘wellbeing check-in’ service, offering regular phone calls to those needing assistance or a friendly chat from time to time, and helping to collect and deliver prescriptions to those in need.
If you live alone, are struggling to make ends meet, are self-isolating or generally in need of advice or support please contact 0300 330 9073 (8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday).
- Stretford Mutual Aid Network We have started to map all the very local and informal community aid groups in Stretford. It is amazing to see how many kind and compassionate people there are in the community and how everyone is pulling together to support their neighbors in their time of need. People have been leafleting their streets to provide a contact people can turn to for help. We have collated all these onto a map so that people can see who to contact for local support and friendship in their area at this time and friends and relatives of those that need support can find someone local to help. It has been amazing to see the map grow over the last two weeks. To join the network on social media please use this Facebook link or you can go straight to the website and map here:
- Business continuity / financial position. The Hall is now of course closed to the public, usual activities and bookings canceled for the next few months. Where possible staff are working from home. The loss of income from our events, activities, hires, co-working space and artists studios is of course having a monumental impact on our finances and we are monitoring this carefully including re-forcasting our budgets to fully understand the situation and plan accordingly. We are fortunate to be in a good financial position and are able to continue to pay staff as we have adequate reserves. We are looking at the Government measures and support available to businesses and other sources of funding and support. We’ve been speaking to our existing funders, lenders and suppliers to ask for flexibility in the current situation. We are a Charitable Community Benefit Society and are always open to new members, donations and regular giving. We recognise it is a challenging and uncertain time for everyone financially, but if you are able and willing to donate, this can be done through our website here. https://www.stretfordpublichall.org.uk/donate
Any support is greatly appreciated.
- Staff team, ways of working - We are incredibly fortunate during this time to have such a dedicated, hardworking and loyal staff team and we appreciate the commitment that they are all giving to ensure work gets done. Our amazing staff team have been working long hours and have adjusted to more flexible and remote working. I found it truly inspirational that at moments notice our staff team have agreed to largely change their job descriptions to respond to the help required in the community and become key workers. We wanted to publicly thank you all - we are lucky to work with such a great group of people so passionate about our organisation and community. I would also like to thank our board members for being so proactive, amenable and adaptable to our response on top of their work commitments. We have now increased our board meetings from monthly to weekly to keep on top of this fast moving situation. Our fantastic team of volunteers, without whom this would project would not be possible, have also stepped up to help with our response. Massive thanks to you.
- Ballroom refurbishment / renovation. At the present time we are still planning to proceed with our planned renovations to the Ballroom over the coming months – we have ‘restricted’ funding allocated to this but we will need to monitor this carefully as it is fully dependent on achieving planning permission, being able to secure contractors and the ability for contractors to work on site safely. We would like to thank our architects Buttress for their advice, support and guidance navigating the implications for this project. We will do everything we can to try to keep to the schedule set out, but we also have contingency plans in place if the situation changes and factors out of our control mean that our timeline is no longer viable. We are extremely grateful to our funders, Power to Change, Architectural Heritage Fund, Viridor and the Co-op Foundation for being so flexible with their offers to us to support the continuation of this project and our work.
- Future opportunities, new ways of working – the cost of the hall closing can’t just be measured in financial terms and we appreciate the human and social impact as this is a place for social gathering and fun, wellbeing and creativity. We have moved some of our Wellbeing classes online so please check our Facebook and Youtube accounts to connect with these so you can keep working out at home. Our fantastic community choir Stretford Singers is now being delivered on Facebook Live. Please join the group here to request to take part. It is hard to predict how things will be on the other side of this crisis, but we will monitor the situation as it unfolds and continue to respond accordingly. However, we will use this time to plan and develop ideas for how our beautiful building can continue to contribute to supporting our community through the recovery period and into the future.
We recognise things are going to get more difficult before they improve, but I am humbled by the response from everyone involved in FoSPH pulling together to respond with such proactive positivity to this situation, let’s make sure we continue this incredible effort.
For now though, please stay home, stay safe and look after those around you.
Dan Willamson and all at Stretford Public Hall.
Chair, Friends of Stretford Public Hall
The Trafford Community Response to COVID 19 (Coronavirus) will help people in need in Stretford and in its surrounding areas.
As a result of COVID 19 do you need help with anything such as;
- Getting food
- Getting fuel (if you're on a pre-paid meter)
- Getting essential medication
- Looking after your pets
- Someone to talk to
Get help by calling 0300 330 9073
If you live alone, are struggling to make ends meet, are self-isolating or generally in need of advice or support, please contact:
0300 330 9073
(8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday).
The advice line is for Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Trafford. Please Select option 4 for Trafford, then ignore the options for 'good and services' or 'pensions' - just hold the line and we will signpost you to one of the Trafford Community Response Hubs to access the support you need.
If you are able to volunteer in your community, or are a local business who can support with anything from supplies to logistics - please visit the Thrive Trafford Website: www.thrivetrafford.org.uk/covid-volunteer
(If you are part of a community group who are already offering support to your community – Trafford’s Community Response could help with supplies, training, environmental health and safeguarding support. Please email: email@example.com).
Also, if you are a local neighbourhood group who has established themselves to help those in need, as a result of Coronavirus, please see Stretford Mutual Aid on Facebook.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus situation and following new government advice asking people to avoid unnecessary social contact, we have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel activities at the Hall from today (17/03/2020), until further notice.
We are really sorry to have to do this as we know how important social activities and good health are at times like this. We're hoping to film many of our classes and we're looking at ways of making our classes available online over the coming weeks, so you can keep fit at home.
We're also considering ways that the Hall can provide support over the next few months, including supporting those who are self-isolating or who've been advised to stay at home. We'll be posting more about this in the coming days.
Although the government are advising social isolation, it's physical not social distance that is needed; social connections are more important than ever at times like this.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates & stay safe Stretford.
As of Friday 13th March, all our upcoming activities and events are still scheduled to go ahead. In light of the covid-19 virus, we are monitoring and re-assessing our planned activities on a day-to-day basis in line with government and NHS advice. We will keep you posted if there are any changes, but in the meantime, please do not attend any event or activity if you have any of the symptoms associated with the virus (coughing /high temperature / fever). When you do attend events, please be sure to wash your hands before and after your activity. For up-to-date information about the virus, visit the government's website here
Your future, Your Stretford. 5pm - 7pm, Wednesday 25th March
Are you 16 - 21yrs? Come along to Stretford Public Hall on Wednesday 25th March to share your views on the future of Stretford town centre.
We want to find out what you think of the Council's future plans for the town centre. Join us at this special event for young people to talk about Stretford.
Everyone who takes part will get a £20 high street shopping voucher, and there will be free pizza & refreshments too.
Your views on the future plans will be shared with the council and with Stretford Mall.
It's free to attend but places are limited so please register for a free place to let us know if you'd like to come along.
If you've got any questions about the meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text/whatsapp on 07926 686224.