This evening saw a significant slice of Manchester's creative world come together in support of a longstanding, but of late largely ignored, cornerstone of Manchester's social-industrial past. The Wood Street Mission was established 141 years ago by Manchester's business community to help the neediest in Manchester and Salford. Throughout its life Wood Street has provided essential food and clothing to those with nothing, helping them through hard times, before getting them back on their feet.
The Creative Friends of Wood Street are a group of creative professionals and creative businesses that have come together, giving their time and resources for free, to help promote the work of the mission and raise the profile of their excellent work. The exhibition "Life in a Day" brings together images from the mission's archive alongside new work from photographer Andrew Brooks who has spent the last year documenting their ongoing work. Intended as the first in a series of profile raising explorations into Wood Street's work the Creative Friends ultimate aim is to encourage more businesses and individuals to engage with the Mission's work and embrace the tradition of Mancunians at the top helping those who find themselves at the bottom.
I got the chance to speak to Wood Street manager Jan O'Connor to discuss the origins of the Mission, the thinking behind the Creative Friends initiative and the challenges faced by small charities in the current climate. You can listen here.
Although out of the public eye for some time the Mission has been a consistent force for good in Manchester that helped over 11,500 local people, including direct help for over 7,300 local children over the last 12 months. Now, having seen a new business community grow around it on the Spinningfields site, the mission is once again appealing to those doing well out of the city to help them continue their work supporting those a little less fortunate by donating as little as £7.50 a month .
The exhibition is an excellent introduction into the history of a true forgotten gem of Manchester's third sector and, although only open for 3 days over the weekend, is an opportunity for anyone looking to help make Manchester a better place find out about one charity that has consistently delivered for people in need. Even if you can't make it you can donate directly here http://www.justgiving.co.uk/woodstreetmission/Donate or you can call the Mission on 0161 834 3140 to book onto one of their monthly tours to see their work first hand.
"Life in a Day" is open from Friday 30th July - Sunday 1st August 2010 Unit B1/B2 (Next to Cafe Rouge), Irwell Square, Left Bank Spinningfields, Manchester , M3 3AN