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Skills, Schools, Stories

'Skills, Schools & Stories' was developed as an integrated programme of activities providing opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in the restoration of Murrays' Mills and the regeneration of the Ancoats area of Manchester. The project had a total cost of £150,000 and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with private sector sponsorship and 'contributions in kind' from volunteers. A Community Development Officer was employed to develop and implement the programme. The project was completed in summer 2007 and has its own legacy website.

Skills

Bricklaying workshop

Bricklaying workshop

A series of open days enabled young people to witness construction skills, especially the specialist conservation techniques being employed in the Murrays' restoration project. The target audience was 14 to 19 year olds. Feedback from the training sessions, which were supervised by Wates Construction's Training Manager, was very positive. Groups that particularly benefited included students from the Buzz Pupil Referral Unit in Gorton and participants from the Manchester Young Offending Team.

Schools

Schoolboy at a Murrays' Mills workshop

Workshop for schoolchildren

A teachers' resource pack has been distributed free of charge to all Manchester primary schools. The CD ROM enables Key Stage 2 pupils to learn more about the heritage of their local area, with cross-curricular activities to complement the national curriculum in arts, humanities and ICT subjects. Ten local primary schools participated in a series of site visits and school-based art, drama and story-telling workshops, with over 300 children aged between 6 and 10 being able to participate.

Stories

Ancoats women on a day out

Ancoats women on a day out

This part of the programme involved recording the memories and memorabilia of older residents and former residents of the Ancoats area. Subtitled 'All Work and No Play?', the archive is intended to celebrate the great sense of community in Ancoats and to rekindle that community spirit through intergenerational activities and celebrations. A group of volunteers completed a programme of training in interviewing techniques and photograph scanning at the North West Sound Archive. They identified people to interview and visited them in their homes. Over forty recordings have been transcribed for a publication. Some have been used to support exhibitions about Ancoats life, as part of the Skills, Schools and Stories project and in Manchester galleries.

As a celebration of the project, and a keepsake for those who took part, Heritage Works has published an "Ancoats Scrapbook: All Work and No Play?". The book features quotes and photos from the interviewees, ranging in subject from swimming in canals, to working conditions in the mills, to days out to Blackpool. Copies have been distributed to people who lived or worked in Ancoats, and to all Manchester libraries.

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