Young people of Oldham are going to get the biggest treat ever, as the opening day of Mahdlo’s new building is due to open in March 2012. Here’s my Xmas special people; talking about the wonders of Mahdlo and how it benefits our town.
Lucy Kershaw talking to the kids
What is Mahdlo? Well, quite simply, Mahdlo is a £5 million project which will offer some of the most amazing facilities that’ll give youths the opportunity to engage with. There’s been a decline in what the community has to offer its kids, but the people behind Mahdlo have identified the problem and will step up the boundaries tenfold. Things for young people to do shall not be limited anymore and there’s space for everybody to do things. Children of all ages, backgrounds, sexes and races are welcome; it accommodates for everybody! OnSide are an organisation who specialise with youth in the community, they secured funding to build centres for young people in the North West. Oldham is going to evolve with this new centre; everyone is thoroughly looking forward to it.
“To build, deliver and sustain a network of 21st century youth centres across the North-West giving young people top quality, safe and affordable places to visit in their leisure time.”
The vision will come into perspective next year
Words can’t describe how appreciative everybody is at the moment, and certainly will be more gratitude when the completion of the heavily-invested building passes. The future of young people in Oldham is shaped by this very programme. It’s fortunate for kids to have access to this wonderful building with an array of activities which will be within reach, there’s the possibility of picking up new hobbies as well as making new friends. Plus, a unity will be fortified. Declines in opportunities for young people failing to get up to something fun and creative will surely end when kids from all over the show will most likely swing by the centre.
Messages are cascaded all over the walls for kids
There’re endless things to say about the building and the many facilities, but let me move onto talking about the pre-movement. I went down to the youth centre, just off Union Street. It’s a warm environment where the children have been going over time. There I met some of the kids and Mahdlo team, who were all keen to let me know about what they’re looking forward to the most. Before I get down to the juicy details, I want to give a shout-out to a few people involved with Mahdlo: Rebecca Baron (OnSide’s finest), Laura Windsor-Welsh (Youth Work Manager) , Lucy Kershaw (Youth Worker), Rachelann Brooks (Youth Worker), Helen Taylor (Chief Executive), Ste Hardy (Youth Worker), and Lee Thompson and his band of helpers.
Me and some of the lovely workers
The current youth centre is just across the road from Connexions, and has provided young people with a place to hang out after school and during the holidays. It didn’t take long for me to understand the attitudes and values of everybody in the room. The children turn up as a means to ‘get out of the house’, chat and chill with their friends, let their creative sides loose, and to participate in various activities. It was Christmas card week, so for all the wonderful sponsors and partners who’ve been behind the launch of the new building, were to receive a special message from the kids. When will a time ever occur when I’m not tempted to get my hands stuck in?
The glitter glue is out again
From the kid’s perspectives, it seems that the facilities that they’re looking forward to the most involve fitness. The boys are primarily looking forward to the gymnasium and boxing classes, whilst the girls are intrigued by the prospect of dance. It amazes me to an extent as there’s a desire for fitness-related activities, maybe it’ll create an incentive for the youth of Oldham to engage in calorie-burning sessions!
All these references of ‘time’ signify the symbolism of time. The people at Mahdlo revolve around the notion of a countdown, so as each day draws nearer, the enticement blooms. When I spoke to one of their helpers, Lee Thompson, whose time with Mahdlo has seen him become the Chairman of the Young Peoples Development Group. I found out more about why the countdown was important:
“As each day passes, it’s an incentive for us to feel excited to move to the new centre”, he said, “It’s going to be huge.”
I spoke to everyone there on the night including some of the youth workers, but I recorded an amazing interview with Laura Windsor-Welsh, who’s one of the finest youth workers I’ve encountered. I’d love to share it with you but there’s a technical glitch at the moment which is unfixable, I’m sure it’ll feature in the next Mahdlo piece as Laura explains the importance of “pride” in Oldham. Laura had this to say:
"There are fantastic offers that Mahdlo will give to young people. Phenomenal facilities that young people deserve and will enjoy, this investment shows that Oldham cares about the youth generation. The facilities will be accessible and will give tonnes of new experiences whether friendships are formed between the kids or between kids and youth workers, doing new things that young people never thought of doing, and so much more. The ethos of Mahdlo is that young people drive the project and it’s brilliant.”
Never forget that youth workers are there for support
Lucy invited me over to come and have a tour of the work-in-progress Mahdlo building, so I met the gang outside Bluecoat School a few days later. Despite the terrible weather conditions, it was enticing to get an exclusive preview of the interior. Armed with helmets and steel toe-capped wellies, a few of us were guided into the main entrance. Accompanying us was Mahdlo’s director, Susan Boyle, who gave us a rundown of what certain areas inside would look like. It was nice to use our imaginations and visualise all the greatness to come. The climbing wall was the pinnacle; surrounded by construction it looked awesome.
Colourful and charasmatic
It looks rather small from the outside, but I was taken up various flights of stairs and guided towards many rooms that include media suites, offices, dance and gym studios, and much more. The place is massive. It was time to get out the Christmas cards we made earlier, they spelt out the message, “Merry Crimbo from Mahdlo”, and so we all got in a line with our funky Santa Claus hats on. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day because not only did I get to predict the goodness that’s slowly approaching, but it gives me great pleasure to see the project unfold before my eyes.
Interview with Lee Thompson
I applaud Mahdlo’s competent, charming and wonderful staff for remaining patient and getting the children’s spirits up for the big opening day. The almighty team of cool, professional youth workers have maintained strength and optimism as they look forward to the giant movement to the £5 million centre as well as the kids. A positive thing worth mentioning is that there’s a sense of loyalty within the community. Different children from different background have tried to attend as many sessions as possible despite lacking state-of-the-art facilities for different reasons, and it’s paid off. They’ll be rewarded with the immense centre with dozens of recreational activities to choose from; I guess all young people from Oldham have the opportunity to have fun!
From the highest floor
The highly anticipated centre is opening March 19 2012 and it’ll be epic. This is a huge step for Oldham’s youth, so here is your countdown timer as promised:
Click here for the Mahdlo website to find out more information. I’m sure that the team will answer many questions that you may. I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year too!
Saddleworth's Slam Dunk
It’s time for young people to shoot some hoops and show off their stripes in action-packed basketball sessions at Saddleworth School.
Jonathan giving a pre-session talk
Every Tuesday evening sees well-organised sessions run by dedicated staff of Oldham’s sports sector, which makes basketball in Saddleworth a worthwhile occasion. Although it’s necessary for me to rate people like Jonathan Harrison, who leads the activity, that’s only the beginning. Never have I witnessed a sporting session which is a collaboration of both genders and all ages together, thus it caters perfectly well for the younger generation in Oldham. The icing on the cake is definitely the £1 entry fee; it’s more than a fair price!
Children enjoying basketball
The sports hall and gymnasium are utilised as many kids come running in, all eager to play basketball. Staff split up the children into age, and if there’s more than a handful of boys and girls for each staff member, then the older lads who train afterwards, lend a helping hand. The relationship between teacher and student is wonderful as the kids are fairly disciplined and immediately respond to instructions without temptation of bouncing the balls as the staff talk.
With maintainable co-operation and control, the kids immediately immerse themselves by playing basketball and have a good time. They all seemed to enjoy keeping active with non-stop energy and determination to improve. Every child is equally put on the spotlight to demonstrate what they’ve learned and to be given a head start in a mini-game or drill. It’s not a sport to be taken lightly, I saw a couple of youngsters who were the alphas of their groups, dominating as their ability surpassed others, especially newcomers. The competitive spirit is always bursting out whenever a team sport is played, but basketball is entertaining and fun to play.
Competitive practice game between the older, professional boys
Jonathan believes that the session can offer numerous opportunities for kids who’re interested in the sport:
“Anybody that hasn’t played before are taken through the simplistic side of basketball with step-by-step routines. The older bunch co-ordinate their own games and get on with it as they’re more experienced. But overall, everybody enjoys the sessions. This community activity will obviously pave way for more opportunities for the more talented players we have here.”
Interview with Jonathan Harrison
From my eyes, I love the venue as it creates plenty of space for a horde of eager children to storm in and get playing basketball. Both staff and participants are charismatic and there’s a good atmosphere.
The younglings taking part in a dribbling game
To summarise basketball at Saddleworth School: great staff, great sport, great mixtures of personalities, and great opportunities. I’d recommend this activity to parents in Oldham as it’s suitable for both genders and newbie-friendly. Jonathan and his team strive to do their best and improve the quality of the service provided; with more numbers they could take things further.
Making a guest appearance at Saddleworth School
Jonathan is open to all enquiries and he’s keen to give out extra information regarding his activity.
Contact Number: 07761743034
Make Noise in Oldham with Band School
If there’s ever a need to make music through a set of creative exercises, then Band School’s the place to be.
Simon and one of his students
Musical-based activities would cease to exist in Oldham town centre if it wasn’t for Sam Malik, the owner of multimedia company, Square1. The initiative is to apply the organisation’s specialities which are the provision of audio and video services to make Band School happen. Sam’s an awesome guy who I’ve briefly worked with before during a networking night in 2010, where I filmed a short interview with him. The programme runs on a weekly basis at Square1’s headquarters, just around the corner from Sainsbury’s.
The simplistic set-up that's used
Sessions are run by the company’s Head of Live Music, Simon Bennett, who’s the backbone of Band School’s values, trying to make music tuition accessible and fun. A basis was established in the beginning in order to get young people into music, as Simon believes that anybody can become talented musicians if they gradually have a passion for music. Alongside Simon is his sister, Liz, who supports the sessions with her enthusiasm and sentiment for music. Together, they’re a formidable duo; perhaps this is because they come from a musically-orientated family.
I stood back and watched the siblings do their thing, only to be impressed of course. Simon stood out as an inspirational figure as he educated the children and got them to comprehend with his technique. There was a mellow environment, everyone seemed content and only had a drive to make music; even when time’s always a restraint. The plan of the evening was to resume practice from the previous week where Simon was getting the “band” to progress with the jazz sets that they’ve been working with.
Effective teaching methods
There’s never any doubt amongst the group, even when Simon instructs the children to do badly and fail in attempts to make an impact, it’s all part of the development process. Even Simon himself said that Band School is all about failing in order to succeed, so practice makes perfect. I saw that the teaching methods proved worthy, as there was discipline and a yearning to do more. The group continuously played the same set over and over again until they nailed it completely, which didn’t take long by the way!
Interviewing Simon as he plays the piano
That night, more young people were expected, but the low numbers did not fool me at all. I was unfazed because the session featured two girls who are regular attendees along with a new kid on the block, just as keen and willing as the other two. I guess this was a good thing for the new boy as he needed to settle, being overwhelmed with more people to deal with is not ideal during ice-breaking. But that didn’t matter; he came out of his shell and gave it his all. Solid proof that any decent recreational activities are always prepared to give newcomers a friendly experience.
“We brainstormed all possibilities to see whether we could come up with something that involved free music intuition, so it started off as a basic club for kids to come along and form a band,” Simon explained. “I want to try and show people the nice and creative side of music. If the kids progress then they can take it a step further, in fact, they could possibly go anywhere with their new skills.”
All I have for Band School is praise. They work hard to bring out the creativity and vibe in young people; it’s admirable. Not only are children and teenagers taught about versatility with different instruments, but personal qualities such as confidence, co-operation, outgoingness and determination, come to light. I’d recommend this activity to young people who are keen to be musically educated who are up for the practicalities that are on offer.
Get in touch with Sam Malik if you’re interested, plus Square1 have other activities available such as Urban Tek; same principles but different sort of music making.
World of Warpath #1
Welcome to World of Warpath! I'll be doing blog posts about what occurs in my lifestyle in order to give you an insight to what I love to get up. This week I've decided to write about my action-packed weekend in London. I got my game on playing my favourite game, Gears of War 3, with the competitive community that I devote spare time to.
Yours truly at EGL 4
The upcoming gaming event brand, European Gaming League, has provided gamers with a hunger to take it to the next level with cash prize tournaments. EGL was established in 2009 and ran a prototype event at a small venue in order to see if they had what it took to maintain an organisation as such. Console gaming was at an all-time high before EGL was in the works as another company hosted gaming events in UK under the name of Matchbox XL, however this only happened from 2006-08 before mysteriously disbanding. It was thanks to people such as Chris ‘Mellow’ Marsh who’s currently one of the head administrators of EGL that fun-filled and competitive console gaming exists, not only as a community but an opportunity for newcomers as well. Chris managed to learn from the beta event which took place in HMV Gamerbase Manchester, and thus the magnitude increased. There was More publicity, more advertisement, more action, more gaming and most importantly, more gamers.
The first EGL event 2009, who can you see in the video?
At this current stage, EGL event #5 is being organised for April 2012. I’ve followed the event at places such as Blackpool and Liverpool in the last year, but recently I went south to London as EGL 4 was hosted at the Emirates Stadium. It’s unbelievable that I witnessed a gaming event happen at an elite landmark that I’ve always wanted to see. I love Thierry Henry as well by the way. The other venues were good such as Liverpool’s BT Convention Center and Blackpool’s Norbreck Castle, but they aren’t acknowledged like Arsenal’s football ground, it’s well-known.
The Emirates Stadium looking stunning
I was mesmerised at the cleanliness of the place was, that was a huge factor as well as how posh the inside was too. Aesthetics matter at proper events that have been planned out well, any event in general. There were so many new gamers who were all opting to play reoccurring titles Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War (my game!), FIFA, Street Fighter and now Starcraft II which isn’t a console game. PC gaming is ridiculously huge worldwide, so to incorporate an event which caters for both console and PC gamers, then competitive gaming organisations such as EGL, will prosper.
An epic Call of Duty match between Imperial & infused
During events, people get the chance to play on their game of choice as well as to spectate and have a browse around the various sponsor stands. It’s like an exhibition, you look around and see what gets you interested the most, and you can have a taste for everything available. People network with one another as newcomers are the new face of the game and have a desire to get known with a reputation, others have created long-term friendships and look forward to seeing their pals at the event. But when it all gets competitive, that’s when you see the transition.
Even French teams like Rdamage have a point to prove
Gamers don’t attend these sorts of events just to have a laugh, everyone has a winning mentality. Players go totally in the zone and the atmosphere becomes competitive. With people aiming for a top placement, proving themselves or making a stand, each game becomes highly entertaining to follow. I’ll admit, I didn’t come prepared for EGL4 due to not sorting myself a proper team out for Gears of War 3, but I wasn’t expecting to go back empty handed. I still played my heart out and tried but it’s a new game and I lacked the experience to play naturally. The event has previously hosted Gears of War 1 as it’s an amazing game despite being ancient now. I’ll be back next time with a bang for sure.
Mainstage, I'll be playing on you one day!
Let’s talk about the negative aspect of most EGL events. The food is not recommended at events because it’s expensive, but thank god for McDonald’s! Other than that, there aren’t any real problems. It’s more expensive down south which is expected. It’s only fair that southerners get an opportunity to attend an event near to home for once as the majority of these conventions run either up north or in the middle of the country. If you’re not an organised person, then sort out your priorities! I was only kidding, but I’m being serious now, the event becomes pricey if you fail to book accommodation and sort out travel earlier on. There’ve been instances where people fail to attend due to hotel rates rocketing sky-high; don’t risk it after telling you this.
Warpath getting his game on
Best ‘til last policy kicking in now, here’s what Chris had to say when I asked him how EGL’s service provides not only an entertaining experience but also a sustainable event for gamers to support and rely on. Wise words here people:
“At EGL we constantly strive to improve ourselves, the quality of our service and the quality of our competitions. We work hard to learn what it is the community want to see from us and we put in the time and effort to get to know as many people as want to know us. I think the extremely close relationship with the communities that we serve enable us to provide the best event possible. There are always mistakes made and we aim to learn from these mistakes. EGL5 will hopefully be even better and that is our next focus. Attending an EGL event is not just turning up and playing a few games, it's the experience, the bonding with other gamers and the heat of competition. Sure, you may lose all your games but hopefully you'll come back next time even stronger. The European Gaming League provides the most competitive console competitions outside of North America and that is what you get when you attend our events.”
Catching Chris at the wrong time
If you’re interested in finding out more about the gaming community that’s immense accessible, head over to www.decerto.net to find out more information about the game that you fancy taking up at the next event. I’ll be writing about my favourite hobby of all time in part 2 of World of Warpath. Goodbye for now!
The Small Cinema's Big Ambition
Films are certainly not coming to a cinema near you as it’s already here. The Small Cinema project is a creative programme that has the recreational hobby of cinema-going to offer to residents of Oldham.
The attractive banner
Starting over a year ago, a group of young people with a yearning for the world of cinema brainstormed about how they could bring films to light in Oldham. Why did they do this? Simply because there isn’t a multiplex in the town centre, thus the nearest cinemas remain in Rochdale, Ashton and Manchester. The good news was that the pitch was successful and as a result they won an arts council grant to establish The Small Cinema programme.
Leading lady, Sophie Barrott, who’s a film enthusiast and currently works at the Odeon as a projectionist, found inspiration to initiate the programme. It was all the months of hard work last year that has lead Sophie to give people the opportunity to enjoy aspects of film locally. The sessions have been running at two particular venues, The Gallery and Playhouse 2. The significant aspect of the project is that it caters for all ages. Children’s films are shown with arts and crafts sessions occurring a few hours beforehand, but parents take their children so they can enjoy the hobby together. Also, a range of genres with different age certifications are shown during the evening as the current venues in use are alternated.
On the day of the session, Dreamwork’s Rio, was not only the film being shown but it created a theme. The film is about parrots so there were sheets to colour in, badges to make and bird masks to be refined with feathers and other bits and bobs to glue on. I found myself immersed when I attended the session. I only expected to get the general scoop and information required to write this, but I was totally in the zone. I was keen to participate in helping to run the arts and craft session alongside making a bird mask myself. Using glitter glue was nostalgic and I was in bliss.
I was speaking to other parents as they happily watched their children thoroughly enjoy themselves. Mother of two, Sarwat Siddiq, was impressed by the arts and crafts display. “It draws the children in and keeps them busy as they become creatively engaged. There are books in the library which is an important event," she said strongly. “The more creative the sessions, the better the appeal is. If there’s a balance of education and creativity then the children won’t get bored. More physical participation keeps them satisfied.”
Sarwat's daughters cracking a cheeky smile
The involvement through arts and craft with parent and child
The arts and craft session intrigued the attendees; some of them didn’t know that there was a film being shown afterwards. It was quiet at first which was expected, but families came pouring in with their excited children, all prepared for doing something creative before watching Rio. Something magical about the experience was jaw-dropping, that was indeed the atmosphere.
Temporary badge for me
My mission is to help The Small Project gain some recognition but obviously that isn’t the case. The event was sold out and even though they were fully booked, the high demand only meant that exceptions were made for other families, who wouldn’t get in if it was a proper cinema. I literally only knew about how the programme can appeal to others and why it’s beneficial for families, but nothing about what happens during the events. It was massive surprise to see just how successful it was. Just looking at the huge queue before Mark was offering to shove in a few more chairs in the screening room despite selling every last ticket was brilliant.
Mark Swanwick, a co-ordinator for The Small Cinema, has been assisting Sophie on various occassions from start to finish. “The aim of the project is to entertain and to give youngsters the opportunity to see films as there’s no cinema in Oldham. If the kids get an education out of our sessions then it’s definitely a bonus.” Mark also added, "It's crucial that we deliver the experience to those who are interested in seeing films in Oldham."
The reasoning and origin behind the project through Sophie’s perspective made me connect with her and the programme itself. We were both students at Oldham Sixth Form College and had the same film studies teacher, obviously share a passion for worldwide cinema and are both keen to help out in the community.
I think that what Sophie does is fantastic. Although cinema-going and film appreciation are in my top five hobbies of all-time, I think she’s better suited to this as her life revolves around cinema! Everything has paid off, her dedication and efforts have paved a future career path where she’ll end up doing something involving cinema-based.
I’d highly recommend anybody to attend an upcoming film, not only to enjoy the experience but to also support The Small Cinema. It’s a programme that has been conceptuliased which now offers an interesting and entertaining experience; cheap tickets too. The best thing is that they’ve got bags of potential to improve and remain consistent; crucial for ambitious projects like this. They’re yet to show Hayao Miyazaki aka the Japanese Walt Disney, imagine getting together with your family and friends to watch it in Oldham, wow.
Jorel and Sophie approve
For more information about upcoming films then head over to the website, they also have a Facebook page. Sophie is open to all comments and enquiries so you can also email her.