Jack Abbott - Engineering Supervisor Stagecoach
“This job has been great for me,” says Jack Abbott. Starting as an apprentice at Stagecoach, Jack combined school studies with on-the-job learning. “My school was extremely good at offering routes through education that were different to the traditional one. I’ve got a very positive view of the education I was given in Wythenshawe.”
Having grown up in the area, Jack was able to complete an engineering NVQ whilst beginning the apprenticeship at the bus company. “It worked out perfectly. A few of us applied and were able to spend one day a week at Stagecoach. The link between formal education and being at work was good, they helped each other and me.”
Having recruited Jack, HR Assistant Chris Metcalfe notes, “We were keen to employ Jack after he completed his engineering apprenticeship in Sharston. The transition to his Engineering Supervisor role has been smooth and we’ll always support graduates like Jack to continue their success stories up the career ladder at Stagecoach.”
Jack is aware of some people’s opinions of the area. “They’re not always positive, but I think a lot of that is based on outdated preconceptions. There is a lot going on here and I really like the sense of community. Stagecoach supports that as well, they’re a great group to work with, and all locals.”
When thinking of the future, Jack says, “I am happy here. They’re a hard-working bunch of people and I appreciate having the encouragement of management to remain in the company.”
Lara Saxe - Student
Praised by Ofsted for its vision, determination and aspirational attitude to education, Manchester Enterprise Academy (MEA) is making a strong statement in Wythenshawe.
Sixth form student Lara Saxe certainly agrees that she’s equipped with the tools needed to succeed. “The level of support you get here is amazing. There is a genuine community feel and you know the teachers want the best for you. I know people that left to go to college for sixth form, but have felt the transition was too much at the time. Everyone here has known me since I started aged 11, that makes a difference.”
As one of the top 100 most improved schools in England, MEA’s commitment to ‘a fantastic future for all’ is clearly working.
As a student specialising in tourism, Lara says, “The proximity to the airport is great, I feel lucky to have that on the doorstep. The links the school has made there are really encouraging and I’m hopeful this will lead onto future opportunities.”
Alongside her studies, Lara takes part in a mentoring programme, receiving advice from her mentor at Manchester City Council. “In the summer I did work experience with them. Now, I see my mentor once a week, they give me great career advice. They’re very supportive and helpful in suggesting future prospects.”
This has prompted Lara to do the same for younger students at MEA. “I really like being able to do that, it’s satisfying. I know that I’ve been given a great start and it’s good to be able to repay that. My teachers have put in so much extra effort for me, I like having this responsibility.”
Growing up in Wythenshawe, Lara knows the area has faced challenges. “Some of my friends don’t take the time to find out what’s going on here, but I think it’s a great community. It’s such a green place, Wythenshawe Park is beautiful. And I love that the Metrolink comes out to us now, I can be in Manchester in no time. I like Wythenshawe. I belong here.”
Sue Blaylock- Community Activist & Volunteer
“I feel so positive about Wythenshawe right now,” says Real Lives ambassador, and resident of Wythenshawe for 34 years, Sue Blaylock. “There’s more pride here than ever before, so much green space, the quality of the housing is really high and great facilities allow people from all walks of life the opportunity to get involved in any number of activities.”
In 2004, community activist Sue set up the Wythenshawe Wheelers, an all-ability cycling club based in Wythenshawe Park. From humble beginnings with just four bikes, the Wheelers now have 120 bikes and over 400 members. "It's about making cycling accessible for all,” she explains. “We've got all kinds of adapted bikes, such as hand cycles, trikes and tandems to get people, both disabled and able-bodied, out and about."
Sue was an Olympic torchbearer for the 2012 London Olympics and was a big part of the Wythenshawe Games. From Easter to the start of the Olympics, club members cycled 120,000 laps of Wythenshawe Park's athletic track – the equivalent of cycling the 5,000 miles from Manchester to Rio. For this epic undertaking, the club was also joined by Brazilian paralympians Jao Schwindt and Soelito Ghor for the last few laps!
If you want to get involved in the Wythenshawe Wheelers you can just pop down to the park and see what's going on or for more information visit www.simply-cycling.org.
Kirsty Taylor - Bideford Centre Co-ordinator
“Oh, just give me a minute, it’s all going on!” As Kirsty Taylor receives a healthy amount of bagged clothes at the Bideford Centre, she begins to separate out the donated garments.
Although she didn’t grow up in Wythenshawe, Kirsty has lived in the area for 14 years. “I definitely consider myself to be from here now. I love the people that visit the Centre and feel very committed to being there for them. Some people have faced difficult times in their lives, and coming to see us offers a consistent support, a little escape.”
Staffed by volunteers, the Centre has a large area for local people to buy clothes and toys. “The Bideford Boutique is a really practical way for us to help, to prevent people using up their resources elsewhere. We also have a café here. People pop in, it’s a great place to socialise and get to know your neighbours. It’s great for those living on their own or for anyone to have a break from their usual routine.”
The Bideford Centre runs various IT courses to help locals get online, as well as a packed schedule of social groups. “There is a fantastic community feel here, and that’s down to the relationship between the locals and the volunteers. We all help each other out. It’s a friendly atmosphere and an encouraging one, too.”
Jill Lingard - Musician
“I first moved to Wythenshawe as a student back in 1971,” reflects retired teacher, composer and musician Jill Lingard. “I had a friend who already lived here and I wanted to be near them. I found that the library in particular was invaluable to my early education. I still use it to this day. It’s a remarkable space.”
A woman that lives and breathes song, Jill taught music for 22 years at St John Fisher and Thomas More Primary School. She also worked at St Anthony's Primary School. Her own children grew up in the area and went to school here and she volunteers at Wythenshawe’s 050 Choir.
"When I was teaching I liked to teach the children something different from the pop songs they were used to listening to so we often sang sea shanties, folk songs the rounds and spirituals where we could talk about the history as well as the music... the children really loved it.
"I'm still involved in music and now I'm Choir Director for the 050 choir, a community choir for people aged over 50.
"I love that Wythenshawe is so green and that you only have to go a short way to get into the countryside. As a music teacher I have come into contact with so many parents and children – there's always someone who will say hello to me as I am walking along; it's so lovely to have a little community."
Jill is part of a group called Partita that performs songs and instrumental music from the 12th to the 18th Century. Find out more about Partita on their website www.partita.co.uk