Life

Mancunians rally round Lord Mayor’s new ‘We Love MCR’ charity drive

By Rebecca Cohen

“This is Manchester we do things differently here.”

The famous words of music mogul Anthony Wilson flooded the Twitter-sphere in August, as Manchester citizens set out to prove that they would not be defeated by the violent and uncontrollable behaviour of rioters.

Whilst the city’s streets became almost unrecognisable, and members of the public found themselves baffled by the display of mayhem and disruption, there was still one thing that remained absolutely clear – the strength of Mancunian love and pride.

Hundreds of volunteers united to help clean up the debris and mess that looter’s left behind, thousands took to social networking sites to share their views, and, as a result of the anarchy, ‘I Love MCR’ was born.

Now the success of Marketing Manchester’s, Manchester City Council’s and Manchester Arndale’s three-week campaign – which gained over 2,000 Facebook likes and began Twitter trending in less than 24 hours – has inspired The Lord Mayor of Manchester’s Charity Appeal Trust to alter its name.

The trust, which has been raising thousands of pounds for the city’s most disadvantaged people for more than a decade, was relaunched as ‘We Love MCR’ at a special event at The Museum of Science and Industry on Sunday.

The change in name reflects the charities aim to better represent Manchester businesses, people and good causes and allow greater participation from its residents – who will be given the opportunity to offer their views on how funds raised should be used.
 
The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Harry Lyons, said: “Thousands of people have been helped by the charity and as we move into this exciting new phase, I’m confident that even more will benefit from the generosity and civic pride of the people of this great city.

“This truly is Manchester’s charity, and supporting it is a great way that Mancunians can help each other.

“What better way to reflect that than by using the now iconic We Love MCR imagery – it’s a perfect fit.”

His sentiment was supported by Councillor Elaine Boyes, who said: “The charity has existed for many years, but not had the profile it deserves to fulfill its goals.

“We are now in a position to change that.”

Anybody  that was involved in, or showed support for, the I Love MCR campaign was able to attend the invite-only charity launch, which was hosted by TV legend Gordon Burns and included entertainment from musician Swing Out Sister and 2004 X Factor contestant Rowetta.

Mr Burns, who was suffering with an inflamed knee, attended the event despite doctor’s orders – to share his zest for the charity’s progressive step.

In his speech, the former Krypton Factor presenter, said: “The I Love MCR campaign has become a symbol of the city’s resilience and pride.

“Throughout the disturbance, the message was clear – our people love Manchester.”

The atmosphere of the evening truly reflected the words of Mr Burns, as Manchester’s businesses, residents and employees joined together to share their approval for the charity’s new phase.

Surrey-born Richard Soper, 56, who is the Regional Strategic Development Director
(North) for Manchester’s travelcard service System One, said at the event: “The response to the disturbances was typical of the way Manchester people work together when something goes wrong.

“System One will be rising to the challenge to do what we can to help the charity.”

And Susan Dolan, 38, who is a Google Expert Freelancer offered her services for free throughout the time of the riots – focusing on the businesses that had been affected and looking at how Google was viewing them.

Having received a special invite to the MOSI event, she said: “The little man down the road could have lost everything. But something good has come out of something bad.”

The charity aims to raise £500,000 in its first year, and was put on the right track by bookie Fred Done, who handed over a generous £100,000 cheque.

But as Chris Bird, chair of the charity’s fundraising committee, pointed out on the night – as he shared the charity’s tagline of ‘It’s give a little, help a lot’ – any donation is a helpful one.

As one of the first initiatives to raise money, the charity has launched an online auction, which invites people to bid on T-shirts and posters signed by some of the country’s biggest stars – including Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, England cricket legend Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, and Corrie girl Sacha Parkinson, better known as Sian Powers.

There are 14 auction items in total, and people have until the 14th November to place their bids.

Proceeds that are made will help to fund groups such as Wood Street Mission and
Cornerstone, special events, and short breaks for families who cannot afford to go away together.

Jan O’ Connor, Manager of Wood Street Mission, which provides essential goods to families throughout the year, said: “The funding donated to us by the [previously named] Lord Mayor’s Trust has helped us to ensure that thousands of disadvantaged children from Manchester and Salford did not go without essential items, including clothing, bedding, toys and baby equipment.”

And Tony Murray, Executive Officer at the registered charity Cornerstone, which is a day centre for homeless adults, rough sleepers and adults with addictions, added: “Cornerstone receives no statutory funding, and as we receive well over 200 visitors every day, support from the Lord Mayor’s Trust is vital to us.”

Having already made a significant impact on people’s lives, it is now hoped that the charity’s revamped look will attract the same attention and spirit that was shown throughout the August outburst of civil unrest.

In the words of Mr Burns himself, “We’re on the verge of doing something very special – it’s our city, so let’s love it.”

A dedicated We Love MCR website is coming very soon.

Meanwhile, donations to the charity can be made at www.justgiving.com/welovemcr and bids for auction items can be made on www.visitmanchester.com/auction.

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