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Spirit Story Day One - Monday 19 September

There were three stories that happened on 19 September:

The Proud Trust - A cafe which is open to everyone on the public's own terms

The work of the Proud Trust is life saving and life enhancing for young LGBT people. Some of whom are out and others who will come out soon as well as those who will never want to come out. They have run a community café for the last 3½ years on Sidney Street in Manchester. It is open to everyone, supports young LGBT people, and is an example of the clear inclusiveness of the organisation and helps to demystify common perceptions. The café serves both vegetarian and vegan food as well as offering outside catering services.
There is a social benefit to the café as people don’t have to feel alone and isolated. The café just about breaks even and is helped with grant aid but every penny helps to keep things going. At 12.30pm on Monday 19th September, there were 25 people in the cafe, two volunteers helping to make the food and serve, and one member of staff. One of the volunteers in the cafe is 18 years old and has learnt to cook and use a till. They feel that this will help them to find a job when they go to unviersity but will also help them cook good meals on a budget. 

"I'm bisexual but attending the youth group has taught me a lot about the LGBT community, especially what it means to be trans. I found the different pronoun use hard at first but its been a good learning experience. Since coming to the group I've found it easier to deal with people in society generally. It's great to have somewhere to come and be myself. Everyone gets on with each other". Visitor to the youth group, another service from The Proud Trust. 

Nazarene Theological College - Fostering a sense of community

Nazarene Theological College (NTC) are based in Didsbury, south Manchester and they nurture a learning community with one aim: to prepare their students for innovative Christian ministry. 
This week is registration week. NTC provided lunch for new and existing students to welcome them. On Monday 19th September, there were 50 people at the college in Didsbury. It gave students that have moved to Manchester for the course and current students the opportunity to mix and have a good meal. This has the benefit of fostering a sense of community and builds relationships. The students feel valued as individuals and this may enable them to feel more relaxed with their studies.

NTC also hold a number of other social events throughout the year including a neighbourhood community day to build links in Didsbury.

One student said “People interact differently when there is food. It is easier to talk over food as you have something else to focus on, it isn't as awkward or intense”. Another lunch participant said “It helps to build community and this is a core value of NTC.”

4 Steps - Improving employment prospects

Set up as a Community Interest Company in 2012, 4 Steps is supported by Manchester City Council and provides information, advice and guidance to people seeking to improve their employment prospects and to VCSE organisations wanting to grow and become more sustainable.

Today 4 Steps was running a support session for individuals at its new Enterprise and Learning Centre in Burnage which opened in June. Despite the Centre being in the final stage of refurbishment, three service users were in today to be involved in support activities tailored to their needs. One person was attending a mock job interview in order to work on improving their approach to this crucial aspect of getting a new job. Another attendee was being supported to develop their IT skills in in order to improve their access to employment opportunities found on the internet. The third and final user of today’s session was getting help with their CV and cover-letter writing skills. There had meant to be a fourth attendee of this session but they cancelled as they were attending a job interview!

Service users appreciate the personal approach to the employment and enterprise activities that are offered. David has had a succession of short-term job contracts and wants more stable employment. Talking about how the 4 Steps approach compares to that offered by government agencies, David said: “The system tries to fit square pegs into round holes without thinking about the skills the person has. 4 Steps is more personal and is helping me to find work that fits my skills”. This approach aims to improve the confidence of its users who benefit from responsive, relaxed and personalised contact with tutors.

A Storify version of the day, which is a summary of the Twitter messages posted, can be found via this link - https://storify.com/PolicyVoiceMacc/spirit-story-day-one