We are aiming to compile a digest of specifically Northern organisations, groups and charities who in some way or another are working to improve the quality of civic life in the North.
For the idea of a directory, we owe a debt to the Hannah Directory, who since 2013 have been “celebrating the great stuff people are doing in places in England’s North, and asking how even more of it can happen”. We could not put it better.
We completely recognise that many national organisations do extraordinarily valuable work in the North, and that a vast number of Northerners achieve great things working for national bodies.
But the purpose of the Northern Umbrella is to focus on the North of England specifically and so the key criterion for this directory is that the group is based in the North and is specifically interested in improving the North itself.
As an example: the Big Issue Foundation is a wonderful national charity working with the homeless. It does great work across the UK. The Big Issue magazine is published weekly in London and Glasgow and famously offers its sellers ‘a hand up, not a hand out’.
The Big Issue North magazine is a separate organisation which publishes a separately produced Northern edition of the magazine. It is produced in Manchester with distribution offices in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull and Preston. It hits the streets every fortnight. The magazine is closely linked to the Big Issue in the North Trust, a charity based in the North working with the homeless. They are both part of the wider Big Life Group, one of Britain’s largest social enterprises, based in Manchester and devoted to creating opportunities for people to change their lives.
In our vision for the directory (soon to be realised…), we would pick out Big Issue North magazine under the media category, the Big Issue in the North Trust in the charities category, and the Big Life Group in the social enterprises category.
Big Issue North works in the North for the North whilst relating well in a federal manner with the sister organisation in the wider UK. This is exactly the way of working that interests us, as we try to envisage a truly inclusive Northern Powerhouse partnership.
Here are our first experimental categories:
Greening: a guide devoted to groups working in the North for civic improvement, strengthening community spirit and involvement, and making the North a better, greener place to live.
Media: a guide covering print and web news media serving the North and its places, plus a guide to the best of the rest of UK’s independent alternative media, from which the North can learn.
If you have any feedback on the directory, then do please get in touch at Northern.Umbrella at hotmail dot com