Breaking News: Missing Manchester mother found

 

During a newsday for a Journalism Practice module I took at University I was assigned to one of the biggest stories of the day. A mother of two from Manchester had been missing for two days following her works Christmas party at Sugar Buddah on Deansgate Locks. Her family and friends had put out an urgent, desperate appeal on Facebook to help find her safe and well following her disappearance.

The behaviour was deemed ‘unlike Louise’ who was described as a ‘loving and committed mother’ which sparked high concern amongst those close to her. I traveled to the place she was last seen, Sugar Buddah to record an as live to raise awareness of her disappearance with the aim of interviewing the bar owners and also her family who were out looking for her on the day.

Once I was there I began to film my as live and my colleague went and spoke to her loved ones who were gathering outside the bar next door handing out leaflets and deciding on a plan of action to start their search party. They had stated to my colleague, they would be unable to give us an interview as they wanted to focus their attention on finding her and were also too emotional to speak about it on camera at the time.

Once we had began filming, a member of the search party, Louise’s family friend, Dominic Fleming, came over to us to ask what it was that we were filming. After explaining to him what we were doing he revealed to us, exclusively that Louise had returned home and she was currently on the phone to her sister. He explained they had no idea where she had been or in what state she was in just that she was home and alive.

We had to act quickly as we knew it would be a matter of time before larger press outlets found out she had been found so we called back into the newsroom and told the sub editor to get the information we had found online immediately. You can read the story here.

Following this we refilmed my as-live into a breaking news segment and recorded it once again on my mobile phone to send back to the newsdesk to be put into our 10am bullet in.

I am extremely proud of this piece of work as broadcast isn’t my chosen pathway and being on camera isn’t something I am overly confident with. (This might be obvious.) However we managed to get it done when time was of the essence and secured the breaking news ahead of the M.E.N.

Veganism and bodybuilding

It can take years to build a body you want, years of commitment, years of gruelling exercise, sacrifices and pushing yourself beyond your limits to achieve your goals. But as with most things in life, anything worth having usually takes a great deal of commitment and self-control to obtain.

No one has ever pretended you can change your body over night or even in a week and it is solely through determination and dedication, as with anything, that you can achieve. Any of these fad diets that can be found scattered around the internet or in glossy magazines can often market themselves as a ‘quick fix’ but none of them demonstrate long-term sustainable results. It’s been proven time and time again that the only real way to change your body is to change your lifestyle; spend time in the gym and eat a balanced, healthy diet. The same is never more true, than when looking at body building. Body building is a sport that sees both men and women, train intensively in the gym consistently with the aim of building a well sculpted, muscular body. There are dedicated competitions which require both physical and mental discipline from competitors to show the best version of themselves against their peers as they are judged by industry professionals.

Not only is there intense training involved in becoming a bodybuilder there is a strict diet that must be followed to help build lean muscle, and this is where it gets interesting. A standard body builders diet is based on high protein intake. It is recommended to consume more protein than you need to help grow muscle, the suggested intake ranges from 0.8g-1.2g of protein per pound of body mass per day. That’s a lot of protein to consume in 24 hours. Here at VLIFE, we want to know how it’s possible for someone to achieve this level of protein intake on a plant-based diet.

Of course it’s not just about the protein, it’s about achieving a long-term maintainable lifestyle whilst not putting yourself at any health risks and more than that, getting enjoyment from what it is you’re working towards.  The key to success in this strict diet is food preparation; planning and preparing meals in advance. This allows for you to get the right nutrition at the right times to help progress towards your goals, it can be challenging but worthwhile when done correctly. Nathan Umagash, 23, is a bodybuilder from Liverpool, he became vegan after discovering and researching the impact the meat and dairy industry place on not only the animals involved but also the environment. We caught up with him to find out about his journey and how he finds time to prepare his meals, train hard in the gym and have an active social life.

He explained, ‘I got into body building when I was about 16-years-old, it was more of something to do at the time but I take it more seriously now. It’s a good way to stay focused and keep your health intact. Dieting with the sole purpose of losing weight can get pretty tedious and hard to sustain, so body building gave me a purpose and encouraged me to keep my diet clean. I’m vegan because I chose to be. In my faith, a lot of people don’t eat meat for religious reasons so going vegan was just one step further for me. Of course I have friends who like to go to Nando’s after the gym and refuel, but things like that I just don’t indulge in. Not because I can’t but because I don’t want to. From being 13 I had started feeling ill when I ate foods which contained dairy so I started to look into what could be causing it. That then lead me onto vegan websites which is where my diet progressed from.’

When asked how he manages to consume enough protein to spike energy levels and promote muscle growth he added, ‘you can get vegan protein powder which doesn’t contain dairy that I have with water but also from foods such as: egg substitutes, lentils, rice cakes, spinach and oats.  I’ll usually have a pre workout shake which helps raise your energy just before training and this really helps to get me through those heavy sessions. Other than that I take amino acids which help to keep both my body and mind focused.’

Nathan aims to get to the gym six days a week which is slightly higher than the average body builder prefers, ‘every body builder is different’ he told us, ‘some prefer three to four times a week if they have other commitments but this tends to be reflected in the physique they hold. A standard training session for me would include up to 12 different exercises depending on the time I have to train. When I first started I probably wouldn’t train as often as I do now and that’s because my recovery time was a little longer than others. I used to get myself really wound up about that. But since I’ve developed my body has got used to it and I am able to train heavier, and more often which is great for me.’

Nathan went on to explain how his cheat meals are limited, but he makes sure to indulge once a week to keep him hungry for success in the gym. He professes to feeling passionate about the lifestyle choices he has made and will do anything necessary to help him on the road to success. When asked if he would consider competing in an industry competition he said, ‘I would consider it definitely. I have considered it. Competition prep is a lot different to off season dieting and the side effects of completely cutting carbs could be a struggle. I think it all boils down to how much you want it and how mentally strong you are, more than physically. But I do think I could do really well on stage if I put my mind to it, my drive to stay healthy and feel good about myself would pull me through, some may call it vanity but after you spend so much time committing to the gym, once you start to see real results it becomes an addiction. There are worse things to be addicted to though.’

Finally, we asked the 23-year-old if he could share any tips for being a successful body builder whilst being a vegan, he explained, ‘it is so important to do your research! Make sure you have supplemented what you will miss and make sure you are 100 per cent committed to the vegan lifestyle because it isn’t without it’s challenges. Many people have started and failed because they haven’t planned out an achievable exercise programme or planned their meals in advance and that can make it harder to motivate yourself to keep going. Expect it to be challenging at first but it does get easier as your body has time to adjust.’

Being a vegan shouldn’t hold you back from achieving your goals, nothing should. Nathan is living, lifting proof that your body can achieve anything, it’s just your mind you need to convince. There are so many inspirational and empowering members of the vegan community that ‘being vegan’ isn’t an excuse anymore. You’ve got this!

Our top five tips for dealing with an incompatible sleeping partner

We all know the feeling of waking up after a disturbed night sleep, the dread of the day ahead and the pain of pulling yourself away from the warmth of your cosy bed.

But for some people that dread is made worse knowing that disturbed sleep is a regular occurrence next to their incompatible sleeping partner. Research shows that there are many reasons why couples may find it difficult to dose off and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep together, the main one being snoring.

Here at Silentnight we’ve put together five tips for getting the best night’s sleep possible and maybe even saving your relationship in the process.

  1. Serial Snorers: there are so many tips to help with snoring but of course these won’t always work for everyone. The best thing to help is to reduce the consumption of food and drink in the evenings. The more you eat late at night the more likely you are to snore as food which is not fully digested before sleep can push against your diaphragm and increase the pressure on your respiratory system. Other things which may help include: change in sleeping positions, nasal cleansing with saline and of course, the old faithful, earplugs
  2. Duvet Stealer: Is there anything worse than waking up in the middle of the night shivering only to look over at your partner all wrapped up? We don’t think so either. The best solution to this is to buy separate blankets to have on top of your duvet so you will always have a back-up plan without having to initiate a tug of war situation in the bedroom
  3. Cuddlers: More couples than you may think suffer with this problem but it can be so simply resolved. Sleep specialist and clinical physiologist, Janet Kennedy suggests; a designated ‘cuddle time’ for 15-20 minutes can help and then agree to go your separate ways. That way you both get to sleep happy
  4. Lights Out: This can be an age old problem and one that can be a little harder to settle on. It is natural instinct to want to sleep in darkness. Darkness signifies sleep to most of us but there are some people who are programmed to sleep with some form of light on. The typical answer may be to get an eye mask however one way to get around this may be to keep a small, low watt plug in light on through the night as far away from the partner who likes it dark as possible
  5. Wrigglers: Foam mattresses or mattress toppers could be the answer to all your problems if your partner thrashes around the bed through the night. As there are no springs involved, the impact of the movement is minimised and you are less likely to be woken by any sudden movements.

Ultimately, to make for a good night sleep, compromising is key. But if following our five simple tips help you wake up feeling fresh then at least you’ve won.

Share your top tips for a great night’s sleep with your partner on Facebook or Twitter by using the hashtag #MySleepSecret

Review: The Deaf Institute

SITUATED just off Manchester’s busy Oxford Road, The Deaf Institute is an unlikely venue for a vegan feast. The converted three story building, which was built in 1887 and originally used as an institute for the deaf and mute community seemingly has it all these days. A quirky basement bar greets you on arrival, make your way up the stairway to the casual vegan kitchen and topped off with the third floor music hall there is something to please everyone at the bustling hotspot.

On the second floor lies every vegans dream come true with the institutes very own burger joint and kitchen. A small and intimate room dimly lit for a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. The room is quiet and contained until it gets busy and adopts a lively, fun ambience. The dining booths and benches set the tone of a casual eatery set off by over-head pendent lights and red table lamps. The room is fittingly decorated with edgy mounted stag head, band posters and antique chandeliers. There’s a constant theme of old vs new throughout the restaurant as retro wall paper lines the walls, dusted with fairy lights and all topped off with a central disco ball which shimmers lights around the room.

Indie-rock music sets the mood for a subdued dining experience. The variety of plates on offer is impressive for such a small venue, and the array of classic dishes for vegans is outstanding. The food came out quickly and with a smile, we opted for the mac and cheese and the loaded vegan nachos to start and we weren’t disappointed. The portion sizes were much larger than we expected and great value for money. The mac and cheese, made with cashew nut cheese sauce, although 100 per cent vegan was deliciously creamy and well-seasoned. Packed full of flavours with subtle under tones of garlic and a hint of spices made for a great indication of what was to come. Dressed with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley the dish was great winter comfort food on a cold evening in the city.

The nachos did not disappoint either, the bowl was filled to the brim with colours and delicious sauces topped with fresh chillies for a great vegan twist on an authentic Mexican dish. To say the two starter dishes, or ‘small plates’ as they were referred to on the menu had us feeling full may have been an understatement by this point, but it wasn’t long before we were presented with our main dishes.

We went for the veggie dog and three bean chilli with rice. Again the dishes were larger than we expected but we were up for the challenge. We went for the ultimate indulgence meals, the veggie dog came well presented on a baking tray lined with printed Deaf Institute paper with a side of house fries. The size of the dish will certainly make you wonder if perhaps your eyes are bigger than your belly. Covered in lashings of Tijuana barbeque and sour cream sauces and topped with jalapeños the dish smells almost as good at it tastes. Vegan sausage, which is made in house with only the best and freshest ingredients had a great texture and taste with a smoky and nut based flavour. Although the bread looks overwhelming it’s pleasantly light and compliments the dish well. A definite must try when you visit.

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The drinks menu can’t go unmentioned either with mixture of trendy cocktails, house wines and craft beers made even better with their happy hour offer. Drinks are half price between 4-7pm everyday giving you no excuse but to give them a try. They have all the classics; mojitos and margarita’s alongside current twists on childhood favourites such as The Drumstick.

If the food and atmosphere alone wasn’t enough to encourage you to check out the institute they also have tonnes of events going on throughout the week plus a generous 20 per cent student discount to keep that bank balance happy. On Wednesday’s there’s 2’4’1 on all main meals and since the eatery doesn’t just have vegan food it’s the perfect place to socialise with your friends. Other weekly highlights include Monday’s open mic night and vegan roasts on Sunday’s. There really is something to satisfy anyone here, vegan or not.

Review: Strippd vegan lean protein powder

At a glance, you could be excused for assuming that Strippd Protein is just like any other supplement product out there but the new kid on the block has so much more to offer than just your standard protein.

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For starters, Strippd, is marketed as a luxury product aimed at women of all ages and claims to be different than all the others on the market which are ‘created with the bodybuilding male in mind then popped into a pink tub in the hope of appealing to females.’ Which is why when creating their brand, Strippd, ‘started from scratch’ and created a protein powder that gives women both what they want and what they need.

The powders come in a 490g tub which includes a scoop for measuring out your perfect serving of Strippd. Each tub of lean vegan protein contains 14 servings and there are three flavours available: vanilla, chocolate and mixed berry.

I chose to take a look at the chocolate flavour to see if it could satisfy my cravings and that it did. I’m sure you, like me, know the hardship of trying to find a vegan protein powder that not only does its job but actually tastes nice but this one actually does. Hallelujah! Not just nice either, the powder, when mixed with the recommended 250ml of cold water has an almost creamy taste to it and even better than just that, doesn’t come with the disgusting and off-putting texture I have found in a lot of similar products on the market.

You may have heard a lot of rumours about protein powder supplements and what they can do to your body, my favourite and perhaps one of the most popular being that you shouldn’t take them unless you want to bulk up. Wrong. Protein is what our bodies need to help repair cells and create new ones and it is important we get enough of it. As the most common form of protein is found in meat, fish and dairy products it is more difficult to get the right amount of protein on a plant based diet or if you are lactose intolerant. That’s why protein powders such as this one can be amazing for us as a source of protein.

For those of you looking at taking this supplement to enhance your workout routine it is recommended as a post work out drink, mixed with cold water, around 30 minutes after exercise. This allows the protein to reach your muscles at an accelerated rate and speed up the muscle repair process.

And for those of you just experimenting with the protein powder hype you can add yours to breakfast smoothies or porridge oats for a morning boost. I tried both of these options and I wasn’t disappointed. I felt considerably more alert for longer when I’d had my daily dose of Strippd and even noticed my appetite had been curbed making it easier to resist snacking throughout the day.  The convenience of the shaker and the fact you just take Strippd with water made it so easy to get your protein fix on the go, something else I loved about this product.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not trying to show this powder as the all singing all dancing gift from god product to end all of your dietary woes overnight. Like anything there are some features of this supplement which aren’t as great as others. The size of the tub for example. 490g may sound a lot but with recommended serving sizes of 35g up to 3 times a day you’ll be lucky if one pot lasts you a week. As well as this, more emphasis, I feel, should have been put on what can happen to you if you exceed the recommended intake. Your body can demonstrate laxative effects which you don’t need me to tell you won’t be pretty.

The range of vegan lean protein powders are made of only natural ingredients and are a pea and hemp based protein with natural sweeteners.  Strippd also sell a variety of whey protein powders (not vegan friendly unfortunately) as well as glow capsules, multi vitamins and trim and tone capsules designed to complement their powders. The products are available to buy online directly from their website Stripped-uk.com and at most large Boots stores. The powders retail for £20 per tub with the capsules costing £15.

 

 

Manchester at the heart of vegan protests

MANCHESTER has been the hub for vegan and animal rights activist demonstrations throughout November as the city prepares for a busy festive period.

The group of activists is organised by volunteers via various social media platforms such as Facebook, these people not only feel passionate about the cause, but also invest their time and money into making these events a success. Protesters have been grabbing attention across the region with a string of silent protests with the aim of spreading their views and opinions on animal cruelty, a cause the group feels increasingly passionate about at this time of year. The bustling atmosphere in the town centre makes for the perfect atmosphere in which to reach as many people as possible with their message.

Campaigners took to Market Street on Saturday November 12, to stage a silent protest in which supporters wore white masks and black hoods in an aim to shield their identity and create curiosity around their cause.

The group held up iPads which played videos of brutal animal abuse to enhance awareness and spread the bigger message. The event named: The Earthling’s Experience, also included people handing out flyers providing greater details and chalk written messages on the pavement reading ‘Save a life, go vegan.’ This all took place on one of Manchester’s busiest shopping streets on the opening weekend of the cities ever popular Christmas markets reaching more people and creating more mystery.

An event with a similar aim, organised by the same group set up stalls outside Holland and Barrett in the city centre on Sunday November 20. The gathering was named ‘Awakening Compassion’ and took a more subtle approach to sharing the same message. A casual and relaxed atmosphere was created with a peaceful protest of group members holding placards and offering free coffee cake for anyone wanting a chat, or who could spare the time to watch the three minute video the group want to share. Engaging with people in this way offered a more accessible route to the public.

Mosai Tesoro, 28, is the co-organiser of The Awakening Compassion Stall explained; ‘We work hard to make the stall look engaging and friendly and this results in a positive reaction from the public. The signs have raised people’s intrigue and whether they chose to engage or not it still makes an impression.

Veganism embraces sustainable, healthy and soulful living by rejecting the commodity status of animals. It is the cheapest diet on the planet and we aim to show others how it can be achieved at any age, any budget or any lifestyle.’

She added, ‘awakening compassion is not only our name but also our brand mission. Through research, education and support we aim to help others live their happiest lives.’

 

Manchester’s best alternatives to your regular office party

CHRISTMAS is just around the corner and with that so are Christmas parties. Most companies just opt for a conventional celebration, a meal and drinks but there are more options in Manchester than you may think to spread festive cheer. Here are our top five alternatives to celebrating in a slightly different way this season.

Junkyard Golf Club

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Manchester’s answer to mini golf with a twist has had a Christmas make over. The courses have been decked with festive gear and fresh seasonal cocktails will see you around the holes on a Christmas outing different from the rest. Junkyard Golf has been a huge success since its arrival in Manchester and that’s no different during the Christmas period, with two brand new mash up courses available there something to suit every work team and inject some fun in your festive gathering.

Bookings are essential for large parties and play time can take up to an hour but the party doesn’t stop once all the holes are potted. The golf club is open every day and offers dreamy food at their #junkfoodkiosk serving up seriously tasty post game treats and cocktails to keep the party going.

Hayley, bookings manager at Junk Yard Golf explains, ‘we do get very busy this time of year and tickets sell out quickly. Bookings are important especially for large parties. The majority of our bookings are corporate so we are used to dealing with large parties. To make things easier groups can pre-order food and drinks to make things run smoother on the night.’

Bongo’s Bingo

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This alternative takes on the classic game makes for the perfect Christmas do. Bongo’s bingo has taken the city by storm since its arrival in 2015.

The event is strictly over 18’s and takes place in Manchester’s centrally located Albert Hall, just off Deansgate and takes place every Tuesday. The idea behind the themed nights is to make the game more relevant to a younger generation and that it does. A combination of rave intervals, dance competitions an d buckets of prosecco make for a Christmas party to remember.

The Elf Rave

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Your favourite Christmas film combined with a house party, what better way to celebrate the start of your Christmas break? It’s like a sleep over with your work colleagues only better.

This one off night at Albert Hall promises to offer a memorable evening with a ‘party screening’ of Elf, a festive rave, spaghetti eating competition and a Christmas beer festival and food stall a brilliant combination of all things festive for everyone to enjoy. Fancy dress is optional but festive cheer is guaranteed.

Tickets are still available but limited so be sure to snap them up before they go. They’re available from Albert Hall’s website for £15pp for the event on Saturday 17th December.

Black Dog Ballroom 

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If a private alternative for your office party is more up your street, why not give the Black Dog Ballroom a visit in the Northern Quarter. The private ballroom is free to hire through the week with your very own pool table, bespoke cocktail menu and a private karaoke booth so you can sing to your hearts content.

The room accommodates between 30-80 people and is yours for the night. Food is available so take your chance to eat, drink and be merry.

All Star Lanes

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How about some healthy competition to kick-start your Christmas party, luxury lanes are available for private hire with unlimited bowling, party food and cocktails on tap to increase your team spirit. With access to a retro photo booth for picture perfect memories to last you well past the festive period. With three different themed rooms to choose from we’re all about the alternative Christmas parties to get your adrenaline pumping.

As well as bowling fun, there is an all American diner for you to fill your face, a real change to traditional turkey dinners.

Keeping up with Andrew Lonergan

Once that promising youngster from just round the corner from Deepdale, Andrew Lonergan had the opportunity of a lifetime after leaving school at sixteen. Thrown into the limelight by none other than David Moyes the school boy who dreamed of playing for his hometown got his wish a little earlier than he may have imagined. Now a free agent former Preston and Bolton keeper talks school days, female attention, that goal of a life time and David Moyes.

How did it feel to be sixteen and starting for the football team you’d supported your whole life?

It was weird. Like going from classroom to the pitch almost instantly. Some mornings when I was waking up for training I felt like I had to pinch myself like remind myself it was actually happening that this was my real life. It was strange because all my friends from school were starting college or jobs and there was me putting my boots on. I’d obviously been training with the team and everything but when the lads saw my name as a starter on the team sheet they just couldn’t believe it. It all happened really quickly like I didn’t even have time to think about it. Everyone was chuffed for me my family and friends and that there was no one really there to remind me that I was this 16-year-old local lad who was just chancing his luck every day. It was madness looking back.

Did you notice a lot of people from school wanted to be a part of your success story?

Yeah I think there will always be people like that you know the ones who pipe up out of the woodwork when you’re doing good. All the ‘Hi strangers’ everyone knows the ones. I didn’t even put up with it off lads I was wise to it. I had my mates I knew who my true mates were but with the ladies. I was 16, 17-year-old lad who’d never had that much attention do you know what I mean? Think most lads would have been the same.

Do you think you were too young when you got your start at Preston?

A part of me does think I had my chance a little bit too early yeah and I wasn’t helped out by my own fitness and injuries. I’ve had time now to sit back and really think about my younger days you know what I might have done differently. There were definitely times when the pressure got to me which if I’d had an older head on my shoulders it probably wouldn’t have affected me the same. It’s funny looking back though. I had this opportunity that most lads my age would only ever dream of and I couldn’t even really enjoy it properly because it just didn’t seem like my real life at all. Preston will always have that special place in my heart obviously. It’s my hometown and not only that its where I started my career but I’ve also loved playing everywhere I’ve been I know its cliché but it’s just a dream come true that this is my job. I never take it for granted and I never would.

How did your family feel when you were given your debut?

They were so proud and also just as shocked as I was I think and obviously really supportive with whatever I wanted to do and they still are now my mum is one of those people who always says it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve done your best but that wasn’t really too consoling after a loss. (Laughs) But it was my dream and they knew that so they were never going to be anything but amazing about it all.

What have been your career high and low points?

The highlight of my career was probably that goal against Leicester. It was one of those moments where you just can’t believe it’s actually happened to you. I’d always try and be cheeky and try it in training just a bit of showing off in front of the lads and that but in all seriousness that wasn’t even a shot at all. Like I was stood there thinking did that really just happen. You don’t often get to celebrate like you’ve won the champions league final when you’re a goal keeper so I did milk it in the dressing room after. The lowest was probably getting relegated with the lads. It’s never easy to be the losing team and it never will be but to go down like we did it was the worst feeling. Knowing that you’ve let your team mates and them supporters down was the worst part of it all. A season is a long time so if you start of weak you know there’s time ahead and time to improve on your form. That season it felt like time was running away with us and we didn’t have the chance to catch up with ourselves.

How did you find having to leave Preston?

Of course it was always going to be difficult to leave the club. I had a lot of respect for the team, the staff, the players, the fans I loved everything about the club and still do. It was never going to be easy to part ways but it had to happen for me to progress and for them as well.

Tell me a bit about your relationship with David Moyes, what do you think of his recent managerial ventures?

I have nothing but admiration and respect for the guy. My career could have been very different without him so I owe a lot to him. But aside from that I do think he’s a genuinely great guy with a lot of experience and knowledge about him. He’s top at what he does too. I had the pleasure of working with him again at Everton for a brief spell too so I know him well and he’s a good guy. It was a bit of a car crash waiting to happen United but I think most great managers would have struggled in his circumstances. I did truly feel for him though when he left.

What do you think of Preston’s current success?

It’s great to see them back up there doing well challenging for promotion and back to winning. It’s not been an easy few years for them I know that and I still follow them and watch them when I can obviously its good they’re back where they belong.

 

Free running around your town

WITH almost 2,500 ASBO’s issued in the UK in the past 10 years’ communities across the country are struggling now more than ever to find new and innovative ways to keep youths off the streets. In the North West, park tour and Free Running team ‘Street Monkeys’ are providing an active alternative to more traditional and outdated youth clubs.

Free running, also known as urban acrobatics is described as the art of expressing yourself without limitation of movement and is a skill which requires fantastic athletic ability, strength and composure. The phenomenon has escalated through YouTube and developed into a popular hobby and sporting activity particularly but not exclusively in young boys.

Street Monkey’s was established in 2010 with the simple aim of ‘inspiring young people.’ The team has now gained over 5, 000 likes on Facebook and 2,000 subscribers on YouTube and is growing daily, finding new ways to engage with and appeal to a young audience. The team hold sessions four days a week, some of these are structured, coached sessions and some are freestyle providing a variety for beginners as well as being sure to cater for more experienced free runners.maxresdefault.jpg

Team leader, Sean Delaney says, ‘When I first started out with the Street Monkey’s I’d never have thought that I could help so many kids. Free running is something I have always loved doing and when I was a kid there was never anything quite like this to get involved with. It’s great now to be able to do this as my job and to see all the kids I work with develop and really enjoy what they are doing just as much as I do.

‘It’s far more than just the running and jumping off walls that people seem to think it is. I consider it an art almost and I don’t think there’s enough recognition of sport as an art form. You have to be strong and focused all of the time, it’s not just something anyone could come and do. There are some critics who see this sport as a little bit anti-social but as I’ve said that is down to a lack of awareness of what it is we are doing and what we are all about. It’s almost the exact opposite of what we stand for. We are more than just a team, we’re a community, the team keeps the kids active and doing something they enjoy and I don’t see a thing wrong with that.’

Sean explains there are many benefits in becoming involved with the Street Monkeys and just what can be achieved when young people feel as though they are a part of something. He explains, ‘probably one of the best things about free running is that it isn’t about the competition. It’s not like a game of football where there are winners and losers and people getting aggressive. It’s all about self-improvement and challenging yourself to be the best you can be whilst working as part of a team for each other. I think that’s a really important thing to teach these youngsters, that not everything has to be a competition.’

Earlier this year Street Monkeys opened an academy offering the team the opportunity to work towards training becoming coaches. Sean continues, ‘We opened the academy to give our members even more opportunities. The response has been great to the classes so I just felt the time was right to expand and now I can offer these kids the opportunity to not only do something they enjoy but also work towards something valuable. There are now opportunities in place for more advanced members to train to become coaches to younger classes, working towards qualifications and building their skill-set whilst doing something they are passionate about. I think it’s great.’

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The average age of the team is 16 but due to high demand and interest in what the Street Monkeys have to offer the team last month began structured beginner’s classes for under 12’s. Not only is this bringing in the younger Street Monkeys but also allowing the more senior members to practice their coaching skills.

Sean added, ‘It’s really good for us to get some younger kids involved in the team, the growth we are experiencing is not only good news for us but for the sport as a whole, showing more recognition and promising a bright future ahead.’

The teams YouTube channel features several videos choreographed and edited in the style of music videos showing the creativity and athleticism that goes into free running. This has led to the team being invited to work on a new upcoming project with Sony Music, which leader Delaney describes as ‘a huge opportunity and a big achievement’ for his squad.

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Daniel Worthington, a 16-year-old Street Monkey explains, ‘I never rea;;y enjoyed PE at school and I didn’t really do anything at the weekends apart from watch TV or play Xbox but I joined Street Monkeys a year ago with my friends and now I’ve met some of the best people who will probably be good friends for life.

‘Free running has taught me, in life, don’t rush anything you have all the time in the world and that it’s really important to always remember where your head is. I think it’s important to focus on what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. Don’t even think of failing as an option just get it done and I think like that about everything now. The group have been chatting about a trip abroad next year and it just shows how it’s loads better to be a part of a team rather than standing around on street corners. Street Monkeys has helped me achieve so much in a short amount of time and I just really enjoy what it’s all about.’

Despite the fact that free running is quite unheard of or disapproved by some people it’s hard to argue against the work Sean is putting in with his team and that in doing so he is providing young people in the North West with opportunities they may never have had elsewhere. By introducing free running to younger generations it’s difficult to imagine just what the future may hold in this sport which continues to grow.