Faces from across the city give their hopes for 2024
2023 saw a busy year for our great city.
The Manchester International Festival took its first steps in its new home, Aviva Studios; the Bee Network was rolled out, enabling Manchester to become the only city outside London to manage its own public transport; Manchester City achieved an historic treble, making Manchester the only city home to two treble-winning sides anywhere in Europe; and Chanel strutted into town with its Metiers D'art show turning the Northern Quarter into the centre of haute couture for a few days.
As 2024 begins, we ask people from across the city for their one wish for the new year.
Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council
"2023 was a great year for Manchester, one which saw us go from strength to strength and cement ourselves as a truly global city. From the opening of a new cultural icon in Aviva Studios, to hosting major conferences and cultural and sporting events it has been a year to remember.
"Alongside this we are open about our challenges; we continue to work on improving Manchester, ensuring that it continues to grow and that all of its residents are able to share in the prosperity that it will bring. From investing in local neighbourhoods right across the city, from Wythenshawe to Moston, to our Making Manchester Fairer programme which aims to reverse and prevent generational poverty and inequality, to building more social and genuinely affordable homes, we are determined to make sure that Manchester is a city where everyone can thrive.
"My wish for 2024 is for us to do more and keep building a better Manchester. To build on the city’s success, to expand more opportunities for our residents, to keep extending a helping hand to those who need it. Our plans are on the right track, but we need a government that works with us, with the right policies to tackle our structural problems like housing, homelessness, the cost of living crisis and transport. A government that, like us, puts everyday people first."
Neil Burke, Managing Director, The Black Friar
"My wish would be that the people who say 'they’ve not made it to The Blackfriar' make the effort in 2024 - and that there is ceasefire in Gaza."
Elaine Griffiths, CEO, Gorton Monastery
"My wish for 2024 is for peace to be found within everyone and shared everywhere.
"As we bear witness to deeply troubled times for so much of humanity - globally and within our communities, we all wish that there could be more peace in the world, and our hearts go out to all who are suffering or struggling. Beyond wishing and showing support for humanitarian causes - we can reflect and take personal action.
"How can we bridge the gap between the difficult reality of current events, and our own capacity for peace, love and truth? To build a world where our differences and diversity are celebrated and bring us together, instead of being used as a means to divide us and cause conflict? My wish for 2024 is for us all to remember that we can create peace first within ourselves.
"To choose peace, love, forgiveness in our minds, our hearts and then putting this into words and actions (in person or online!) that cause great ripples of peace and light into our families, friends, communities and beyond to the wider world. If we each choose to take responsibility for finding peace within ourselves and ‘being’ peace in our day to day, one by one we will bring more peace to the world and the light will dispel the darkness."
Jenny Mollica, Interim CEO, English National Opera
"My one wish for the New Year is to see the English National Opera and Greater Manchester dream big about what a new home for our opera company in the city region could look like as we start building a shared future together. For me, this will include developing an exciting and bold array of new partnerships across the city region from January 2024 onwards, in areas including performance, health, vocational training and education.
"For me, 2024 is the beginning of a big, ongoing conversation with Greater Manchester, discovering how the ENO and opera can make a difference for Greater Manchester’s residents and communities. I can’t wait to start that adventure with local partners and audiences as we create a bright new future together."
Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum
“My wish for 2024 already feels as though it’s happening! The museum sits at the heart of an area in Manchester that’s undergoing a real transformation. Alongside Factory International’s Aviva Studios, the National Trust’s Castlefield Viaduct and Landmark Trust’s Station Agent’s House – part of our historic estate that’s being restored and transformed into a unique holiday let – the museum is helping to bring to life a new cultural quarter in Castlefield. Right now it’s a building site, and a bit of a mess, but it’s going to be amazing! This is a place that changed world history and it’s so exciting to see it evolving and opening up to new visitors and communities.
“2024 will also see our own multi-million-pound regeneration project enter a new phase when work begins to restore and repair the roof of our New Warehouse building and our cobbled yards. We’ll be staying open throughout, hosting a programme packed full of world-class exhibitions, events and experiences; so don’t be deterred by the scaffolding! Alongside all the great work being done by our neighbours, this will ensure future generations of Mancs and visitors continue to be inspired by our fantastic city and its stories.”
Judy Vickers, Operations Manager at Lifeshare
"My one wish for 2024 is that people treat each other with kindness. We host our breakfast for rough sleepers every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and so many of our guests report that this is the first hot meal, the first shower, or even the first conversation they've had all week. The project provides physical support but the mental and emotional impacts of this safe space are becoming more and more clear as our numbers rise. We see easily 300 faces each weekend, many of them facing complex issues, but they look forward to coming down for a brew and a chat and to feel a sense of community.
"Many people don't understand the knock on effects of projects like ours, to help people feel looked after in all sorts of ways. Although our costs are more than four times what they were just two years ago, we know that our work and that of our volunteers has never been more needed. If people can show kindness and empathy to each other in these difficult times then that would be a place to start. Whether it's by volunteering your time, donating a meal, or giving your empathy and having a chat with someone struggling, when we all do small things, those efforts join up to do more!"
Bob Riley, CEO, Manchester Camerata
“This year a carer we work with proclaimed that 'Camerata has given me back my confidence', whilst an audience member remarked 'I genuinely think that’s the best gig I’ve ever seen'. We’re so grateful for the incredible impact our players can make. My hopes and dreams are that we can bring more of this to our fabulous city in 2024”
Jack Fields, Chef Patron, Restaurant Orme
"My wish is for the Manchester food scene to really continue to thrive! We have such an amazing scene of restaurants, pubs - the lot - all around the city and surrounding areas, with very exciting new openings coming in the new year. It's amazing to see Manchester become a real foodie powerhouse and long may it continue, and for us Mancs to hopefully get a bit of recognition!
"Personally, I just want to keep getting better as a restaurant, I want us to improve every day in all aspects of what we offer - the food, the drink, the service - and for people to continue to come from far and wide to really show what we can offer in our little leafy suburban corner of our amazing city."
Darren Cormack, Chief Executive Officer, Mines Advisory Group
"My wish this year is the same as every year – for the work of our 6,500 colleagues across the world to come to an end because we have finally rid the world of the lethal landmines and unexploded ordnance left behind after the guns have fallen silent.
"I know that isn’t going to happen overnight, however, so what I particularly wish for this New Year is an end to the suffering and trauma being endured by ordinary people in Gaza, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine – all places afflicted by the most terrible conflict and all places where it is civilians who are paying the highest price."
Jo Walby, Chief Executive Officer, Mustard Tree
"My one wish for 2024 is PEACE.
"Peace internationally and an end to conflicts around the world. Our mission is to combat poverty and prevent homelessness – conflict causes homelessness and poverty and we have seen considerable increases in people needing refuge and help from war-torn areas including desperate families and young children.
"Peace in the UK through more responsible, kinder politics focussing on a common vision for a fairer, more compassionate society and move away from divisive policies – hopefully the General Election will bring an opportunity to reset and refocus on building opportunities for all.
"Peace of mind for the 1 in 3 Greater Manchester residents who are financially vulnerable (according to GMCA report, September 2023) because it is not acceptable for children to be hungry, people to be living on the streets and Greater Manchester to be poorer than most of the country (1 in 4 for rest of the UK).
"So, my wish for 2024 is peace and goodwill to ALL people – with love from all of us at Mustard Tree."
And finally, John McAuliffe, Poet, Associate Publisher at Manchester-based Carcanet Press, and Professor of Poetry at University of Manchester, with a poem on his wish 'that we get to keep going in 2024'.
THE FIRE OFFICER
The alarm, on our top floor, going off and you putting on your coat and with your computer
in your weekend bag already, but stopping at the door to tell me:
‘you are not supposed to take anything’
as I move from the front desk computer
to Accounts, to the server room, formerly the reviews and editorial room,
looking for that other book to take home for the break, the unopened one.
Then it stopped, the alarm, before we’d even gotten into the lift
(the lift something else we were not supposed to take) to the street,
and we walked back to our desks and books and end-of-year correspondence,
the silence echoing as if we had indeed died and gone to heaven
while rain poured down outside on Cross Street
on an ordinary afternoon in December, 2023.
Our warmest thanks to all our contributors and, of course, to Confidentials readers for their continued support.
Happy New Year and we wish you a prosperous 2024.