“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela from Long Walk to Freedom, 1994
This was the message I woke up to on Saturday 7th September 2013. Maybe “hate” is too strong a word and seemingly inappropriate in this context, but the difference is the same. Unless we deal with the problems and issues brought about by the intolerance to difference in our community, our beloved community will remain lagging behind. When this happens, we are again the very same people to start pointing fingers and apportioning blame. I am different but I belong here. I love where I live and it is my desire to see it flourish and have people living harmoniously. So what am I really blubbing about?
This afternoon, we, the residents of Middleton Estate witnessed the official opening of The New Middleton “social club”. Familiar outward appearance yes, but a great transformation has taken place. I was privileged to meet with the new owner, Dave Jackson. Dave has been working hard, and continues to do so with the help of his friends and family. In an exclusive interview with Dave’s mom who was very much part of the hosting team, I asked her how she was feeling about this adventure and if she had any messages for the local community and here is what she had to say:
“We are excited. I think it’s going to be great as there has not been a community facility that accommodates the entire family; children included. This is a very safe place, with a play area for kids. It’s not exactly a “social club” as there is no committee, no membership or members. We have revised the opening times on Tuesdays to 2pm -11pm. This is in consideration of the ladies and the elderly really as it will be getting darker earlier, in the winter. This place will or is open to every one. Come in and have a look. Someone has already said that this place is a sleeping giant…”
I was gobsmacked. Yes, I was so shocked, that I could not speak. Where was I? Oh, have I mentioned that I was the elephant in the room? Yes I was, but everyone there made me feel that I really belonged there. I felt welcome. I had gone there on assignment. Firstly, with my Volunteer Community Organiser’s cap on. Then secondly, with my South Leeds Life Community Reporter’s cap on. Why? As a genuinely interested community member and to find out what I could do to help promote my community’s initiatives. Enough of that. I am happy that I was able to be part of the big event.
A little bit about The New Middleton:
- the ground floor still accommodates the main bar and seating area with a TV. There is also a room with pool tables; yes, more than 3 at least… A kitchen and classy restaurant area also grace one end of the ground floor.
- the upper floor – now that is TOP class. A multi-purpose function room with a stage, dance-floor, separate bar area and quality seating furniture. It is cosy. I was in there and would not have left if I did not have another community commitment a few streets away!
- the garden has a seating area and is spacious enough to accommodate at least 2 ginormous bouncy castles. On this occasion, there was one bouncy castle up but I could see another one that had not been inflated.
I caught up with another close family member who too, clearly and genuinely, shared in the excitement. She is with child. I could not be happier for her and her better half, Dean. She proudly told me how Dean is such a big part in this project as he is so passionate about kids. My interviewee expressed that sense of security about the place as she reiterated that there is always child supervision when kids are playing around. I learnt that among the currently missing social activities in Middleton, The New Middleton will bring back the Santas, Halloween nights, Casino nights. In short, they aim to bring the community back together, by helping local businesses and holding Charity Fundraising events.
This revelation was expanded on by Dave – the owner, who added this:
“Saturday evenings and nights are going to be busier with activities including musical live shows, and games like bingo. Upstairs accommodation will be opened between 6pm-11pm on the particular nights. The idea is to bring the community back to what it used to be. Ages ago? 10-15 years ago.”
Zoe Mitchell provided face-painting, a cake stall among a lot of other activities that were available to make this family fun-day a success.
I will not have done the day’s summary enough justice if I do not mention Janice Berry and her “accomplice” who I caught up with in the kitchen. These were the lovely ladies behind the burgers and hot-dogs. They share between them wonderful memories working in the club in different capacities in the past. However, on this occasion, they were happily helping out with the launch of the Jackson Family-run “family-oriented” venture.
Such is the latest in community-led development initiatives in Middleton. Let us all support what is good and make our community a better place. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I will say it again – “Change begins with us” and Dave Jackson has just upped that. Let’s rally behind him and many others following in his steps. Make your way to The New Middleton and see for yourself. It is such a magnificent place and let us help Dave wake up the sleeping giant! Come on Miggy – exotic themed events at our new club / pub? Anyone?
Coming to you shortly:
- Ladies Night – Saturday 21st September 2013
- Boxing event – Friday 18th October 2013
In the meantime, for further details and information on this exciting development and upcoming events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The New Middleton Facebook page is currently under construction.
All photographs taken and published with parental and individual consent. Thank you all for making yesterday a success. Now, sit back and enjoy the day in a slide-show: