Darren Robinson Photography
Dorothy Greaves, star of porch-traits by First Choice Homes Oldham. Image: Darren Robinson Photography


SNAP HAPPY… They might not be the first to do a photos series of people in lockdown in their own homes, but the gallery produced by First Choices Homes Oldham is a particularly lovely example of the genre. Photographer Darren Robinson’s porch-traits for FCHO champion the “wonderfully diverse” town the housing association serves, visiting 27 customers from different backgrounds, often with their families, and pets in tow. The full album can be downloaded on the FCHO website and there is a video on YouTube.

Npp Education 400x214

Northern Powerhouse Partnership says schools are being unfairly punished

DIVERSITY DISASTER… The slow-motion car crash that is the UK government’s handling of coronavirus was served up in full effect to A-Level students on Thursday. The economic impact of the so-called postcode lottery that many fear has caused schools in the South to sail through unaffected while schools in poorer Northern areas of the country saw pupils’ grades downgraded, causing them to miss their expected places at university without the chance to prove themselves in an exam, was not lost on lobby group the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. NPP director Henri Murison was “concerned that the Ofqual algorithm may well have entrenched regional disparities, based largely on the high concentration of long-term disadvantaged students and specifically ethnic groups who often perform less well on average, such as white working class young people, in schools which in a significant number of cases have been improving quickly…We are working to close the educational divide between North and South. The gap in attainment being widened without final examinations being set strikes us as evidence of potential issues with the operation of the algorithm used by Ofqual, which will potentially give grounds for schools in the North to make an additional challenge to current results in the appeals process.”

GONE WALKING… The power of a brisk stroll has been among the surprising pleasures of 2020 as we escape the groundhog day set of home and give our eyes something new to look at. The rich and varied mental and physical health benefits of getting out for a walk are behind The Greater Manchester Way campaign from the mayor’s GM Moving team. The example is given of Claire Walmsley from Trafford, who transformed her life by starting her own mums and babies walking group, Rollers & Strollers (nice touch, ed), that has been nominated for a national award. She said: “Starting a pram-walking group for new parents not long after having my baby may have been a slightly crazy, sleep-deprived idea at the time, but it’s grown into something wonderful.”

Yoko Ono Lennon Centre

Imagine there’s a new concert hall

OH YES… The £22m auditorium at the University of Liverpool’s campus will be named the Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, after “honorary University of Liverpool graduate, campaign ambassador, cultural icon and long-standing philanthropic supporter to the University”. Set to open in late 2021, The Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, designed by Ellis Williams Architects and currently under construction, will house the Tung Auditorium, a 400-seat performance space, and the Paul Brett Lecture Theatre, the largest purpose-built lecture space on campus.

Llandudno Pier Before After Away Resorts

PIER WE GO… Drumming up trade as a holiday company is, well, not always straightforward right now, so hats off to Away Resorts for an irresistibly eye-catching way of drawing people to its website. The holiday parks group has produced a nifty display of before-and-after pictures that you slide back and forth one over the other showing our beloved seaside piers. The glorious Llandudno pier, the longest in Wales, features as does Blackpool Central, rebuilt after a fire in 1973. The UK has lost 42 piers since the 1800s and 61 piers are still standing, celebrate and learn more on the Away Resorts website.

Kingswood Homes Entertain

POWER TOOL… Virtual reality viewings and customisable layouts have been more prominent in apartments and techy modular homes than suburban developments until now. That is starting to change as traditional housebuilders catch on to the trend. Prospective buyers at Kingswood Homes’ Lancashire schemes, The Hollies at Forton, and at Green Hills in Blackburn, can use the Shape Your Home kit to decide on their own interior layout and have their home customised to fit their lifestyle. So maybe an office or a hobby-games room instead of open plan, maybe three en-suite bedrooms instead of five, or a self-contained guest/teenage suite. MD Paul Jones said it’s partly a result of lockdown with people using homes differently, partly a way of genuinely trying to do the best for customers rather than the convenience of the developer.

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They don’t make ’em like Dorothy Greaves anymore…that’s for sure…[heart]…

By North by North-West