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Festive success for talented New Centre stage performers

Talented members of a unique Sefton drama company scored a seasonal success with their ambitious festive production this week.

The Spirit of Christmas, presented by New Centre Stage, was the first show to be staged in the group’s new studio theatre at its HQ in the David Brown Centre, Magdalen Square in Netherton.

The production featured a large cast of more than 25 performers with support needs from across the borough who belong to the group, which is run by Sefton’s leading adult social care provider, New Directions.

The show took as its theme the age-old question – what really is the true meaning of Christmas?

In a bid to get to the bottom of this question in the play, each member of a fictional family explained what the festive season means to them, with the help of song-and-dance support from members of the cast.

New Centre Stage Christmas production

The answer was revealed at the end of the production, but only after the audience had been treated to a hugely entertaining series of scenes based on classic Christmas stories from the nativity to Dickens and Cinderella.

The Spirit of Christmas was directed by New Centre Stage Co-ordinator Vicky Bennett with colleagues Denise Airey, Veronica Morrison and Pam Pickford.

It was the latest in a series of successful productions from the group, the most recent being The Wizard of Oz in the summer.

Members are now looking forward to performing with the In Another Place Gospel Choir and at the Feelgood Factory Christmas fayre in the coming weeks.

Vicky Bennett commented: “The Spirit of Christmas was another outstanding success for the members of our group, who came up with many ideas for the production themselves during our initial discussions.

“Once again, the show in its final form was the result of many weeks of hard work by the cast, and I would like to thank them all for their input and their commitment.

“As well as being a thoroughly entertaining evening, I hope the show provided audiences with some food for thought as we prepare to celebrate this very special time of year,” added Vicky.

Get your skates on – Southport is well and truly set for Christmas!

Southport is well and truly set for Christmas!

Southport’s amazing new 60 foot digital Christmas tree is lit, the town centre streets are lined with decorations and the  open-air ice skating rink is now  frozen and ready for skaters!

The ice skating rink in the Town Hall gardens is set to open today (December 7) and is organised as part of a partnership  between Southport BID and Sefton Council and will be at the heart of the town’s Christmas activity.

Winter chalets will be selling festive food and drink in the gardens and the tree’s amazing light show can be viewed from  both the outside and inside of the impressive structure.

Visitors and residents can skate beneath the tree from as little as £4.50 and enjoy a magical Christmas experience,  making  memories with friends and family.

Throughout the festive period businesses across Southport will host various themed events including lunch with Santa,  grottos and the ‘Dear Santa’ production at The Atkinson.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member, Regeneration and Skills, said: “The skating rink is back due to its popularity last year. It really puts Southport on the map as a leading Christmas destination and gives both  residents and visitors a wonderful festive experience when in the town.

“As well as supporting local businesses by shopping whilst here, visitors can also enjoy seasonal fare in the town’s restaurants and bars.

“Local businesses really benefit from the increased footfall to the town throughout December and the skating rink, Christmas tree and food and drink chalets make the Town Hall gardens the hub of Christmas.

“We are also actively encouraging local schools to get involved by offering a discount for group bookings.”

Hugh Evans, Southport BID CEO also added “The BID funded ice rink last year was hugely popular and we are extremely pleased to be bringing it back in partnership with Sefton Council.

“We wanted to make Christmas a great season in Southport, starting with the switch on. Centred around the new tree and its light display which we have entirely funded, the open-air rink will be something new for Southport and provide a real draw to the town centre in the build up to Christmas.”

You can book a skating session in advance by visiting www.visitsouthport.com. Tickets can also be bought on the day but are on a first come first served basis so it’s best to buy as early as possible online.

 

Dear Santa – Live at The Atkinson

Dear Santa, the festive family show brings to life the book from the author of the well-loved children’s book DEAR ZOO, Rod Campbell.

It comes to The Atkinson on Wednesday 12 December until Saturday 19 December.

Santa is determined to deliver the most fantastic Christmas present to our little hero Sarah. But he doesn’t get it right straight away! With the help of his cheeky Elf, he finally settles on something ‘perfect’, just in time for Christmas Eve.

All the ingredients of Rod Campbell’s ingeniously simple and charming style are brought to life on stage, plus a whole lot more… with music, laughter and plenty of audience participation.

Plus.. you can meet Santa himself and after the show and each child will receive a small gift!

A perfect introduction to theatre for those aged 2 to 7 years old, DEAR SANTA is a Christmas present children and parents alike will never forget. 55 minutes.

Watch the Dear Santa trailer: https://youtu.be/Jf9I8DTMhnk

Ticket are £12.50 / £45 family – to book call Box Office on 01704 53333 or by book online at https://www.theatkinson.co.uk/events/dear-santa/

*School price: £10.50 per pupil / teacher’s go free.

*Available to book in at Box Office and over the phone 01704 533 333 only.

Then in February half term, as part of Kidsfest we bring you the Rod Campbell classic – Dear Zoo. Thursday 19 – Wednesday 22 February.  Want to know more visit https://www.theatkinson.co.uk/events/kidsfest-2019/

Visit the website theatkinson.co.uk and join our mailing list to keep up to date with the full programme of events coming to the venue soon.

New Sefton base for Police Community Support Officers

A team of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) from Merseyside Police has moved in to a new base at Magdalen House as part of Sefton Council’s move to locality-based working.

PCSOs Emma Cooke, Anthony Holden and Helen Holt will work from the ground floor of Magdalen House alongside a range of council services focusing on early intervention and prevention.

Magdalen House PCSOs Emma Cook Anthony Holden and Helen Holt

This way of working will allow the council and its partners to share information, resources and data more collaboratively. The PCSO team will also be able to work from agile suites at Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall.

Formerly based at Marsh Lane Police Station in Bootle, the PCSO’s relocation to Magdalen will see them collaborate with colleagues across the council to help children, families and vulnerable adults in Sefton tackle problems at an early stage.

Their immediate focus will be to identify people who regularly contact Sefton Council and Merseyside Police for help.

Emma Cooke, who has served as a PCSO for 10 years, says the team are already seeing the benefits of working at Magdalen House after moving in eight weeks’ ago.

PCSO Cooke said: “It’s great to be part of a big team and be able to share information immediately with partners. The aim of the Early Help plan is to work together to help our communities become more resilient, and having a base at Sefton Council means we take a more joined-up approach.

“Everyone at Sefton has been really welcoming and we are looking forward to getting to know everyone in the different teams.”

PCSO Helen Holt said the move will help all partners focus on the needs of local partners and communities more cohesively. She said: “Working together will help us identify areas of demand and allow us to share that information quickly with teams at Sefton Council.

“We’ll be able to cooperate and offer a service that is structured, focussed and tailored to the needs of the community.”

Anthony Holden, who has served as a PCSO for three years, says he is enjoying being in the new environment and is looking forward to closer partnership working. He said: “We already feel at home in Magdalen and it’s great to working with colleagues at Sefton as part of a ‘one-team’ approach.

“We hope our work will help reduce demand and allow us all to work smarter together for the benefit of individuals and families across Sefton.”

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said:” This move will really help us work as one team with partner agencies, to share resources and information to make us more resilient and effective.

“Having the PCSOs in Magdalen House means we can easily work together to help vulnerable people across Sefton, getting them help at an early stage to prevent their problems from escalating and ensuring they are well supported.”

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Bus Alliance Provide Free Bus Tickets to Foodbanks

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will announce that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, along with bus operators Arriva and Stagecoach, will provide 3000 bus tickets – 500 for each of its six local authority areas – for the city region’s foodbanks to use to help those with the greatest transport needs.

The announcement comes ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside Derby, as Fans Supporting Foodbanks are calling for more support for the city region’s foodbanks, which are dealing with unprecedented demand.

Fans Supporting Foodbanks is a unique partnership between Everton Supporters’ Trust and Spirit of Shankly, who have come together to tackle foodbank shortages.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “As the UN special rapporteur Philip Alston said earlier this month, this country’s foodbanks are acting as a safety net, literally saving people living in abject poverty from starving to death. It is an affront to common decency that this should be the case in the fifth richest country in the world, but while this is the reality we will support those committed volunteers who provide this service across our city region.

“This weekend the whole city region is coming together to support our foodbanks and I am proud that we are playing our part by making 3000 bus tickets available across all six of the city region’s local authority areas. It’s heart-breaking that we should have to do this but this is a duty that we cannot shirk.”

Half of the cost of the 3000 bus tickets will be paid for by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, with the other half paid for by Arriva and Stagecoach. The tickets will be distributed to foodbanks across the city region, who will distribute them, at their discretion, to clients with the greatest transport needs.

Howard Farrall, managing director, Arriva Merseyside, commented: “Christmas can be a very difficult time of year for many and so it is more important than ever to reach out and help those in need. We’re proud to be supporting this initiative and hope to make things easier for those looking to travel to food banks around the Liverpool City Region.”

Rob Jones, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside, Cheshire and South Lancashire, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Metro Mayor and our city partners to provide free bus tickets to make it easier for people living in poverty to get around. We know access to transport is vital and helps to connect communities and enable people to take up opportunities they may not otherwise be able to.

As an Everton Football Club sponsor, we already work closely with the Club and their charitable arm, Everton in the Community as well as supporting a range of charities and community organisations across the city region, and it’s wonderful to see that the spirit of community is so alive in our city.”

Dave Kelly, Chair of Fans Supporting Foodbanks, said: “We applaud Steve Rotheram for his actions and for his help, advice and support.

“The impact of austerity and the migration over to Universal Credit on the 5th of December will have a profound effect on the most vulnerable people within our communities.
“Our statistics indicate that on average a Foodbank user will have a six-mile round trip to collect a three-day emergency supply of food.”

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