Manchester’s growing homeless shame


The city I live in has a homeless problem. So many of our cities do – but for Mancunians, it’s been getting worse for years.

I went out for a walk around the city’s famed St Ann’s Square and was told; “Those living on the streets here have doubled in the last two years.”

It’s difficult to look these people in the face and then go home to our comfortable lives, but thousands of us do it every day.

I wrote this for the New Statesman: A picturesque square’s nighttime secret: “There are just so many homeless people now”



Tory transport chaos bites up North

people-1834324_1920Stories about train delays are nothing new, but the Northern Rail issues of the summer have taken on a life of their own, above and beyond the usual ‘bad commute’ anecdotes.

Amid rising fares and falling customer satisfaction, a new timetable was introduced, and three months later, chaos still reigned.

I spoke to people for the New Statesman whose working lives had been overturned by the terrible service: Life on the Northern Rail frontline: “I was forced to quit my job by the nightmare commute”


Life on Manchester’s burning moors

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Out of control wildfires are less a part of life in the North of England than some parts of the world.

But the 2018 heatwave brought a blaze to Saddleworth and surrounding moorlands outside Manchester which devastated nature and caused residents to evacuate for their safety.

The story I wrote for the New Statesman was picked up in the BBC Radio 4 Today programme news round-up. Here it is: Life on the burning moors: “It’s frightening going to bed unsure what you’ll wake up to”

The UK women living without choice

womens-march-2004278_1920I spent my schooldays in Northern Ireland, and was always proud to be from the country.

Times change, and now I have no reason to go to the Province anymore – but I was still horrified like most British women by the country’s reticence to grant women the power over their own bodies that the rest of the UK has.

Especially now even our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland have ‘repealed the 8th’.

“Our bodies are governed by a piece of law which pre-dates the lightbulb,” one woman told me for the New Statesman.

Read the piece here: “Sent to the mainland”: how Northern Irish women suffer under restrictive abortion laws


Manchester divided – 100 days on from the Arena Bombing

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Making Manchester my home was an easy decision – it’s an open, free and culturally enriched city, packed with history, social change and a load of different races and religions.

But when the Arena bomb hit on May 22, it left a massive wound in the heart of the inclusive society I had loved.

With increasing animosity towards Muslims following the deaths of the 22 – at the hands of Salman Abedi – I spoke to people in Manchester who have seen the change for the New Statesman.

Sinead O’Connor’s desperation as tabloid clickbait


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A celebrity figure who is struggling with a mental health issue has become fair game for the gutter press, and there’s nothing that one particular publication won’t do, it seems.

Using a gif of a heartbreaking video, the Mail Online showed that Bedlam – the place where members of the public gathered to point and stare at those who were living in a prison of madness – is alive and well – and online.

I wrote about this for the New Statesman here.

Oliver Stone: ‘Putin Interviews show there are two sides to every story”

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The bête noire of the establishment, a thorn in the side of traditional Hollywood, or a left-leaning polemiscist who doesn’t let facts bother him…?

Whatever your view of Oliver Stone, the filmmaker has been marching to the beat of his own drum for decades.

And the release of Showtime series, The Putin Interviews, worked well to reintroduce him to a controversial world.

When I spoke to him, he was brawling and bristling in tone, but gave a standard account of himself: if you take an opinion of him into the room, you’d better be prepared to back it up.

This is by me, for the New Statesman.


The men who walked on the Moon talk about the ‘blackness of space’



The Starmus Festival in Norway is an annual celebration of the music and science which grips its founder, Garik Israelian.

But the matter of the moonwalkers surely grips all of us – men who have left our planet and had the adventure of a lifetime.

This Getty image says all you need to know about the lives of those true explorers.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was on Apollo 11, Charlie Duke was on Apollo 16 and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was an Apollo 17 moonwalker.

And they all got together (Buzz onscreen from home, due to illness) to talk about the trials and lessons of the trip – to me, for the New Statesman.

Fear on the streets the morning after the Manchester Arena bombing


A couple of decades after the IRA bombing, a Manchester resident struck at the heart of the city’s innocence and culture – blowing himself up in the Arena during a pop concert.

With 22 dead – the terrorist Salman Abedi also – the city the day after was not quite in mourning yet, simply living in shock.

I spoke to people in the streets who were there in body, but with worries and thoughts miles away, telling me “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”.

I wrote this for the New Statesman.

Helping the homeless get a better deal in Manchester

Manchester is my adopted home. It’s been so good to me and my family, and I am continually thrilled at the friendly nature of those who live and work in such a massive city.

But there’s something rotten at the core of the community: homelessness.


There are hundreds across the region who have no home to go to, and a shocking proportion of them even sleep on the streets, many taking drugs to get through.

It was heartening when the London-based homeless charity Centrepoint told me that they were intending to tackle the use of the drug ‘spice’ amongst 16-25 year olds.

It might be a small step, but it’s one on the right direction. You can read the piece on Lovin Manchester here.