Manchester one love

15:21 15/06/2017 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | 2 Comments

When a major disaster like the Manchester attacks happen, freelance journalists get phone calls from people they have never worked for before.

I got one from cosmopolitan.com.

They wanted a piece detailing the experiences of young women caught up in the bombing.

You can read it here.

It was a humbling experience which gave me an insight into the trauma, and the courage needed to cope.


Also for Cosmo, I did a photo essay on the concertgoers who braved fears of another terror attack to attend Manchester’s One Love concert – held barely a fortnight later.

It was great to be there.







15:37 26/04/2017 Posted in Blog, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

Just a gorgeous, very touching experience interviewing Maxine, 85, and her daughter for the Alzheimer’s Society magazine.

A brilliant poet, Maxine’s dementia means she cannot perform even the most simple tasks.

Yet with just a little prompting, the words came tumbling out.

Picture courtesy of Mark Pinder.


fashion forward

21:38 08/10/2015 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

It’s really fantastic to see that GMB have launched a dedicated campaign to get workers to start demanding decent conditions and pay at the ASOS warehouse in Barnsley.

I first wrote about this issue back in 2013 in both Equal Times and Big Issue in the North; earlier this year it was also in Vice.

GMB union have now started holding recruitment drives outside the warehouse – more info here.

Both the Mail and Mirror have run the story.

When your journalism makes a difference, it keeps you going.


charity begins at home

21:09 08/10/2015 Posted in Blog, publications, Writing | Leave a comment

Always great to work with Smoke Creatives on Here, the Shelter supporter mag.

They sent me to one of Shelter’s furniture shops in Birmingham. I was delighted to discover that six members of the same family – over three generations – work and volunteer in the shop, reflecting the dedication that Shelter inspires.


I have a voice

13:27 10/08/2015 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

It was a privilege to interview Sarah Wilson, a survivor of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal who has waived her anonymity to speak out about her experiences.

An extremely strong and unbelievably brave individual.

The piece is out in this week’s Big Issue in the North.

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socially housed

12:34 10/08/2015 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

I’ve been a busy bee working with Inside Housing, writing a couple of supplements – the first about procurement, the second off-site construction…..

I also covered the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference, writing features about both the Social Value Act and the ways in which the housing sector uses social media.



urban stretch

12:16 10/08/2015 Posted in Blog, publications, Writing | Leave a comment


Lots of updates due……latest piece for Waterfront, the Canal & River Trust mag, was a lovely day spent with Birmingham photographer Andrew Jackson asking the good people of the Midlands why they love their canals.


riots update

15:04 03/03/2015 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

During my time covering the riots of 2011 for the Guardian’s Reading the Riots project, I was tasked with interviewing defence lawyers for their views about the harsh sentences handed out to rioters.

All of them expressed concern about the length and manner in which sentences were handed out; the fact bail was routinely refused; and that magistrates seemed to be playing to the press gallery, making examples of individual defendants to score political points.

There were high profile critics of sentences at the time. Leading criminal barrister John Cooper QC said they were ‘over the top’, while former chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Paul Mendelle QC, said sentences were too long and harsh.

Yet politicians justified them, saying that the circumstances were extraordinary – and that rioters needed to ‘understand the consequences’ of their actions.

A recent report from Manchester University, however, confirms the view of those I interviewed at the time as well as critics of the courts’ approach.

By analysing data, they have shown that the sentences were ‘excessive and arbitrary’ – and say the justice system acted like ‘Judge Dredd’

My report for the Big issue in the North is below. Read a version for Equal Times here.

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‘our language is fighting for survival’

20:38 28/01/2015 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment


A fascinating debate – as Welsh slowly declines as a community language, should Welsh speakers be given preferential treatment on housing waiting lists? And should private developments be halted if they are unaffordable for locals?

Inspiring Change

17:23 05/08/2014 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

All too often, when I’ve interviewed ex-offenders, drug addicts and rough sleepers, they seem to be suffering as much from society’s inability to listen to their needs as they do from the consequences of their own actions.

So I was excited to learn more about a project – Inspiring Change Manchester – that aims to put those it helps at the heart of what it does.


At Inspiring Change Manchester, ex-service users act as peer mentors; interview staff; advise on service design; and will eventually become employees themselves.

The project is part of a £112 million national programme to change the way society thinks about how it treats its most vulnerable and chaotic members.

By including them in decisions made about their lives, it is hoped services will not only become more practically effective – but will also empower clients to really change.

The piece is due to appear in the next edition of Here, Shelter’s supporter magazine.





more from inside housing

17:00 05/08/2014 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

In between training people and organising events, I’ve also been fitting in some pieces…… a trio from Inside Housing, on housing awards and a new job swap scheme.

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after a fashion

21:10 14/04/2014 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

Latest from Inside Housing – a feature about how and why a Merseyside housing association is funding local apprenticeships.

after a fashion

and another – how Greater Manchester housing associations are uniting to fight crime….


fashion fail

11:42 18/12/2013 Posted in Blog, Writing | Leave a comment

ASOS is a huge success story. With over 13 million registered users, the online fashion outlet is set to turn over £1billion by 2015.

But my investigation into working conditions at the factory told a very different picture to the glossy, trendy image the company portrays.

To read my Big Issue in the North piece, click here. This piece also appears in Equal Times.

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north yorkshire

13:43 19/11/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | Leave a comment

The final piece in my austerity series for the Big Issue in the North – this time, on North Yorkshire.

To read the full article, click here.

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‘it’s a constant worry’

22:05 22/10/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | Leave a comment


Some pictures from a recent trip to North Yorkshire for the final piece in my Big Issue in the North series on austerity, to run over the next three weeks.

I’ve revisited three areas – the others being Stoke and Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire – for an update on how they have fared since I first visited to see the impact of cuts in 2011.

North Yorkshire is richer and more resilient. Yet a growing elderly and increasingly vulnerable population will sadly bear the brunt of cuts, which are focusing on care services and rural transport. Services have already disappeared.

I first met Christine Harker, above, on a bus in 2011. She epitomises the flinty spirit of the Dales. But without her weekly link to the outside world, she would be lost.

“We have never been without a service – but now we don’t know whether we will have a service. It’s a worrying thing for old people. The majority of them don’t have families, while some of them have families that live a long way away.”


Sheila Robinson, 87, still lives in the picturesque rented row of cottages she did when I first met her  in 2011. She is a full-time carer for her daughter, who has learning difficulties and mental health problems.

She, too, is concerned about what the future brings. “When you are told that things are going to change it’s a constant worry.”

Volunteers are rallying around to preserve services. But when you are dealing with the most vulnerable people, living in some of the most remote areas of England, it feels like a real risk to run services on goodwill.

other writing

21:54 21/02/2013 Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

I’ve written Manchester A-Z guides for airline magazines; spent a night on the beat in Liverpool to see how their police work for Specials magazine; covered the latest issues in journalism for The Journalist magazine; and written about regeneration in Manchester for Gay Times.

I’ve also provided housing content for youth information site The Site, covered labour issues for Equal Times, written about the development of children’s apps, and explored the new Roma community of Manchester for the Black Health Agency.

I’ve written for the professional magazines of the Royal Photographic Society, Shelter, and the Canal and River Trust.

I’ve done syndication news, editing and writing shifts at all Manchester local papers, written features and a series of health-related articles for the Manchester Evening News, and news for Manchester Confidential.

I also worked as a researcher on a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Exit Strategy: Choosing A Time to Die. I do shifts as a broadcast journalist at BBC Radio 5 Live.

I’ve carried out media relations for Church Action on Poverty, securing coverage in the Guardian, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Manchester and all the major church press.

I’ve also completed a series of copywriting projects for the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms schools project, architecture firms, and Manchester City Council.





special apps





inside housing

20:50 21/02/2013 Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

I have been a freelance contributor to respected social housing weekly Inside Housing since 2010.

I have written on subjects as diverse as housing advice for sex workers; tenants’ rights; social enterprise support; tower blocks for the elderly; social housing-funded academies; safety standards, youth exchanges, job swaps, and the protection of the welsh language.

the guardian

20:02 29/11/2012 Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

I have worked as a freelance reporter for the Guardian, covering the North of England.

I reported on the August 2011 riots in Salford, Manchester and Liverpool, subsequently reporting on riot-related court cases. I have also covered general news shifts, travelling from Stoke to Yorkshire.

I was also a senior researcher in the Guardian and London School of Economics Reading the Riots research project, established in the wake of the riots to understand the causes of the disorder.

Visiting Bristol, Liverpool, Salford and Manchester, I gathered first-hand accounts of the riots from those involved, as well as victims, community workers, businesses, politicians, solicitors, youth workers, and probation officers.

The research was published as a series of features, articles, and case studies in the newspaper and online.

It helped formed the basis of a wide-ranging research study by the London School of Economics.

Visit www.guardian.co.uk/readingtheriots or http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/helen-clifton to read more.


the big issue in the north

10:22 08/10/2012 Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

I have been working as a regular freelancer for the Big Issue in the North since 2007.

I’ve written a huge variety of news and feature articles for the magazine, on subjects including archaeology, town hall cuts, mental health services, arts council funding, and homelessness provision.

In addition, I’ve contributed travel pieces about Spain and Tunisia, profiled dozens of vendors, and have also covered edited the magazine. My photographs regularly appear alongside my writing.

Below is a small selection of features written.




13:43 12/02/2012 Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

In January 2011, I was commissioned by the Big Issue in the North to document the effects of austerity-driven cuts throughout the North of England.

As part of this, I investigated how the axe was falling in city of Stoke; the forming mining town of Goldthorpe, in south Yorkshire; and the rural communities of North Yorkshire.

I revisited all three areas two years on, in 2013, to see what the long-term impact of austerity was.

The North Yorkshire update piece is here, Goldthorpe here – and Stoke is here.