Long reads about people, communities, issues and more.

Opinion: my experience of a Calais refugee camp

Opinion: my experience of a Calais refugee camp

by Lewis MacLean. Immigration is a contentious issue for some and wishy-washy for others. In reality, things never change for the refugees themselves. After years of the press reporting on desperate immigrants losing their lives when attempting to cross the Mediterranean, the English Channel is now the focus. The result is a steep rise in 
Southampton’s Speakers’ Corner

Southampton’s Speakers’ Corner

by Martin Brisland. Did you know that Southampton has its own Speakers’ Corner? It is located in Hoglands Park, the second largest of our Central Parks. Situated near the former Debenhams store it is complete with dias and railings. Today people use social media to voice their opinions. The current Southampton Speakers’ Corner was rarely
Facing fines and deregistering children – not all parents agree that schools are ‘covid safe’

Facing fines and deregistering children – not all parents agree that schools are ‘covid safe’

by Sally Churchward. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that every child should be in school. But many parents are choosing to face fines by keeping their children at home or deregistering them. Could the government’s hardline approach to getting children back to school backfire, with parents being forced to choose between the best
Southampton’s new online music archive

Southampton’s new online music archive

Stick It In Your Ear (SIIYE) has just launched an online archive of  local music originally recorded on originally recorded on reel to reel tapes and published on cassette in the 1980s. Southampton-based SIIYE started life in the 1980s as a magazine, rather like a catalogue, that described and gave details about cassette releases from
From The Beatles to War Horse: Southampton’s Mayflower theatre has been at the heart of entertainment in the south for more than 90 years

From The Beatles to War Horse: Southampton’s Mayflower theatre has been at the heart of entertainment in the south for more than 90 years

by Martin Brisland. Did you know that the Mayflower, built in 1928, has one of the largest auditoriums in England with more than 2,300 seats and used to have a tea garden on the roof! In the late 1920s the Moss Empire theatre group built six 2,000 seater venues, including Southampton. The style used was
Matchgirl strikes: women unite and fight

Matchgirl strikes: women unite and fight

by Martin Brisland. Main image copyright TUC Archives, used with permission. The female sewing machinists’ strike of 1968 at the Ford Dagenham plant resulted in the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970. Their story was told in the 2010 film Made in Dagenham. Eighty years before, in London’s East End, the female workers at
Brave New Southampton: Wyndham Court, modern architecture & the municipal socialist city

Brave New Southampton: Wyndham Court, modern architecture & the municipal socialist city

by Owen Hatherley. This essay was originally written as a lecture to accompany Southampton photographer Rachel Adams’ exhibition Life Is Brutalist: a portrait of Wyndham Court, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the city’s landmark building. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the planned physical exhibition had to be called off, but Rachel’s striking photographs can be viewed
Photos: reflecting on the end of shielding

Photos: reflecting on the end of shielding

Pictures and words by Mike Daish. Shielding has been paused so I am now gearing up to return to my normal job which is working a local shop. After four months spent mainly at home and having been on my own for much of that time,  it will be quite a big change. The past
Opinion: Industrial Workers of the World uniting in Southampton

Opinion: Industrial Workers of the World uniting in Southampton

by Nathan Brown and Pete Hayward. Activists from the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW) are seeking to launch a Southampton branch.  Currently they come under the auspices of the Reading branch, but as local members have started meeting and organising, they are going to go through the process of being recognised as an
Photos: the little things

Photos: the little things

by Mike Daish. I often hear the phrase, it’s the little things that matter most and I tend to agree. Since being able to get outside, with the easing of lockdown, and enjoy the local countryside again I have loved watching all the little things I have missed so much. Each day I go out
Southampton: a tale of two universities

Southampton: a tale of two universities

by Martin Brisland. Southampton is one of a handful of places with two universities; the University of Southampton and Solent University. They attract about 40,000 full and part time students including many from abroad, making us a truly cosmopolitan city. This has a major positive economic impact. Solent has been a university since July 2005,
Easing the lockdown: my first walk outside

Easing the lockdown: my first walk outside

word and photos by Mike Daish. Today I took my first walk in a little over two months.  Due to a medical condition I was informed that I should isolate in my home for 12 weeks. I am still isolating but am now allowed to leave the house. I am very lucky to have a
The Southampton Doorstep Portraits Project

The Southampton Doorstep Portraits Project

by Martin Brisland. A record of a unique moment in time by photographer Katherine Mills. We have all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way. For a local photographer who would typically be earning from weddings and family occasions at this time of year it means creative thinking to come up with ways
Directory of businesses in and around Southampton currently operating

Directory of businesses in and around Southampton currently operating

by Frances Churchward, additional research by Georgina Morgan. In these very frightening times, one thing that has given a spark of positivity is people coming together as communities and supporting one another. People have stayed in their homes for weeks on end, not only for their own sakes, but also, to protect those more vulnerable.
7 Ways To Cope During Challenging Times

7 Ways To Cope During Challenging Times

By Cheryl Rickman, www.CherylRickman.co.uk. During challenging times, we may not be able to control our circumstances but we can control our response. Positive Psychology Practitioner and Author of  The Little Book of Resilience, Cheryl Rickman explores how to make the most of the situation we find ourselves in during Lockdown and beyond. 1.  Define your new normal.
Photos of much loved locations in Eling

Photos of much loved locations in Eling

by Mike Daish. I am confined to my flat at the moment and have been inside for almost four weeks now. To pass some of the time I am looking at old photos and enjoying the memories they invoke. Something I do regularly is go out on little cycle rides locally and take a few
10 reasons to be cheerful about Southampton

10 reasons to be cheerful about Southampton

by Martin Brisland. We 260,000 Sotonians are lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the country. Here are ten reasons to be proud of our home city and some activities to look forward to when we come out of lockdown. Heritage The Romans, Saxons, Vikings and the Normans have all left their mark
The Southampton hobbyist producing PPE for the NHS in his garage

The Southampton hobbyist producing PPE for the NHS in his garage

by Sally Churchward. As the full horror of the coronavirus crisis and, specifically, how under equipped our hospitals and unprotected frontline staff are, Damien Long knew he could help. The former advertising agency project manager spent much of his spare time creating and sometimes even designing replicas of props from sci-fi films and books on
Looking back on Southampton’s historic music scene.

Looking back on Southampton’s historic music scene.

by Martin Brisland. I recently reviewed Million Dollar Quartet at The Mayflower for In Common and it set me thinking. The musical is set at Sun Records studio in Memphis and chronicles December 4th 1956. By chance,on that distant Tuesday, Elvis Preseley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis jammed together and the impromptu
March in photos

March in photos

by Mike Daish. I took my camera out with me around Eling, and in Southampton centre, catching the arrival of spring, at the same time as coronavirus also sweeps into the area. The first three photos were taken at Eling near the little toll bridge and tide mill. These were taken while out on one
How historical pandemics have affected Southampton.

How historical pandemics have affected Southampton.

by Martin Brisland. The current Coronavirus pandemic is obviously worrying but such major health events are sadly nothing new. Southampton has been an important port for centuries but the passage of many people through it from all over the world means that it is prone to importing diseases. In the 1300s we had a leprosy
Hampshire People’s Pride – bringing politics to the party

Hampshire People’s Pride – bringing politics to the party

by Sally Churchward. Last summer saw the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. They were long frustrated by police brutality and were fighting back.  For Jake Radwell, founder and chairperson of  The People’s
Plastic not so fantastic – trying to break the plastic habit

Plastic not so fantastic – trying to break the plastic habit

by Chris Richards. What happened when a Southampton family of four tried to go cold turkey on buying plastic for a fortnight? Chris Richards reports.  Plastics! Everyone has an opinion about them and no single solution is going to work universally. The issues surrounding plastics, as are reported widely, are their major contribution to the
Is it transformation or the end of the road for Southampton’s Art House?

Is it transformation or the end of the road for Southampton’s Art House?

by Sally Churchward. It is central to Southampton’s grassroots arts scene. But is it the end of the line for The Art House? The Art House has helped a lot of people in the 12 years since it was started by a group of creative individuals, who recognised a gap in the city’s arts scene,
The big Southampton Christmas quiz

The big Southampton Christmas quiz

by Martin Brisland. A Christmas quiz to help entertain you and your guests over the festive period. Simply answer true or false to the questions below. The answers are at the bottom, so no cheating!   The last public tram service was on New Years Eve 1949.  After the 1940 bombing of Southampton money received
My NHS story: Free at the point of need

My NHS story: Free at the point of need

by Martin Brisland. Saturday 15th July 2017 was a day to remember. Well it would be if only I could remember it. I know it was morning, I was in bed and a thunderclap pain hit in the back of my head.  I recall taking two paracetamol and lying down. It was about six weeks
Supporting refugees and asylum seekers at Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group

Supporting refugees and asylum seekers at Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group

by Neil Merrick. It was six in the morning when Lesley Sheldon-Browning and Nyala left Southampton for a day trip to Liverpool about two years ago. For Lesley, the journey had begun an hour earlier when she left her home outside the city to pick up Nyala on the way to the station.
Clearing the air in Southampton

Clearing the air in Southampton

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. There’s an internet meme going around which runs, “I grew up during a time when everyone went outside to play in the fields, built dens and climbed trees, we got dirty, bathed on Sunday” and it rambles on about drinking tap water, whittling conkers and being regularly beaten by grandparent, or something
Artist, poet, musician & dad Greg Gilbert on his need to create

Artist, poet, musician & dad Greg Gilbert on his need to create

by Sally Churchward. Greg Gilbert first made a name for himself as the frontman of indie pop band Delays, but in recent years returned to his originally intended career, art. Since his first exhibition, in 2013, he has made a name for himself as an accomplished artist and, more recently, a poet.   On November
Photo gallery: LeftFest at the 1865 Club, Southampton

Photo gallery: LeftFest at the 1865 Club, Southampton

Southampton’s biggest LeftFest event yet, held today (Saturday, October 19) at the 1865 Club was pronounced a huge success. The event saw performers such as Southampton Ukulele Jam, Two Left Feet theatre company, spoken word artist Potent Whisper and Tom Walker, better known as his fictitious disgruntled news reader character Jonathan Pie take to the
Football & politics: St Pauli’s Southampton supporters

Football & politics: St Pauli’s Southampton supporters

by Sally Churchward. IT’S a Monday evening in a Southampton pub and a group of football fans are gathering to watch the big game. A flag is hung from a wall, team scarves are unfurled and jackets are removed to reveal tops emblazoned with the team’s logo. It’s a derby match and there is an
Jeremy Corbyn & Rebecca Long-Bailey in Southampton

Jeremy Corbyn & Rebecca Long-Bailey in Southampton

by Sally Churchward. Jeremy Corbyn  pledged to set up a ‘people’s power company’ to ‘give power to the people’ once his party is in government. The statement concluded his speech to the capacity crowd of Labour Party members at Southampton’s 1865 club on Wednesday, October 9, and was met with a standing ovation. The leader
Launch of TransVerse: We Won’t Be Erased

Launch of TransVerse: We Won’t Be Erased

by Anita Foxall. TransVerse: We Won’t Be Erased!, an anthology of poems and lyrics by transgender and non-binary writers, was recently launched at The Art House Café, in Southampton. The event consisted of performances by some of the poets and gave us a chance to speak to the editor, Ash Brockwell, about this project. How it
Preview: Vulvas In/Formation at The Railway

Preview: Vulvas In/Formation at The Railway

by Sally Churchward. Fanny, vulva, vagina, front bottom, frou-frou, chuff…the list goes on. There are a lot of words to describe women’s genitals but, says Emma Rees, one which actually describes the whole of the area is widely considered the most offensive word in the English language: c**t. Emma will be taking part in a
In Common Launch Party at The Art House

In Common Launch Party at The Art House

The Art House in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter was packed on Saturday night as people came together to celebrate the launch of the city’s new community news and features website In Common. In Common aims to help bring people in the city closer together and to celebrate and promote what’s good about the city, including the
Southampton Climate Strike

Southampton Climate Strike

Millions of protesters have taken to the streets across the globe to demand that governments take real action on the climate crisis. Protests took place on the streets of Southampton throughout Friday, September 20. They included a protest at Carnival HQ, a meeting at October Books in Portswood, a clothes swap in Guildhall Square, a
My Life with M.E. – Exploding the Myths

My Life with M.E. – Exploding the Myths

by Chrissy Russell. Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Yuppy Flu, post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) The list goes on. Each decade has seen a new name, but the erroneous perception of it remains the same. The Word Health Organisation classifies the disease as Myalgic
Southampton Pride August 2019

Southampton Pride August 2019

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. If you’ve missed the references or don’t know much about LGBTQ+ history, then I hope you’ll forgive me for reminding you that this year we are commemorating 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York – the start of the modern gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Daniel Crow & a space: transforming city’s art scene

Daniel Crow & a space: transforming city’s art scene

by Sally Churchward. God’s House Tower, a new multi-million arts venue in Southampton’s Old Town, will open in September. It will house a permanent exhibition about the building’s heritage, changing exhibitions, talks, workshops, events, a cafe and a shop, and is set to become a major tourist attraction on the south coast, and to significantly
Hedgehog – Success in a Bursledon garden

Hedgehog – Success in a Bursledon garden

by Martin Davis. You’ve probably seen information from conservation groups recommending that we make holes in our walls and fences for ‘hedgehog highways’, especially in residential areas.  Well here’s a success story. The evidence Early this year I moved to a house in Bursledon, and for a while I had my suspicions about there being
October Books: how the radical bookshop is booming

October Books: how the radical bookshop is booming

by Sally Churchward. For the staff and volunteers at October Books, there is delicious irony in the fact that the building in which the radical bookshop is now based used to house a bank. “I love it, it’s so ironic,” exclaims volunteer Glyn Oliver, who has been helping with fixing up the new venue, around
Water Life: Southampton’s houseboat community

Water Life: Southampton’s houseboat community

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. What prompts us to choose the homes we inhabit? Is it purely a financial decision, is it the space we need or is it deeper? Maybe it’s family pressures or maybe it’s a dream  Megan had always dreamt of living on a houseboat, so at age 21, when her dad talked about
The Rebel Gardeners are coming for your street

The Rebel Gardeners are coming for your street

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff (I’m the one in the ‘wild’ t-shirt). So here’s the thing – I really don’t like concrete, tarmac and paving stones. Yes, yes, I know they’re useful and are probably the only way for a modern city to function – but seriously? Our cities are a monochrome of greyness; the sun comes