• Residents can ear about Chester’s One City Plan at public drop-in sessions taking place on Friday, 3 December, 10am to 8pm, and Saturday, 4 December, 10am to 7pm at the Co-llective Coworking Hub in The Forum Shopping Centre. A consultation organised earlier this year by Good for Nothing Chester (GFN) co leads Uná Meehan and Holly Nelson engaged with a diverse range of city users including residents, businesses and key stakeholders, to revisit and review the plan. The consultation collated insights and themes from those who took part, which will now be taken forwards by the Council, and inform the One City Plan. The One City Plan is a 15 year strategy for growth and regeneration and has so far influenced changes including the Northgate development, Storyhouse and the bus interchange. Councillor Richard Beacham commented : “Re-visiting this 15-year strategy at its mid-point using new techniques to work with different people in the city has enriched this document and ensured it is relevant for the times we live in. No one predicted a global pandemic and combined with the impact on the high street of changing shopping and leisure trends, and the climate emergency, we face many new challenges.” Uná Meehan, Good for Nothing Chester said: “We’re really pleased with the passion, insights and feedback this process has unearthed. Although this began as a community consultation, the scope of work increased in response to the enthusiasm shown by participants and those invested in Chester’s future success.” GFN fed back to the Council in June, and have since delivered workshops to Chester Growth Partnership, Council officers and Councilors for the city of Chester. Uná added: “Having delivered these workshops, we now can’t wait to share the findings with the wider public – this consultation was about giving the people of Chester a voice, and we hope we’ve done them proud. Come and see for yourself.” Visitors to the sessions will have the opportunity to view the results of the consultation and have their say on the recommendations. ” This is an opportunity to view the raw data and the emerging themes that will help Chester, not just over the next 15 years, but to 2050 and beyond.” For more information on the One City Plan please visit www.chestergrowth.co.uk.
Thrive now open
  • Now open on the Chester retail park , Sealand Road ( next to Sports Direct) is Thrive– “the big home for little brands” consists of an artisan market, street food, homeware, beauty and lifestyle products. The company’s website at https://www.thrivegb.co.uk/about-us reveals that the venture has been in planning and development for 5 years by “a small crack team of British entrepreneurs” who “have decided to take on the challenge of the big stores on the British High street. We are a team of retailers, manufacturers, producers, event planners and creative designers with over 20 years experience. ” Thrive is a lifestyle brand associated with “Good Living at Accessible Prices” creativity, designers and makers. The store has a ‘moving space’ which changes constantly – including Celebrity Chefs, local creatives, yoga/pilates, moving art gallery & masterclasses. Thrive is open 10 -6 in the week and 11-4 on Sundays.
  • New to the Grosvenor Shopping Centre is Santa’s Enchanted Grotto , open right up til Christmas Eve. Manned by fairies and elves, the grotto promises an immersive experience, where families can walk through a magical forest, leaving Chester far behind, to find Santa at his home in the North Pole.  Set up in the recently vacated H&M unit courtesy of the shopping centre, local actors play the fairy and elf staff. The grotto features a woodland path leading to the North Pole and Santa himself. Emily Ghazarian, marketing and events manager, Chester BID, said: ‘Chester’s community of children are just amazing – they have shown spirit and resolve over the pandemic and continue to keep our city the cheerful, family-friendly place we love to spend time in. We wanted to make sure this Christmas is more magical than ever before, which is why we launched Santa’s Enchanted Grotto – our biggest ever Santa experience.’  Prebooking is required at www.experiencechester.co.uk/event/santas-enchanted-grotto/ 
  • Chester resident , Rhian Waller, who recently joined the staff at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire has pledged to undertake a 24-hour read-a-thon from 5pm on December 5 to raise funds and awareness for the library, which has now reopened. Rhian said: “Gladstone’s Library is back on its feet, thanks to the people who pledged support during its closure, and thanks to everyone who has visited since September, but if I can do a little more keep it thriving, then I’ll be happy. Gladstone’s is an unusual place: it’s a charity and it provides hospitality, and everyone knows that both charities and hotels and restaurants were hit hard by the last year and a half – it’s effectively been a double whammy for this historic institution.” The library is a hub, hosting reading and writing groups, classes, talks and festivals. It also offers residencies and scholarships to writers. Rhian describes herself as a big reader, which is what draw her to the organisation in the first place. The plan is to stay at the library overnight and read one short story per hour for 24 hours and live-post responses to and reviews of the tales she encounters. People can suggest stories, share their own reviews of them and follow along online through the Gladstone Library social media channels. If you want to suggest a story of about 10,000 words, message @Gladlib on Twitter or Instagram or drop a message on the Gladstone’s Library Facebook page. Rhian said: “The library is set in a 120-year-old Victorian Gothic building, so I’d love it if people suggested Victorian stories, library-based stories or winter stories.” You can donate to Rhian’s read-athon at https://www.gofundme.com/f/rhians-readathon. To find out more about Gladstone’s Library see http://www.gladstoneslibrary.org.
  • The Christmas parades continue in Chester this week with the Christmas Lantern Parade (Thurs 2nd Dec) . The parade will feature children from eight local primary schools led by a Christmas band. The children leave from Chester’s Christmas Market at 7pm with their handmade lanterns , the route includes St Werburgh Street, Eastgate Street, Bridge Street, then turning around and heading for Northgate Street, with the Parade ending back at the Christmas Market in Town Hall Square. Schools taking part this year are Cherry Grove Primary, Acresfield Primary, Dee Point Primary, St Clares Primary, Upton Westlea Primary, Lache Primary, Belgrave Primary and Tarporley CE Primary. The following weekwill be the Winter Watch parade ( 9 Dec) and the 16 Dec will see the combined Saturnalia and Winter Watch. All parades begin at 7pm.
The Romans return on the 16th December.
  • In time for the festive season the long running Chester in Lego display in Chester market now includes a trail of 30 Christmas scenes/characters for visitors to find. The display, set for a move to the new market in 2022 currently raises funds for Chester Women’s Aid. Market manager Karen Bates commented: ” The Lego display really is the jewel in the market crown. The display changes with seasons and what’s on in Chester. Christmas is the real highlight , everywhere you look there’s intricate quirky nods to the festive period , even Freddie Mercury has a Christmas tree!”
  • On offer for non profit groups in Cheshire West are grants of £2000- £5000. The grant funding is part of the Reopening and Recovery Rural and Communities Programme designed to support local arts and community organisations to develop events and activity that encourage recovery from lockdown in their locality as well as community building, engagement and wellbeing. Council Leader Louise Gittins: “We hope to support a further 12 to 15 local projects depending on the value of grants awarded.  The grants are being funded by the Council to support activity happening between January and March 2022.” Projects applying should be offering activity of any artistic or creative discipline to their community and or members.  Proposed activity must do at least one of the following: enable activity to restart, celebrate the high street, or bring communities together. The council is working with Cheshire West Voluntary Arts Network to allocate the funds. Steph Meskell-Brocken, Cheshire West Voluntary Arts Network Chairman said: “We’ve already seen a wide range of microgrants being awarded as part of this programme.  They have supported organisations from brownies, mother and toddler, adults with Learning Disability, to new choirs, youth theatre and more, to run creative sessions with their members or local community.  We are excited to  reach and support even more communities with the development grants.”To apply for funding please read the Guidelines and Conditions before completing an Application Form:  https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/leisure-parks-and-events/arts-and-festivals/voluntary-arts.aspx and sending it to: artswest@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk The deadline is 9am on the 13 December. Successful applicants will be informed before Christmas and grants awarded early in January.
  • Vivo Care Choices, in partnership with the West Cheshire Autism Hub, has opened a brand-new Diverse Designs shop at the Forum Shopping Centre in Chester, providing an opportunity for people with learning disabilities and autism to get creative and sell their products. The Diverse Designs shop can be found next to B&M Bargains and the entrance to Chester Market at the Forum Shopping Centre and will be open from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday, offering a range of arts, crafts and other products for customers to purchase. Vivo provides services for people with learning disabilities and autism across Cheshire West and Chester, while the Autism Hub opened at The Bluecoat in Chester last year and offers a welcoming space for people with autism and their families.  The products on sale will make wonderful gifts or ideal Christmas presents and customers will know they’re not only beautifully and lovingly hand made, but they also make a difference to the lives of the people supported by Vivo and the Autism Hub.This venture will provide people accessing services at both Vivo and the Autism Hub with plenty of opportunities to develop their skills and grow in confidence in the community. Along with the chance to get creative, people will be able to develop customer service skills that could help create a future pathway for them into employment. The focus of the shop will be on the development opportunities rather than profit making so it’s a space where people feel comfortable to get creative and take part in the things they loveAlistair Jeffs, Managing Director of Vivo Care Choices, said: “This is another exciting development for us at Vivo as we aim to be at the heart of the local community. The people we support love being creative and this is a fantastic opportunity for them to sell the products they make. ” If you’d like to link up with Diverse Designs, whether you’re a care organisation supporting people or looking for somewhere to sell products you’ve made, please email: donna.tonkinson@vivocarechoices.co.uk.
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