• The City of Chester MP, Samantha Dixon, is urging people receiving a state pension to check their eligibility for a Pension Credit cost-of-living payment before the deadline on Friday 19th May.  The UK Government is issuing a cost-of-living payment of £301 to those receiving Pension Credit. 

Pension Credit has been set up to support your living costs if you’re over the State Pension age. It is separate from your State Pension, and you can receive it even if you have other income, savings or you own your home.  Other benefits from Pension Credit include a Council Tax discount, a free TV license, support for housing and mortgage costs, and help with NHS costs. 

To check if you are eligible for Pension Credit, visit the government website or apply over the phone at 0800 99 1234 

Samantha Dixon recently raised the issue of Pension Credit uptake with the Minister for Pensions in Parliament saying : “I am urging pensioners in Chester to check if they are eligible for Pension Credit as soon as possible.  Pension Credit uptake is a problem. It has one of the lowest take-up rates of any income-related support, but it could be a vital lifeline. There are 400,000 more pensioners in poverty today than when Labour was last in power, and more than a third of those eligible for Pension Credit are yet to claim.  Just last month, I visited a foodbank in Chester and heard the heartbreaking story of two pensioners in tears over having to use a foodbank for the first time because they cannot afford basic necessities.  Households across Chester are still struggling with the cost of everyday essentials. I am challenging the Government to increase awareness of these schemes to help people with their household finances.”

  • ‘Unfurled: Encounters with Artists’ Books’, is a free exhibition opened this week at the Grosvenor Museum (13 May to 2 July) showcasing the art form through work created by students, staff and alumni from the University of Chester.  The exciting, playful and sometimes humorous exhibition explores the diversity and range of this exciting contemporary art form, collected by museums worldwide. Some works will be for sale and free talks will reveal more about the engaging world of Artists’ Books. For further information go to www.westcheshiremuseums.co.uk

Visitors to galleries are familiar with artists making sculptures and painting but less so with ‘Artists’ Books’ – works of art that are created using a wide range of experimental book formats and materials.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said “Artists’ Books’ are a genuinely exciting ‘stand alone’ art form in their own right. This exciting exhibition promises to delight visitors with the variety of its Artists’ Books, including those in ‘accordion’, loose-leaf and sculpture form. This is a wonderful way to engage with this artform and maybe be the catalyst to draw inspiration for one’s own Artist Book.”

Tim Daly, curator of the exhibition from the University of Chester’s Art and Design Department, said: “It is not hard to see why artists, of all disciplines, are drawn to making Artists’ Books.  Whether mass produced or handmade, Artists’ Books can be made with traditional crafts including papermaking and bookbinding but also office photocopiers, desktop printer and little specialist equipment. Artists books are an inspiring artform and I hope that once visitors have seen how broad and interesting it can be, they feel motivated to make books of their own and join the growing artists’ book community in the region.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to handle some of the Artists’ Books and others will be for sale (most on a limited edition-basis). A free talk on artists’ books will be given during the duration of the exhibition.

  • Choir of Outsiders presents Northgate Folk Festival (26th August) an experimental and contemporary folk all-dayer set in the heart of Chester. Nestled within its ancient Roman City Walls, this new event seeks to celebrate the wyrd and wonderful traditional talent of these Isles.

The headliner is leading purveyor of experimental Celtic music, Scottish smallpipes player Brìghde Chaimbeul. Her mesmerising piping has earned her a BBC Young Folk Award and BBC Horizon Award, and recently she featured on Caroline Polachek’s ground-breaking album Desire, I Want To Turn Into You.

Chaimbeul’s sophomore album Carry Them With Us is an exhilarating weave of rich textural drones, trance atmospheres and instrumental folk traditions, featuring renowned Canadian saxophonist Colin Stetson (Arcade Fire, Bon Iver). Her debut The Reeling was also met by similar widespread acclaim. Named Folk Album Of The Month by The Guardian – who called it “simultaneously ancient and modern, profound and direct” – it garnered five star reviews across the board.

Progressive folk nine-piece Shovel Dance Collective uncover proto-feminist narratives and queer histories in their interpretation of traditional music, boldly making heard the voices of the working people. Tradfolk described their most recent record as “one of the best albums of 2022, if not the last five years” and rightly so, placing them at the forefront of a new generation of politically conscious traditional folk singers.

The festival will also host one of the foremost songwriters working in Wales today, captivating soloist The Gentle Good. He will be joined by the many-tassled, multi-talented Toria Wooff, a break out act in the North West; the highly-idiosyncratic, hypnotic banjo player Jacken Elswyth; velveteen voiced singer-songwriter Calum Gilligan; Lancashire broadside ballad singer and actor in Shane Meadows’ new BBC series The Gallows Pole, Jennifer Reid, and many more.

Festivalgoers can also expect appearances from local Morris dancers and music from Bobby Lee, who will be performing in the afternoon and on DJ duties throughout the day.

Full line-up:

Brìghde Chaimbeul ✶ Shovel Dance Collective ✶ The Gentle Good ✶ Toria Wooff ✶ Jacken Elswyth ✶ Calum Gilligan ✶ Bobby Lee ✶ Jennifer Reid ✶ Milkweed ✶ Robbie Caswell-jones

Ticket link: https://alexanderslive.seetickets.com/event/northgate-folk-festival/alexander-s-live/2656094

12pm – 10pm ✶ £14 adv £16 otd

  • Chester Hospitality Association (CHA) have announced their partnership with Chester based hospitality recruitment firm Staff 86 to deliver the first ever CHA People’s Awards. Venues from around the city have been eagerly nominating their staff for a range of awards including Rising Star, Barista of the year, Heart of House, Top Team and many more.

Steven Hesketh, chair of CHA said “Awards like these can only be made possible with the kind support of fantastic businesses like Staff 86. It has been a real joy to see the huge range of venues who have nominated their staff for these awards, large and small, chain or independent, we have been blown away, by the love and support shown for the people filling these key roles in Chester’s hospitality industry. The judges will have a tough job.”.

The first round of judging has begun, and judges include venue owners, hospitality PR, recruitment and marketing specialists, training and development advisors, chefs and chef lecturers, and other industry professionals.

Jack Mitchell, Managing Director of Staff 86 said, “We’re all thrilled to be the headline sponsor of the Chester Hospitality Awards this year. We’re a people business through and through and our local hospitality community are always at the forefront of our thinking, that community are what gives us direction and purpose as a business. This partnership is a fantastic opportunity to reward those in our industry and celebrate their efforts across the city, whilst also simply offering a public opportunity to be nice to one another and share some kind words. A nomination alone is a win in my eyes. Best of luck to everyone involved”.

Staff 86 was founded in 2021 and currently employs more than 1000 staff, operating from offices in Chester, Liverpool, and Manchester. In a short time, the organisation has built up a high reputation for providing staff for hotels, pubs, and restaurants as well as for venues and events that have staffing needs such as racecourse meetings and football arenas. It has established a name for itself as a leading provider of reliable, trustworthy, high-quality staff, tailoring its offer to the needs of the clients.

Staff 86 offers a same day service covering shortfalls in staff on the day or can work closely with clients and their teams to incorporate staff into their rota to ensure staffing levels are maintained for each day, job, event, or department. Regardless of the size of the operation, the preparation and dedication to each job remains the same; quality, honesty, and regular communication are some of the core foundations of Staff 86 and it’s what they pride themselves on.

A shortlist of the finalists for each category will be announced next week before the second round of judging, face to face interviews commences. The winners will be announced in a glittering award ceremony at Chester Racecourse, kindly hosted by Horseradish catering on 6th July 2023 and raising funds for the charity Hospitality Action.

  • Tickets for a crime writing festival are “flying out” according to the team at an historic library. Alibis In the Archive, a crime and detective writing festival, will take place at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire on June 9 to 11. Crime fans are invited to attend in person and view talks online.

The line-up of speakers for this year includes Felix Francis, author of Hands Down and son of Dick Francis, Bonnie MacBird, who has penned a highly successful continuation of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Martin Edwards, former chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and author of the Sepulchre Street, the latest in the Rachel Savernake series.

Louisa Yates, Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone’s Library, welcomed the return of the festival.
She said: “Alibis in the Archive is something that brings people back year after year, as well as attracting new attendees. This year marks six years of crime writing fun.We are thrilled the festival benefits from links with the Detection Club and the Crime Writers’ Association, and our friends in Malice Domestic based in the US. It truly is a destination for communities of crime writers and crime writing fans. This year’s tickets are flying out, which is great to see. It’s been a difficult couple of years for festivals of all kinds, but the immersive atmosphere of Alibis continues to draw people in, and we have been able to keep prices as reasonable as possible.”

Novelist Martin Edwards, who co-organises the event, will speak about the Crime Writers’ Association, which was founded by prolific author John Creasey and is now in its 70th year.

He said: “Alibis in the Archive is, as everyone who has attended over the years knows, one of the most enjoyable occasions in the crime fiction lover’s calendar. You’ll have the chance to hear leading authors talk about fascinating topics in a wonderful setting which is the home to the British Crime Writing Archives.

“For everyone attending in person there’s the chance to mingle with and chat to some wonderful writers and fellow readers. This year we have a very wide range of talks and a fantastic line-up of speakers, all of whom are keen to sample the uniquely welcoming atmosphere of Gladstone’s Library.”

A limited number of three-day weekend tickets, which include meals, activities and access to all author talks are available for £170. Individual view-online tickets are £10. For more information and to book, visit www.gladstoneslibrary.org

Chester Little Theatre (Gloucester St) are hosting a new season launch on Tuesday 30th May.

Bar open from 7pm, 7:30pm start: “Come and join us for an evening launching the upcoming 2023/24 season at Chester Little Theatre.Meet the directors for the upcoming season and learn about the productions that we’ll be working on for both the Liz Stafford Auditorium and the Salisbury Studio. There are always plenty of opportunities to get involved at CLT both on the stage and beyond it, so if you’ve been wondering what the next steps are to taking part then look no further!

The evening will also feature a performance of The Transmigration Show, which was CLT’s contribution to the 2023 Cheshire Drama Festival. A one act play set in the afterlife, this piece was nominated for several awards and even earned performer Kim Finn the Adjudicators Award.

No booking required. https://www.chesterlittletheatre.co.uk/

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