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Health worker who exposed Rochdale child sex abuse ring awarded MBE

Between 2005 – 2011, Sara Rowbotham made nearly 200 referrals detailing the sexual abuse and grooming of young people

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@RochdaleCouncil / Twitter

A former health worker has been awarded an MBE for the role she played in exposing a child sex abuse ring in Rochdale.

Sara Rowbotham worked as the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team co-ordinator from 2004 to 2014, where she repeatedly raised concerns about dozens of young girls who she believed to be at risk.

Sara was concerned that girls as young as thirteen were being plied with drink and drugs and ‘passed around’ by older men who used them for sex, and subsequently made hundreds of referrals detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people. 

She became an integral part of the prosecution of nine men, who were each convicted of sex trafficking and other offences including rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. 

Rochdale Borough Council

In 2017 a drama on the scandal, Three Girls, was released by the BBC and saw Maxine Peake portray the role of Sara. Following this, there were overwhelming calls for her to be formally recognised for her services to the Rochdale community.

And on Tuesday, March 15th, Sara was appointed MBE for services to young people at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Speaking to PA News Agency about receiving the prestigious award, Sara said: “I’m quite emotional really, it’s been an exciting and really lovely day.

“It’s quite emotional to think things have come so far, and to receive this honour is really important. It really reminds me of those times and it’s almost a bit of a trigger after coming to the end of such a horrible situation.

“To be recognised for the hard work and energy and effort of not only myself but the rest of my team is really important.”

She went on to stress the importance of people understanding the complexities of exploitation, saying it is a ‘really difficult phenomena’.

She said: “I did feel as though I was kind of being pushed aside – for then everybody else to recognise that I did the right thing is validation really. The energy and effort that was put in, the anger and the frustration that I felt is acknowledged.

“I think it [abuse] probably is still happening but what our work did was allow victims to come forward.”

Sara now works as a Labour Councillor for North Middleton Ward.

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Four-day week made permanent by most UK companies taking part in world’s biggest trial

Would you prefer a four-day work week?

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ILO Asia-Pacific & Thirdman / Pexels

Most companies who took part in the biggest four-day working week trial have now made it a permanent policy, research shows.

It seems people are happier when they have enough free time to spend with loved ones as well as some much needed rest, and with batteries fully charged they feel ready to take on the new working week.

With long commutes Monday-Friday and two days a week to do your weekly shop, get the washing done, look after the kids, clean the house, visit friends and family and somehow find time to chill, the weekly grind can be tough.

ILO Asia-Pacific / Pexels

A six-month UK pilot of the four-day work week took place in 2022 and saw 61 organisations take part, of which, 54 (89%) are still operating under the policy a year later and 31 (51%) have made the change permanent – according to a report.

In the trial, staff did not work longer days to make up for the missing fifth, nor did they take a pay cut, instead, they got all their work for the week complete within a 32-hour week.

More than half the project managers and CEOs of the companies said the move to a four-day work week – where staff work 100% of their output in 80% of their time – had a positive impact on their organisations.

Thirdman / Pexels

As reported in The Guardian, improvements included 82% seeing positive effects on staff wellbeing, 50% found it reduced staff turnover and 32% said it helped with staff recruitment. Almost half (46%) said the changes helped improve working and productivity.

Author of the report, an American economist and Sociology Professor at Boston College, said the results showed ‘long lasting’ effects.

She added: “Physical and mental health, and work-life balance are significantly better than at six months. Burnout and life satisfaction improvements held steady.”

Ciphr / Flickr

But, Matthew Percival, a director at the Confederation of British Industry said the four-day work week was not a ‘one-size fits all answer’ and it was unlikely it would pay for itself in many industries.

He said: “If businesses have the budget to add to their offer to employees, then they will be considering the relative merits of reducing working hours compared to increasing pay, pensions or paid parental leave, as well as better supporting health and wellbeing.”

However, the four-day working week report, created by the thinktank Autonomy and researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Salford and Boston College in the US, found that ‘many of the significant benefits found during the initial trial persisted 12 months on’, although they noted the sample size used in the trial was small. 

I See Modern Britain / Flickr

One charity which took part in the trial reported employee satisfaction and that it offered a good alternative for not being able to offer high salaries.

Paul Oliver, chief operating officer at Citizens Advice Gateshead, said: “We wanted to see a way to improve staff conditions so they would be better rested and could give more to work.”

Though some challenges faced by companies included working with clients and stakeholders where the four-day working week was not in practice. In places where the policy was implemented unevenly, there was some resentment from staff.

Migs Reyes / Pexels

The Scottish government launched a four-day working week trial for some public services this month, with an aye for a wider rollout if it proves successful.

A government spokesperson said: “We have no plans to introduce a four-day working week. 

“Ultimately it is for employers and employees to agree what working arrangements work best for them, and we will be making changes to our flexible working legislation in April, including the right to request flexible working from day 1 of a new job.”

It seems we’re still a bit away from the dream of that sweet work-life balance, but the four-day work week could still become the norm for many of us in the near future. 

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The Body Shop reveals full list of stores closing including several in Greater Manchester

Sad news for retail

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Kake & PAM pham / Flickr

The Body Shop is to shut 75 stores over the next four to six weeks resulting in hundreds of job losses.

It comes after the British cosmetics retailer announced it had fallen into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.

Closures began last month (February 20th) with seven stores shutting: Ashford Town Centre, Kent, Bristol Queens Road, Bristol, Canary Wharf, London, Cheapside, London, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Oxford Street-Bond Street, London and Surrey Quays, London.

More store closures have now been confirmed with 75 closing over the coming weeks – including several in Greater Manchester – and 116 remaining open.

Tony Monblat / Flickr

The stores in our region that are closing include the sites in Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Wigan. Meanwhile, the Manchester Arndale, Manchester Royal Exchange, Trafford Park and Stockport branches are remaining open.

Administrators FRP said the retailer’s current portfolio is ‘no longer viable’ after ‘years of unprofitability’ and that the cuts would ‘
help re-energise’ the brand. 

The Body Shop has around 198 shops in the UK and employs around 2,200 people, including 750 staff at its head office.

Around 270 head office jobs are being cut, reducing roles by 40% and leaving around 400 full-time employees. It will restructure roles at its head office to align with its more financially viable strategy going forward.

The Body Shop ambassador programme, where individuals sell the brand’s products for a commission, is also being closed, FRP said.

Kake / Flickr

There will be a ‘renewed focus’ on products, online sales channels and wholesale as part of its restructuring.

FRP said: “A reduced store footprint, will coincide with a renewed focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies, bringing the brand in line with industry peers and supporting a return to financial stability.”

The Body Shop was founded by the pioneering British businesswoman and activist Dame Anita Roddick and her husband in 1976.

It established itself as a ground breaking ethical, sustainable brand, rejecting animal testing on cosmetics and promoting environmentally-friendly products and ethical sourcing practices.

@thebodyshop / Instagram

The trailblazing brand has since faced tough competition from other ethical brands including Lush, which was co-founded by Mark Constantine – a former supplier to The Body Shop.

In 2006 the couple sold The Body Shop to French beauty giant L’Oreal.

The Brazilian beauty giant Natura acquired the brand from L’Oreal in 2017, and Aurelius bought The Body Shop for £207m at the end of last year.

The 75 Body Shop stores closing are:

  • Aylesbury
  • Banbury
  • Barnstaple
  • Basildon
  • Battersea
  • Bedford
  • Beverley
  • Bexleyheath
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool
  • Bournemouth Commercial Rd
  • Bolton
  • Brixton
  • Broughton Park
  • Bury
  • Camberley
  • Carlisle
  • Carmarthen
  • Chippenham
  • Cirencester
  • Croydon
  • Didcot
  • Durham
  • East Kilbride
  • Edinburgh Gyle Centre
  • Edinburgh Princes Mall
  • Epsom
  • Fareham
  • Farnborough
  • Glasgow Braehead
  • Glasgow Fort
  • Glasgow Silverburn
  • Glasgow Station
  • Grimsby
  • Halifax
  • Harlow
  • Hastings
  • Hempstead Valley
  • High Wycombe
  • Huddersfield
  • Hull
  • Ilford
  • Ipswich
  • Isle of Wight
  • Islington
  • Kendal
  • Kings Lynn
  • Leeds White Rose
  • Lewisham Centre
  • Lichfield
  • Loughborough
  • Luton
  • Macclesfield
  • Middlesbrough
  • Morpeth
  • Newton Abbot
  • Northampton
  • Oldham
  • Perth
  • Peterborough Queensgate
  • Portsmouth
  • Regent Street
  • Salisbury
  • Stafford
  • Stanstead Airside
  • Stratford Upon Avon
  • Swansea
  • Telford
  • Thanet
  • Trowbridge
  • Wakefield Trinity Walk
  • Walthamstow
  • Wigan
  • Woking
  • Wolverhampton

The 116 Body Shop stores remaining open are:

  • Aberdeen
  • Ashford Outlet
  • Basingstoke
  • Bath
  • Belfast Victoria Square
  • Birmingham New St.
  • Birmingham Bullring
  • Bluewater
  • Bracknell Lexicon
  • Bradford Broadway
  • Braintree Outlet
  • Brent Cross
  • Bridgend Outlet
  • Brighton
  • Bristol Cabot Circus
  • Broadgate
  • Bromley
  • Bury St Edmonds
  • Cannock Outlet
  • Cardiff St Davids
  • Castleford Outlet
  • Canterbury Whitefriars
  • Chelmsford
  • Cheltenham
  • Chesire Oaks Outlet
  • Chester Foregate Street
  • Chesterfield
  • Chichester
  • Clarks Village Outlet
  • Colchester
  • Coventry
  • Crawley County Mall
  • Cribbs Causeway
  • Dalton Park Outlet
  • Derby Intu
  • Doncaster Lakeside Outlet
  • Dudley
  • Dundee
  • Dunfermline
  • Ealing
  • East Midlands Outlet
  • Eastbourne
  • Edinburgh St James
  • Enfield
  • Fleetwood Outlet
  • Foyleside
  • Glasgow St. Enoch
  • Gloucester
  • Gretna Outlet
  • Guildford High Street
  • Gunwharf Outlet
  • Harrogate
  • Harrow
  • Hatfield
  • Hereford Commercial St
  • Hounslow Treaty Centre
  • Icon at O2 Outlet
  • Inverness
  • Kingston-Upon-Thames
  • Lancaster
  • Leamington Spa
  • Leeds Briggate
  • Leicester New Shires
  • Lincoln Waterside
  • Liverpool One
  • Livingston Outlet
  • Llandudno
  • London Bridge
  • Lowry Outlet
  • Maidstone
  • Manchester Arndale Centre
  • Manchester Royal Ex
  • Meadowhall High St
  • Metro Centre Platinum Mall
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newcastle Eldon Sq
  • Nottingham Bridlesmith Gate
  • Oxford Street Soho
  • Oxford Westgate
  • Poole
  • Preston
  • Reading
  • Romford
  • Rushden Lakes
  • Shrewsbury
  • Skipton
  • Solihull
  • Southampton West Quay
  • Southend
  • Spalding
  • St. Albans
  • Staines
  • Stockport
  • Stratford City Westfield
  • Sunderland
  • Sutton
  • Swindon Outlet
  • Talke Hanley Outlet
  • Taunton
  • Thurrock
  • Trafford Park
  • Truro
  • Tunbridge Wells Royal Victoria Place
  • Uxbridge Market Square
  • Warrington
  • Watford
  • Wembley Outlet
  • White City Westfield
  • Whiteley Village
  • Wimbledon
  • Winchester
  • Windsor
  • Worcester
  • Worthing
  • York Coppergate Walk
  • York Depot
 

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First ever permanent pug cafe to open in Greater Manchester

If you’re a fan of pugs, you’re going to love this!

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Cuppapug

A brand new cafe full of adorable and playful pugs is set to open in Greater Manchester.

You could go for a coffee and cake while 10 cute pugs cuddle, play and come for treats from your hands at this brand new cafe concept opening on Chapel Street in Salford.

Already a huge hit in London, with visitors from near and far, Cuppapug will be opening its first café in the North West – and its second venue – with a soft launch on Friday March 1st.

Cuppapug

Pug lovers can book in at the cafe for an hour of crazy or chilled pug time, suitable for all the family to enjoy.

Cuppapug is a cafe concept created by couple – and owners of seven pugs – Aaron Carty and Matthew Pieterse, who opened the doors to their first venue in London in 2022.

Fully opening to the public on March 21st, visitors to Cuppapug can expect the adorable, furry four-legged friends running around the cafe, playing in ball pits and eating carrots and treats from your hands.

The menu will feature a host of doggy-themed drinks and cakes as well as treats for the doggos such as puppuccinos.

Cuppapug

In case you’re wondering where the pugs go at the end of the day, each one belongs to local owners who drop their loveable fur baby off at the cafe for a day of mischief and fun.

Also in the CuppaPug family are Gaston, Bruce, Bowser, Beau, Gizmo, Bebe, and Baloo – Aaron and Matt’s pugs who’ve been staying with them at The Kimpton Clocktower as they prep the site for opening.

Speaking to Proper Manchester about the new opening, Aaron said: “We chose Manchester because we discovered it is a city full of dog lovers who love pugs.

“We get so many people visiting our London cafe from the North, we’ve even people catching flights from Hawaii, so it seemed like the right place to open our next Cuppapug.”

Cuppapug

On why he and Matt love pugs so much, Aaron said: “I think of pugs being a lot like myself and I also love an underdog – and pugs are an underdog of the dog world.

“People think they are unfit, unhealthy and have breathing issues but that’s not true. We actually train our pugs to enjoy carrots, walk a lot, and our pet pugs enjoy a steak night every week – even I don’t get that!”

The Salford Cuppapug will also be partnering with Manchester Pug Thing, who rescue and rehome pugs, with £1 from every ticket going towards the pug rescue charity.

Aaron added: “We’ve had such overwhelming support and positive messages about our Manchester opening, it’s been absolutely amazing. 

“It’s already a nerve-wrecking experience deciding to open a second venue but we’re really happy to have chosen to do it in Manchester and we’re really happy Manchester has chosen us. We’ve had so many drivers going past and beeping us and people asking ‘is this the pug place?’

“We’re having a launch party on March 21st and are really excited to open.”

CuppaPug officially opens to the public on March 21st 6-10pm, following a soft launch this Friday (March 1st). You can find the cafe and pugs on Chapel Street, Salford – it’s bright pink, you can’t miss it!

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