October 3, 2016, by Kirsty McKeown

“Ey up mi Ducks”….hello and welcome to Nottingham!

We are very pleased to share our second guest blog of the year with you, from Jo Cox Brown  of the Malt Cross and Street Pastors:

“Ey up mi Ducks” translates as “Hello, Welcome to Nottingham, Students” and is a term of endearment you will hear a lot from locals like me! We love that you have chosen to study here for the next three or so years and we hope that your time here will set you on a great platform for a successful future. We also hope that during your time here you will fall in love with the city, and that you’ll want to stay and work here and eventually call yourself a Nottinghamian.

This blog is a great opportunity to be able to share a little bit about what I do and why I love Nottingham so much:

I grew up in Nottingham and after a 10-year break (uni, travelling and six years working in London) I returned ten years ago with a mission. I’d seen some of the bad press about Nottingham and I thought ‘that is not the city I know and love’ and I came back wanting to make a difference, and thankfully due to a great team of people that image is now long gone.

The Nottingham that I know and love is a creative and vibrant hub, a real powerhouse of potential that buzzes with new ideas. Nottingham is filled with fun, great talent, diverse and well-run businesses, beautiful parks, an excellent safe night life, friendly locals and opportunities for all types of people.

Today I’m the Chief Executive of the Malt Cross Trust, a Charity on St James’s Street in Nottingham. For those of you who are returning you may know it as the beautiful café bar in a quirky artsy Victorian Music Hall where you may have drunk gin or listened to live music in our caves. If you are coming to study in Nottingham for the first time this September and have not yet discovered us (we are often called one of Nottingham’s hidden gems) do come and visit! You will find us behind the green columns on St James’s Street and discover a thriving hub of creativity that will welcome you in. We are home to a chilled bar and kitchen during the day so it’s a great place to bring your laptop and crack on with some essays or come seek us out in the evening for craft beer and cocktails. All the profits for our bar and kitchen and other trading activities go back into charity in the city.

The Malt Cross charity has worked with over 7,000 young people (aged 16 to 30) in the last year. Working alongside and promoting talented young artists and musicians and helping them to reach their potential, to doing outreach work such as Street Pastors and offering a Safe Space in the city, to helping people engage with Victorian history and heritage (NB just to prove to you that writing essays CAN be important – the idea for the Malt Cross project came from an essay written by a theology student over ten years ago!). We have student volunteers involved in the project, such as history and heritage, theology, medicine, architecture and the arts, and we always have lots of volunteering opportunities in Arts, Music, Heritage, Marketing and Street Pastors.

One of the ways we partner with the University of Nottingham is through the work of Street Pastors and Safe Space. You may have seen the Street Pastors when you’ve been out and about in our big blue jackets! There are over 100 volunteer Street Pastors (including around 15 students) aged from 18 to an impressive 78! The Street Pastors aim to love, care for, support and listen to anyone and everyone we meet, a visible presence on the streets of Nottingham (on Friday and Saturday nights 10pm to 3am). We care about what happens in our city and we want to make sure that they are as safe as possible. We are just ordinary people from diverse backgrounds with a concern for society – we are there to look after and take pressure off emergency services. Our aim is to engage people wherever we find them, and whatever situation they find themselves in.

A typical night for Street Pastors in the city includes giving out flip flops to girls who have removed their high-heeled shoes, handing out bottles of water and lollipops, chatting to groups of people and equipping them with information to enable a safe night out, giving young people advice on alcohol or drugs, working alongside the police to support victims of crime, giving first aid to someone who has been in a fight, lost their friends, drunk too much or taken drugs, working with someone who is homeless to help them access the right support, signposting someone who is a victim of domestic violence to the most appropriate help or helping students like yourselves to get home safely.

Today, thanks to great partnership working between multiple organisations on the city, crime in Nottingham is down by over 50% and the city now has a Purple Flag Award for the 5th year in a row for being a safe city in which to spend a night out. This shows how, by working together, we can make a difference to the communities in which we live.

If you are interested in getting involved in any aspect of the Malt Cross Project drop me an email on jo@maltcross.com –I would love to hear from you!

If you want to stay up to date with the Malt Cross follow us on:

Facebook: @maltcrossnotts

Twitter: @maltcross

Instagram: @maltcross

Posted in Guest blog