2022: Our Year has been introduced to create a legacy for children and young people living in Manchester and to help bring UNICEF’s Child Friendly City recognition for the city. 

Young Mancunians are set to benefit from new experiences, opportunities, events, and support through 2022, to help them reclaim their futures after a year spent in lockdown or in restricted measures due to COVID-19. 

Danny Middleton, Service Development Officer for Libraries, Galleries and Culture, explains how Manchester Libraries are supporting 2022: Our Year. 

“As a service, we are working with Stories of Care, a Manchester organisation set up by comedian Sophie Willan (actor, comedian and writer of BBC’s Alma’s Not Normal) to support care-experienced young people. This year they are publishing two books, their new Anthology ‘Tales of the Bold the Brave and the Beautiful’ and a book by their Lead Artist Oliver Sykes called ‘Alfie’s First Fight’.  

“We loved ‘Alfie’s First Fight’ so much that we’ve chosen the book as ‘Our Read for Our Year’. Manchester Libraries are always keen to support local writers and illustrators. We think Oliver has a huge talent for engaging with young people. The book is also beautifully illustrated by the brilliant Manchester artist Ian Morris.

“As part of 2022: Our Year, we’ve bought 1,000 copies of ‘Tales of the Bold, the Brave and the Beautiful’, and 1,000 copies of ‘Alfie’s First Fight’ to gift to targeted organisations, charities, sports venues, community groups and schools.

“Manchester Libraries will be hosting the book launch for ‘Alfie’s First Fight’ at Central Library on Thursday 12 May. Oliver Sykes also has a one-person stage play of ‘Alfie’s First Fight’ that will be touring libraries and youth centres across the city in June and July.” 

Danny Middleton continues: “It’s really important that children and young people who are care-experienced or come from low-income or non-traditional family units see positive role models in books they can identify with. That is why the work that Stories of Care is doing is so vital. We are excited to be working with them to get their brilliant new books into the hands of children across Manchester. 

Ruth Denton, a Youth Play Participation Manager, said: “A key theme of 2022: Our Year is around health and wellbeing. We know that reading can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, so it really is fantastic that we are able to partner with Libraries and Stories Of Care to provide books for young people.” Click here to find out more about 2022: Our Year.

Our Read for Our Year logo by Illustrator Ian Morris