A Hulme resident is set to receive a British Empire Medal in the Queens new year’s honours list for services to her community.
Sally Casey, a resident of Hulme since 1969, found out she would be receiving the award in November 2019, when she received a letter from the cabinet office in London.
This is in recognition of the tireless years of voluntary work that Sally has done, and for the 40 years of campaigning for improved living conditions for people in her community.
Speaking about the award, she told us:
“I don't see it as a manifestation of the work I put in, because I see it as work that simply needed to be done. It was necessary that somebody take on the work and I was never afraid of speaking and I felt that if we spoke confidently then we would be listened to.
“I didn't like injustice and there were people who were crying out for help and I always felt that by speaking up for people then I could help them”.
Sally came to the Manchester from the Republic of Ireland and was one of many Irish immigrants to the area around that time. Since arriving in Hulme, Sally has been at the heart of the community and is still active in fighting for social equality almost five decades later.
Described as a lynchpin of the community, she has been involved with a local community hub called the Aquarius Centre for more than 40 years. The centre acts as a meeting place for community groups, serves as a drop-in centre for help and advice on a variety of issues, as well as provides a place for young people in the area to play.
Sally started a tenant and resident group with the sole focus of getting the attention of the city council, so that issues such as poor, cramped living conditions and lack of community assets and support would be addressed.
“They began to realise that we were serious and that was how we began to get a lot of our issues solved.
“The group that we had here was the Aquarius Tenants Association, and we do solve an awful lot of people's problems. It was heart-breaking to listen to what people were telling us and hearing how they were living.
Sally got the city council to agree to build the Aquarius Community Centre where she operated as part of the chair of the board. After closing down, Sally fought to reopen the centre and in the last few years has been successful.
“It's now two years since it's been reopened, and it's brought the community back to life.
“There is so much going on here you'd need more than two hands to count it. Every activity that is going on here is welcomed by people in the community, as well as people outside of the community.
“People are joining loads of different groups and they keep coming back, and that shows you the success that this centre has for everybody”.