Sunday, April 30, 2017
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by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
From their name ‘Nervous ‘Orse’, to the sweeping moors that feature as a backdrop to their video for the song ‘Dead Is The New Alive’, the Bradford based four piece are undeniably influenced by their Yorkshire roots; and with their unique blend of individual musical influences and genres Nervous ‘Orse have created an original and exciting sound that has seen them gain a loyal and growing following, and become firm favourites on the local live circuit.

Keen to find out more about the ‘Orse I met up with them ahead of the forthcoming release of two new singles, and discovered a group of musicians whose personalities are as diverse as their sound, but whose talent and passion unites them in their mission to make good music – and get it heard.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

The band formed in 2014, originally as a three piece and having since added a fourth leg the four ‘Orse-men are: Dave McKinley (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), Luke Carter (Vocals/Electric Guitar), Jacob Riley (Vocals/Drums) and Danny Sapko (Vocals/Bass)

Their sound is built on the solid songwriting skills of Dave, described by his bandmates as “a kind man who writes thought provoking lyrics”, and Jake who in Dave’s words is “an enigma, probably the most talented musician I’ve ever worked with – and doesn’t write a poor song!”

On top of this steadfast songwriting foundation Luke brings his versatility and perfectionism as a guitarist, and bassist Danny, who, being heavily influenced by Motown and Soul, is jokingly cited by the rest of the band as “playing too many notes!”

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

Add to this the harmonies, melodies and swapping of lead vocals that altogether create a unique and original sound, so unique in fact that it has led to the band often being described as ‘genreless’. However, this is not so much because it’s impossible to ascribe their sound to any specific musical genres, but because the band are driven by the desire to make good music, without genre constraints, as their two new singles, ‘Libertine’ and ‘Here’s To You’ which differ hugely in style, serve to demonstrate.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

As the winners of ‘Outstanding Band 2016’ at the Grassroots Awards through the Yorkshire Gig Guide the band have clearly created a sound, style and audience experience that has put them in a field all of their own. Unanimous in agreement that winning the award is one of their proudest achievements so far it is by no means the only one of note. 2015 saw them being approached by a new local independent label Wide Mouth Records, and asked to sign, becoming the label’s inaugural band, followed by the release of their debut album ‘Where This Now Finds Us…’ later that year. They have also played at Bingley Music Live, Bradford Festival and on the main stage at Saltaire Festival. 2017 is already gaining pace for the ‘Orse as they eagerly look forward to the release of their two new singles, and a second album.

Not only are Nervous ‘Orse a band of talented, passionate musicians, they are also thoroughly good guys with boundless enthusiasm, integrity and heart. I’ll attest that when I heard ‘Here’s To You’ I found it emotionally impactful, and I felt the same when I learned that in 2015 the band released their single ‘Calling Orson’ which was written in memory of the late Robin Williams, as a ‘name your price’ or free download in support of #WorldMentalHealthDay (10th October) donating the proceeds from the track download to mental health charities.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

To find out more about the band, upcoming releases and gig dates LIKE, LISTEN and FOLLOW here:

Or catch them live on the following dates:

24th March at The Exchange, Russell Street, Keighley with Waiting For Wednesday and John Boxall – £5 OTD
7th April at ‘360 Club’ at Lending Room – The Leeds Library – Tickets £5
14th April at Al’s Dime Bar, North Parade, Bradford – Free entry
3rd July at Groovy Happening – £3 entry (no ticket needed) Monthly live music event and social gathering that is a fundraising initiative for Manorlands, Sue Ryder, held at Parkside Social Club, Haworth

Having worked in unions for over seventeen years, Leeds based Mizan Muqit is today the first Asian General Secretary of any British Trade Union.

Equality for Workers Union (EFWU) are an independent UK based workers union, working to change employer attitudes and support all workers equally. Mizan alongside his colleague, co-founded EFWU two years ago after working most of his career at BT and then O2 as a union official.

Mizan Muqit
Mizan Muqit

Born in the town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, in the East coast of Scotland, Mizan moved to Leeds in 1995 to study a post graduate in HR and then graduate at the city’s university. It was Leeds where Mizan decided to forge his career as he detected an up-and-coming city that would present him with more opportunities rather than returning to Scotland.

As his career progressed, he also witnessed forms of racial discrimination in the work place. But he quickly realised that these people needed help who were experiencing difficulties at the workplace mainly due to their race and religion. It was then that he decided to help others who were not aware of the help that was out there as he noticed many victims chose to stay silent as they were afraid of losing their jobs.

Speaking to Urban Echo, Mizan, 44, states: “My development was stifled by the other union for years that I worked with. Since I have set up EFWU, a high majority of union officials from the other union have not congratulated me. Some senior union officials said that I was going to fail. That made me more determined. It took a year of intensive interviews and checks by government officials to approve my application for a trade union. My co- founder and I spent thousands of pounds for the initial costs of creating a British trade union.

hgvhgv“Now, employers are intimidated by me as at times I have to be assertive and robust with them. I am a strong believer that knowledge is power. People do not know their rights at work and are not taken seriously.”

I have seen union member’s bonuses taken away, people developing disabilities during work due to the stress caused by employers. These are low paid jobs for people have no choice but to be bullied and victimised. My job is to put an end to this and let working people out there know that you should not have to endure any form of bullying and victimisation at work. Nobody should. “

Asked about EFWU, he continues: “We welcome everyone regardless of race, religion and ethnicity to our union. I have represented thousands of union members in Yorkshire and beyond.

We will support them. We will go over and beyond to help our union members. This union has been a dream. My aim is unionise companies in the public and private sector. Many companies in the private sector are not unionised. They don’t want a union because a union would demand better pay and a better working environment.

FullSizeRender“There is also a lack of awareness about trade unions. People are scared that if they approach a Union, they will be fired. By law, that cannot happen.

So what is a Trade Union and what do they do?

“For people not familiar with trade unions, we provide advice and information about employment law, discrimination acts, health and safety in the workplace and most importantly your employment rights. The UK Employment Equality Law is a body of law which legislates against prejudice-based actions in the workplace. As an integral part of UK Labour Law it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because they have one of the ‘protected characteristics’, such as age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation,” explains Mizan.

“Regarding discrimination, direct discrimination is treating a person less favourably than another who lacks the protected characteristic, is always unjustified and unlawful, except when there is a ‘occupational requirement’ which is a legitimate business justification accepted by a court. Indirect discrimination is also unlawful, and this exists when an employer applies a policy to their workplace that affects everyone equally, but it has a skewed impact on people with a protected characteristic when there is no good business justification for that practice. Other forms of discrimination include harassment and victimisation which are equally illegal.”

image1Mizan’s commitment to EFWU has seen his union grow to hundreds of union members in a short period of time and the union is growing currently at a rapid rate and word of mouth is spreading around the district rapidly about his and his co-founder’s abilities to bring employers to justice often resulting in tribunals where employers are forced to compensate and make changes to their internal policies. It is an individual’s legal right to join any union of their choice.”

But with his responsibilities and daily fight for workers’ rights and equality, Mizan knows that his role also brings with it his detractors. As he concludes, “I am probably one the most hated person by organisations in the public and private sector.

“But it does not bother me one bit. As long as I can keep fighting and continue to help change people’s lives for the better, I will continue to do so. I will never be in the pockets of employers”

If you feel you have been bullied or suffer from any other form of discrimination at a workplace, you can contact EFWU on, email: or by telephone on 0113 336 5261. EFWU are the first union to offer 24 hours and 7 days a week service including all bank holidays.


By Qainaat Aftab

It’s February and it’s the infamous month of Valentine’s Day.

Every year we see the capitalist notion where hundreds of red hearted balloons and red roses fill up the shop shelves. Valentine’s Day is nothing but a capitalist con and another way to make singletons feel left out.

couple-rezsizedI find it odd how some of my friends get so caught up on the idea of being alone on Valentine’s Day. In reality, it’s just another day. But listening to their conversation, I couldn’t help but find their plans hilarious and outlandish. Therefore I have decided to share them with you.

My friends came up with a plan called ‘What every girl should do on Valentine’s Day’. Be prepared as no doubt, you will find some of their ideas bizarre and funny.

Firstly, forget about secret Santa, how about a secret Valentine? It might be a little clichéd but you can get a little gift and no one will be complaining.

valentines-day-wallpaperSecondly, every group of single girl’s need a movie night in. As my friends suggested, do it Bridget Jones style.

Thirdly, go out and wine and dine in style with your friends. If you are on a tight budget, call all your friends over and have a one dish party. It’s a great way of catching up too.

The fourth idea came from the hit comedy series Friends. As ridiculous as it sounded to my ears, it might be a great thing to do for a laugh. So, why not have a cleansing ritual? Burn and leave all the negativity behind you to allow new and positive things to come into your life.

Last but not least, forget a romantic weekend break for two. Why not adventure and explore away with your friends and have a girl’s trip away for the weekend. I can guarantee you some of your best memories will come from that

Some of you may find it humorous and some may pick up some great ideas. Whichever one it is we’d love to hear from you.

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
Every year as Valentine’s Day approaches the high street becomes saturated with the colour red. From hearts and flowers to cards and gifts, vibrant window displays vie for our attention at every turn, and, as red has such a strong physical effect on us we can’t help but notice! Despite not being technically the most visible colour red gives the appearance of being closer than it is, so it gets our attention first. It also has a stimulating effect on the body, causing the pulse rate to rise, and can even activate our fight-or-flight response – hence it’s use in the traffic light system, car brake lights and warning signs the world over.

In modern society colour red has become synonymous with romantic love, desire and fertility, however it’s use in cosmetics dates back more than 10,000 years, as it is believed that women in ancient Egypt used red lipstick and rouge to enhance their appearance.

Those ancient Egyptian women were certainly onto something as pioneers of the painted red lip, and it’s power – which to this day should not be underestimated. Someone else who truly understood and capitalised on this was Coco Chanel, who when launching her own cosmetic line did so with a red lipstick. Since the launch of that the very first Le 1er Rouge in 1924 to the most recent Rouge Coco range, Chanel lipstick has evolved over the decades to become one of the most iconic make-up products of all time.

valentines-day-makeup-feature-OPTHaving spoken to many women about make-up through my work it seems to me that feelings about red lipstick are as varied as the range of shades out there on the market! From loving the look, but feeling it’s not for them, to not feeling complete without their ‘trademark red lippy’ everyone has an opinion about it.

My personal belief is that there is a red lip option out there for everyone. From the classic statement bold red lip, to the sheerest lip tint or stain so why not have fun finding, or even challenging your own red lip rules?

To help, here are my top red lip tricks and tips

When choosing a new shade If it’s not possible to test the product on your lips then apply it to the pad of one of your fingertips instead. The fingertips contain lots of blood vessels and are the closest skin colour to that of your lips. You can then hold your finger next to your face and see whether the shade works with your skin tone. This is more accurate than testing the lipstick on the back of your hand.

Find your perfect shade by first identifying your skin’s undertone. Cool skin tones suit true reds and blue-based reds, whereas coral or orange-based shades work well for warm skin tones.

Images-For-Valentine-DayIf you have a red lipstick in your make-up bag that isn’t working for you don’t be too quick to throw it away, you can adapt it to suit you either by applying either a sheer pink gloss over the top of it to make the shade bluer, or a gold gloss to make the shade warmer.

For the best result always prepare your lips prior to lipstick application. Use a lip scrub to remove dry or flaking skin and follow with a moisturising lip balm. You can also use lip balm to add gloss to a matte lipstick by applying it over the top.

Precision is key when applying red so outline your lips with a matching lip pencil to prevent bleeding, fill in your entire lip area with the pencil to create a base for your lipstick. This will ensure a longer lasting finish, and finally use concealer along the border of the outer lip to prevent the colour from bleeding.

Now go rock that red lip!

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
So here we are at the beginning of 2017! Personally, I love New Year, although I generally don’t go in for New Year’s Resolutions, I do like the feeling of a new year offering the opportunity for a fresh start. I enjoy making plans and setting goals for the months ahead; and harnessing the positive energy that I associate with this time of year. I also enjoy reflecting on the previous year and deciding which elements of my lifestyle I intend to build upon, and which to leave behind!

Beyond my own personal reflection, the New Year also prompts me to wonder what new beauty treats and trends 2017 might have in store for us, and which of those from 2016 will continue to grace our faces, or perhaps be consigned to cosmetic history!

One major trend that I believe we will see make an impact on the beauty industry (particularly at the beginning of the year we endure another few months of cold weather) is the influence of the Danish ‘hygge’ lifestyle trend that we saw take hold across the UK towards the latter part of 2016 – and was the subject of an interesting and insightful feature written by Janette Ward in the December 2016 issue of Urban Echo.

Simply put, hygge can be described as a quality of comfort, cosiness and conviviality. This lifestyle encourages us to take pleasure in the simple things in life, enjoying small daily rituals, deliberately slowing down, making and taking time to appreciate the joy of everyday activities. In my opinion hygge is the antithesis of the ‘do more, be more’ message that is often promoted around New Year, but in many ways I consider it to be a much more healthy approach to life, as it encourages us to find joy in that which we already have, and from a beauty perspective I believe that is something that many of us could truly benefit from in a society that often encourages us to constantly compare ourselves to others, and an industry which attempts to convince us that we can indeed buy hope in a jar!

hyggesockscreditshutterstockBut how exactly could hygge apply to beauty? My interpretation of it would be how we could embrace the philosophy to change our approach to our own beauty habits. For example, taking the time to perform our skincare routine fully, paying attention to each step and treating it as act of self-care, instead of another thing we ‘have to get done’. This could therefore see brands shifting their sales and marketing focus to how using a particular product will make us feel, and the promotion of the notion of beauty ‘rituals’. Of course beauty brands will make the most of this opportunity to maximize on this trend, focusing on promoting products which combine beauty with wellbeing, and I expect we’ll see an increase in popularity of holistic type products, including oils and body masks.

In contrast to this back to basics approach to beauty I think we will see an ever greater use of technology by brands, as seen most recently with numerous beauty brands creating their own Snapchat lenses, and will no doubt be aiming to step up their connections with consumers on Facebook using Facebook Live. It’s certainly an exciting time for the beauty and cosmetics industry.

However, if I could have only one wish for the beauty industry for 2017 it would be that we move much further towards a worldwide ban of the use of microbeads in the cosmetics and beauty industry, and recent reports suggest that end for microbeads may be indeed be in sight, with governments coming under increasing pressure to ben their use, and some companies introducing voluntary bans. Let’s hope this trend gains momentum throughout the year.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and beautiful New Year!

What beauty trends would you like to see in 2017? Tweet me @SarahUrbanEcho

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

Within moments of meeting with massage therapist Abie Ansari of Hands On Massage, it became abundantly clear to me that not only is Abie extremely knowledgeable about the subject of therapeutic massage, but she also has an enthusiasm for her work which is both infectious and inspiring.

Having experienced two different types of massage from the broad range of treatments, Abie offers (both equally wonderful and effective), I can attest that from the initial consultation, right through to the treatment follow-up, Abie works in a way that is both respectful and reassuring and following my treatments, on each occasion, I left the clinic feeling relaxed with troublesome muscle tension eased – and enjoyed the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time!

Keen to learn more about Abie’s work, and her distinctive approach to massage we met up. Over coffee, Abie offered a great deal of insight into the benefits of massage therapy, explained her background and journey to becoming a therapist – and also dispelled a few massage myths along the way!

Can you tell me how and why you became interested in massage therapy?

For me, it just seemed to be a natural progression coming from a science background with a science degree and interest in the functioning mechanics of the body that led from studying anatomy to an idea that a great many stresses and strains of modern day life maybe alleviated or even prevented through therapeutic massage. So, it seemed normal that I would go into something linked; but it was important that it should have a holistic element. One of the things that appealed to me is that massage branches off into lots of different areas and I decided to focus on a few areas. I initially chose to focus on pregnancy massage, 246229397_origprimarily because in the west there is a tendency towards viewing pregnancy as if it were an illness instead of a condition. There are a number of normal changes, and aches and pains associated with being pregnant, so I think for me, it was about offering a service which aims to normalize things, dispel a few myths and not just with pregnancy massage, but with massage in general. When you have clients approaching you, who are convinced that they have something really wrong with them, it becomes an educational forum to rationalize their fears, and help them understand that the human body does not always perform perfectly but, with therapeutic massage, the body can be encouraged to show progressive and sustainable improvements. It also offers a way to support, help and empower people in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example during pregnancy massage I am acutely aware of the need for a client to adhere to and communicate with her midwife and other medical professionals any changes, fears and apprehensions. Massage is very much an adjunct to other disciplines.

With all forms of massage it’s about the client taking time out for themselves and routinely taking care of their body. Whether it’s someone who is spending a great deal of time training in the gym, a client who is pregnant, or one that has perhaps lost a lot of weight; massage can be incorporated into this as part of the process. Assimilating this process can be seamless, and this is where I can help. It becomes a partnership between the client and the therapist, where I endeavor to teach each client ways in which they can help themselves, so in that way it also becomes an empowering process for them.

How would you explain the massage treatment/session process?

Upon initial contact, I take a detailed health history, so any concerns, misconceptions anyone may have about the treatment process can be discussed openly, honestly and any contra-indications will also be addressed. Additionally, it is important to understand the reasons for seeking treatment i.e. specific aches and pains, relaxation etc. This approach means that everything can be tailor made for that client and appropriate advice given. It also allows me to address any misconceptions there may be about the treatment, such as massage being unsafe during pregnancy or bamboo treatment being some sort form of brutal assault!

With any client that comes to me, if they have any concerns about their health, or conversely if I have any concerns that may give rise to a treatment being contra-indicated I will always recommend that clients seek advice from their GP prior to commencing any treatment.

 During bamboo massage I use a compressed piece of bamboo of various lengths, which is gently heated, and rolled over muscles, much as I would use my arms and hands. The level and depth of pressure is altered to suit the client’s own tolerance and need, very much like deep tissue massage/ sports massage. For example if someone is looking for a relaxing massage it can be worked at a level similar to that of a hot stone massage, but bamboo massage also offers that bit extra as it means that I can work with all of the muscle groups, because of the way the bamboo is heated. For example I am able to work over clothing and it allows me to work on larger muscle groups like the gluteus muscle. Naturally, I am always aware and respectful of people’s dignity, but yes, it offers a way of working with all the muscle groups that isn’t always possible with other types of massage, without compromising the client’s privacy and dignity.

It’s also important to develop an open and positive client-therapist relationship where clients feel able to highlight that a particular area of the body feels tight, or they’re concerned about something and we can work together to address that, and hopefully see improvements over a number of sessions.

What would you say are the main benefits of massage?

Massage helps to improve or maintain suppleness and fluidity of the muscles, improve range of movement, which is important as humans we are designed to move, we are not supposed to be rigid and wooden. The muscles have an important job to do, they may be supporting the back, or supporting an arm so it’s important that flexibility is maintained, and the muscles can do their job. Massage can help prevent soft tissues strains or injuries – massage almost wakes the muscles up, so they can do that job without any restrictions or limitations. For example I may use massage to help break down scar tissue or prevent its build up, or maybe a client has poor posture so we maybe working to improve that with massage, stretching and lengthening muscles and providing lifestyle advice; all these things work together to improve alignment and massage is wonderful for preparation for or recovery from strenuous workouts. It can reduce spasms and cramping. It also improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.

Massage offers a fantastic way for people to have a little time out for themselves, to relax, and for some it’s that ‘hands on’ touch, which is so important. This is a big part of the pregnancy and baby massage work I do.

Baby massage, helps with bonding, helps to establish a routine with the baby (usually from about 6 weeks) in my classes, it’s a one-to-one process between the parent and the baby, I don’t massage the baby at all, and I use a doll called Tilly! I also offer a Dads group as I feel it’s important to have a Dad’s only session so that they have an opportunity to build support networks that they can link into, whether they’re a first time Dad or not.

What kind of feedback do you receive from clients?

I find that pregnancy massage clients come to me and say that they have enjoyed the best nights sleep ever and when can they book in again! The sense of relief for some of my clients is huge, it’s a special time and some aches and pains can detract from that and I feel my job is to assist with that.

I recently had client come to me for warm bamboo massage, who was a little skeptical stating that they were accustomed to a heavy sports massage. After an hour they left and I was so worried that nothing was said but the following morning I was touched to have received the following text…

“Hi Abie, just wanted to say that although I felt pummeled and viewed the bamboo sticks with horror and fear… I am a new person, no aches or pains, no bruising … I am booking again! Walking tall today!!”

I feel really touched that most of my feedback has been positive and it is quite humbling really…we all like a compliment! And additionally it helps me address areas that I may need to improve upon.

Abie currently works from the following locations:
Saltaire Therapy (Wednesday)
Skipton Spirit of Pilates (Thursday)
Ilkley Complementary Clinic (Friday)
Also starting at Neals Yard Leeds soon (Saturday)

 For further details, or to book an appointment please email or visit


Bradford based MJK Sports are proud to bring you an audience with boxing great SUGAR RAY LEONARD at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre, Bradford on November 28.

Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Sugar Ray competed from 1977 to 1997, winning world titles in five weight divisions, the lineal championship in three weight divisions; as well as the undisputed welterweight title.

image1Along with Roberto Duran, Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns, and ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler, Leonard was part of “The Fabulous Four”, a group of elite fighters who all boxed each other during one of the sport’s greatest eras.

At this unique sporting event in Bradford, you will hear all about the rivalries from SUGAR RAY, the man who was at the forefront of it all.

On the night you will see highlights from all of the legendary fights on our giant screens and hear from the man himself about what it was like starting at the Montreal Olympics right the way through to the golden era of boxing.

VIP guests are guaranteed to meet the man himself and have a picture with the boxer, who is arguably second only to Muhammad Ali on the list of history’s greatest pugilists.

Tickets are available from just £20 per person

Avoid online booking fees by calling 07414 960 956


by Janette Ward
by Janette Ward

This month I would like to share with you about Wellness Tools and about a friend and colleague, Pete Scotcher, who is inviting you to a celebration that includes a sharing of wellness tools.

The first step for someone in developing their own Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is to develop a Wellness Toolbox. This is a list of things you have done in the past, or could do, to help you stay well. These are things that you could do to help yourself feel better. I explained in a previous article how having a WRAP plan for the past 12 years has enabled me to work, care for my family, be resilient and enjoy life.

To give you an idea of what wellness tools can be, here are some examples of some of mine: dancing; yoga; journaling; being by the sea; being with my granddaughters; spending time with friends; meditating; reading; work; doing the 5 Rites; oil pulling; listening to the radio; cloud watching; buying flowers; wearing hand cream; having an early night; playing games; watching hot air balloons; going to the cinema; having unplanned time; learning new things; hearing the wood pigeon, etc.

woman-happinessI have lots of things and I have them in a colourful list on my wall at home to remind me of the things I can do to make myself feel better quickly and easily.

I am currently working with Barnardos to deliver a WRAP course to some children aged between 8 years and 13 years and they have created ‘Happy Boxes’. They are like shoe boxes that they decorate with words and pictures that they like and they put things into the boxes that they like. For example music, photographs, chocolate, CD’s, comics or magazines, nail varnish, shells, books, a diary lots of things that they can look at that will help them to feel better.

I have worked with Pete delivering WRAP courses and training for the past 5 years. Here is his story…

Hi, I’m Pete Scotcher. In 2013 I decided to leave my post as an occupational therapist in the NHS, and focus on providing peer support groups. The last three years have been full of learning, as I move from being an employee to being self-employed. There have been many heart-warming moments as groups of people work together to learn and grow. You are invited to Brium’s 3rd Birthday Party, a celebration of wellness tools and peer support. Here are some thoughts from my experiences in groups, with an explanation of what peer support can be.

What is a peer?

In peer support groups, people are seen as experts in their own lives. The facilitator does not give advice. As a facilitator I mention my own struggles and solutions. Each member has an equal opportunity to talk from personal experience. People learn from hearing each other. This approach allows space for all group members to take responsibility for decisions about health and wellbeing.

What is support?

Support comes from the course structure, facilitators, and group members. Brium uses a researched method called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, which was developed by people with experiences of illness and distress. The structured plan provides a way to organise skills and resources for being well. Skilled facilitators guide a group discussion so that members are heard. The conversations keep moving and have a hopeful feel. The greatest support comes from group members, as people share ideas and stories. By the end of a course, each member comes away with an experience of being supported and supporting others.

Peers and support together

The combination of peers and support is a powerful mix. I have seen people go from being very quiet and reserved to laughing out loud during the tea break. Members have set up ongoing groups, so that people can continue to benefit from regular group meetings. This method has a central place in health services and organisations. Peer support networks increase people’s access to personal power. This leads to better parenting, skilled studying, working more effectively, and less time off due to illness. Any organisation that adopts peer support will see success in any goals they aim to achieve.


By Jim Greenhalf

Thirty-five years ago, after Peter Sutcliffe was captured by South Yorkshire police and confessed to being the Britain’s biggest mass murderer, the man the media dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper told psychiatrists that he was driven by a voice telling him that God wanted him to clean up the streets by killing prostitutes.

33407In reality the bearded chap who lived in the nice suburban pebble-dashed semi in Bradford’s Garden Lane was less discriminating: he attacked anyone who was alone and vulnerable with his ball-pein hammer and sharpened screwdriver. His victims included 16-year-old Jayne McDonald in Leeds, Halifax bank clerk Josephine Whitaker and students Barbara Leach in Bradford and Jacqueline Hill in Leeds. Although married, Sutcliffe and his Polish wife Sonia didn’t have any children. In the five or six years of his nocturnal reign of terror in Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Manchester and Halifax – his favoured killing ground – he murdered 13 women and orphaned 23 children. Marcella Claxton was four months pregnant when Sutcliffe attacked her in Leeds. She lost the baby in a miscarriage.

Among the children orphaned by Sutcliffe were Richard and Sonia McCann. Their mother Wilma McCann was found dead on land not far from the family home in Leeds, in October, 1975. She died from blows to the skull and stab wounds to various parts of her body. Richard and his sister – there were two other siblings – were young children. Sonia struggled for more than 30 years to come to terms with the slaughter of her mother. In December, 2007, at the age of 39, she committed suicide. Her brother Richard, who had been in and out of prison as a young man, was struggling to overcome the psychological side-effects of his mother’s murder. His sister’s death – she became Sutcliffe’s 14th known victim – was another mountain for him to climb. But he succeeded. How he did it can be read in his two books Just a Boy and the sequel A Boy Grows Up.

Last month the news came out that Sutcliffe, approaching 70, was considered mentally well enough to be moved from Broadmoor special hospital to a secure prison. Dr Mike Berry, clinical forensic psychologist told BBC Radio’s Shaun Ley that at the time of Sutcliffe’s trial: “Four psychiatrists, two for the defence, two for the prosecution, agreed that he was paranoid schizophrenic… With the use of medication they have got his mental state under control. The prison system won’t be easy for somebody in his seventies, he will be treated as a Category A prisoner with very little control over his life…”

Richard McCann admitted that he used to be full of hatred for the former Bradford grave-digger and lorry driver. But since marrying and having three children that rage has subsided. He recently told an interviewer: “He was like a family member for many years, the uncle who embarrasses you; but my thoughts about him have changed over the years. I won’t be celebrating the fact that he’s going to prison. I forgave him in 2010. I don’t mean I am a friend; but feelings of anger and bitterness have gone.”

These days we try to make sense of the inexplicable or the irrational by avoiding the use of terms such as good and evil. In 1978, long before the concept of serial killing entered the language, I was disposed to think that anyone who denied the reality of evil should be taken to a murder site, preferably at night.

PETER_SUTCLIFFE_1614684aOne Saturday morning in January, 1978, I was on news duty in the Telegraph & Argus along with a colleague, David Warner. A 21-year-old Bradford woman, Yvonne Pearson, had gone missing and we had acquired her address, 4 Woodbury Road, a small terraced house behind Lumb Lane. We drove there. The front door was not locked. I pushed it open and walked into a dimly-lit, sparsely furnished front room. A black man seemed to be asleep, stretched out on a sofa. We didn’t linger, 30 seconds, a minute at most. That gloomy, gas-lit interior stayed with me. Yvonne Pearson had gone missing on a Saturday evening after making tea for her daughters, two-year-old Lorraine and five-month-old Colette and leaving them to be looked after by a 16-year-old neighbour. After tidying her bleach-blonde Joanna Lumley basin cut and dressed in black flared slacks, black turtle-neck jumper and stripy jacket, she had gone out. She was last seen alive at 9.30pm shouting to an Asian man in Church Street, not far from her home.

Her partly-decomposed body was found two months later under an old sofa on waste-ground at Whetley Hill. The site was later developed as a community centre. Her black leather bag contained an address book with 36 names, addresses and telephone numbers, a near empty purse and a pair of scissors – the weapon she carried to protect herself against the Yorkshire Ripper. Yvonne Pearson was due to appear in court on January 26 to answer a charge of soliciting. With two previous convictions she was expecting to be sent to prison if found guilty. She needed money to look after her little girls and, on what was to be her last night on earth, she probably needed cheering up. Instead she met Peter Sutcliffe. “It’s just my luck to get knocked on the head,” she used to tell friends. To paraphrase the old blues song, without bad luck some people have no luck at all. Lorraine and Colette were taken into care and the windows and door of little house on Woodbury Road were filled with breeze-blocks.

One Friday night in the same January, I was on late duty. A routine call to West Yorkshire police disclosed that the body of a young woman had been found in a wood-yard in Huddersfield. Officers from the Ripper Squad were in attendance. The late-night photographer gathered his cameras, rolls of film and flashes and drove me to Huddersfield. The night was cold and rainy. If this was a Ripper killing it would be his eighth. A few piles of planks separated me from the body of 18-year-old Helen Rytka – a fearful idea to contemplate, not at all thrilling in the sense of a reporter taking a walk on the wild side. There was something in the air, intangible though it might be, that made my flesh tingle with horror and perhaps pity. Whatever the extent of the attack, blood had been spilled on this site. Life had been ripped out like a wire from a plug. Terror, pain and shock had been inflicted. Helen Rytka had died alone in the dark of that freezing wood-yard. She had not expected to die that night. An act of evil had been committed there. I felt like a trespasser.

Peter_Sutcliffe_PicDM_350484616At that time reggae was popular and was played on juke-boxes in pubs along Lumb Lane, pubs like The Perseverance, The Queens and The Flying Dutchman, Yvonne Pearson’s favourite haunt. Whenever I hear any of the Bob Marley classics – Jammin’, Redemption Song, Is it Love? – that time and place come back immediately. It was in one of these pubs that I found a prostitute to interview, at the request of T&A news editor Don Alred. The prostitute worked out of an upstairs flat at the junction of Carlisle Road and Lumb Lane. One thing she said stood out: “We are going to know this man.” Don Alred, who used to be the paper’s crime reporter, was of the opinion that the Ripper was a Bradford man; he wasn’t taken in for a minute by the hoax “I am Jack” Ripper tape that so badly diverted the West Yorkshire police investigation and embarrassed the-then Chief Constable Ronald Gregory and Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, head of the Ripper Squad.

On the last page of Michael Bilton’s 2003 book about the Yorkshire Ripper – Wicked Beyond Belief – Sir David Phillips, formerly Chief Constable of Kent, says this about serial killers: “The serial killer will always be the most difficult sort of case to investigate. We are talking about someone who attacks randomly and there is no linkage between the victim and the killer, and that is what makes it difficult to detect. It is not that there is no motive, there is a motive, but the victim has been selected as a prey might be selected.”

Bilton, who worked for The Sunday Times, characterises Sutcliffe as a “sick and perverted murderer”, so “pathetic and twisted” that any contact with him would be “worthless”. His book takes issue with Sutcliffe’s courtroom defence. Sutcliffe pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The Prosecution accepted the plea, but the trial judge, Sir Michael Havers, didn’t. The medical evidence was based on what Sutcliffe had told psychiatrists, he said, and ought to be put to a jury. The jury found Sutcliffe guilty of murder.

Bilton attributes another dozen hammer assaults and murders to Sutcliffe, including two attacks on men. If Sutcliffe attacked men his claim that he was told by the voice of God to destroy women prostitutes doesn’t hold up. Thirteen years ago Bilton was saying that Peter Sutcliffe should be serving his life sentences in a prison, not Broadmoor High Security Hospital.

Before DNA testing, ordinariness is what made repeat killers such as Sutcliffe, Dr Harold Shipman – Doctor Death – and nurse Beverley Allitt – the Angel of Death – so hard to detect and bring to justice. Sutcliffe, don’t forget, was interviewed on nine occasions by West Yorkshire Police and aroused the suspicion of at least one officer, Andrew Laptew. But his notes got lost in the Ripper hunt’s card index system of shoeboxes. Before Sutcliffe’s capture, more than 250,000 interviews with men all over Northern England were on file. The computer age was only just dawning. Shipman and Allitt were also protected by operating in one of the caring professions.

If Peter Sutcliffe had been an obvious physical monstrosity like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, he would not have killed for as long as he did. Women would not have gone with him. He had a soft, high voice, a cheeky sense of humour and raffish good looks. And a quarter of a century after he was given 20 life sentences for killing 13 women and seven attempted murders, women still wrote him love letters and fan mail.

Myra Hindley was a vivacious-looking young woman who had no trouble persuading youngsters to help her look for her lost dog. She drove four of them to Saddleworth Moor where Ian Brady raped and murdered them. Hindley watched. A fifth, 17-year-old Edward Evans, was attacked with an axe and battered to death in the house that Hindley and Brady shared. In the audio tape that the pair made of ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey, they encouraged the little girl to call them “mummy” and “daddy” while they tormented her and then tortured and killed her. Violating and killing youngsters excited and stimulated Brady and Hindley. They thought that killing in this way made them special.

Of all the other serial killers I can think of – Fred and Rose West, Dennis Nilsen, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson’s Family, Andrei Chikatilo – only two might be considered exceptions: Dahmer and Chikatilo. Both were manifest social failures for whom killing offered a form of sublimation for what they needed but lacked in ordinary life. Most of the others had the ability to charm or persuade their victims. In this respect serial killing could be thought of as a form of seduction. Incidentally, serial killers are not necessarily mass murderers. In a matter of minutes, Michael Ryan shot dead 14 people in Hungerford in 1987, and Thomas Hamilton shot dead 15 primary school children and a teacher in Dunblane in 1996. Both men lost control, lashed out and then, as though in expiation for what they had done, killed themselves. Peter Sutcliffe still lives, principally because the death penalty in Britain was abolished in 1965.

While anyone is capable of behaving violently, most people are beyond the carefully-considered stratagems of a premeditated and sustained campaign of murder. Everything I have read, seen or heard on the subject of serial killers – fictional books and films excluded – points to three prime motives.

Some are motivated by feelings of intense anger and contempt, others by feelings of personal inadequacy, darkness and despair. Some of the predators named here – Chikatilo, Dahmer, Nilsen, Bundy, Gacy, Shipman, plus Halifax-born John Reginald Christie, fall into one of these two categories. A third motive is power or pleasure – some just get a kick out of killing. Sutcliffe, Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Fred and Rosemary West, enjoyed stepping over the line, inflicting their power on others and then making a fool out of the authorities. Sex was also a factor although not in every case; nor in every murder.

Dysfunctional sad sacks like Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen kept the bodies of their victims, or parts of their bodies, close at hand. Reginald Christie and Fred and Rose West buried the bodies of their victims in and around their homes at 10 Rillington Place and 25 Cromwell Street, respectively. Not because they had a morbid fixation about the dead; they just wanted to get rid of the evidence as quickly and conveniently as possible. Dahmer, a sweet factory worker in Milwaukee, and Nilsen, a civil servant in London’s Muswell Hill, could only have relationships with young men after killing them. Dahmer especially feared loneliness. Death was a way of making and preserving a relationship. They killed 30 between them. John Wayne Gacy raped and murdered up to 33 young men, burying the bodies in the basement of his detached Chicago home. Unlike Dahmer, he was popular in his local community, was active in the Democratic Party, and on one occasion got himself photographed with the-then First Lady Rosalyn Carter. He hosted street parties and entertained children as Pogo the Clown. Gacy was twice married. He was also an ex-con, sentenced to ten years for raping a teenage boy. He served 18 months and was released back into the community.

Ted Bundy was good-looking, church-going like Gacy, socially charming and a law student. Mothers said he’d make the perfect husband. But he declared war on society in general and females in particular, killing at least 28 of them in Oregon, Utah and Florida. The trigger for him had been pornography. His intense fascination with sexual fantasies began as a boy. As Bundy physically matured he became obsessed with the idea of sadistic sex which, in turn, made him feel deeply ashamed. Shame enraged him. On the lookout for victims, the charming young man would have had no trouble either picking up girl hitch-hikers or persuading them to let him into their rooms. The day before his execution Bundy told psychologist James Dobson that the inhibitions of his upbringing had kept him in check until he started drinking. Alcohol released him from the conflict of his inner tensions. Interestingly, Bundy warned against the dangers of pornography, as Lord Longford, Mary Whitehouse and Barbara Cartland had done in this country. On his last day on earth Bundy accepted responsibility for what he had done and, appalled by all the pain and misery he had inflicted, also accepted that he should forfeit his life.

Fred and Rosemary West, a plausible pair on the surface, had little trouble attracting young female lodgers to their Gloucestershire home. But their friendliness and jollity were masquerades. They were sexual predators, excited by pornography and sado-masochism, who between them killed a dozen mainly young women over a 20-year period. West sometimes liked to watch his wife having sex with other men in the upstairs of their home. The house was demolished after the pair were caught and convicted. Fred West subsequently hanged himself.

There has never been a definitive number put on the victims of Harold Shipman, the doctor who worked in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The authorities believe he may have killed up to 250 of his patients. Shipman, who killed himself in jail, refused to discuss his crimes. Michael Eaton’s 2002 television docu-drama showed the world’s biggest serial killer to be outwardly kindly and considerate. “Doctor Fred,” as he was known among his patients, was always willing to oblige with home visits, especially to elderly women. They trusted Shipman. He took advantage of that by administering lethal injections and, in some cases, defrauding them of money and valuables.

If serial killers are driven by a compulsion that they cannot control, psychopaths simply enjoy killing. Dr Harold Shipman and nurse Beverley Allitt contradicted society’s sentimental assumptions about professional carers’. Forensic chemistry professor Robert Forrest was interviewed on this subject ten or 11 years ago. He said that some people attracted to the medical and nursing professions are power-hungry. “Some go into the medical field because of the social status it confers, and some because it puts them in a position of power.

“Within nursing, an occasional individual entering the profession with such motivations may go into paediatric nursing, which is where a lot of problems have developed, as with Beverley Allitt. I think many of these people (who have later harmed patients) have gone off the rails during their training, and the current climate of making excuses for this and being too forgiving is not in the interests of society as a whole. We should have a lower threshold for excluding people from the caring professions, from qualifying or continuing to practise. If Shipman had been nailed good and proper when he was caught squirting pethidine into himself while practising in Yorkshire, how many lives would have been saved? A lot.”

The media labels serial killers as beasts; but predatory animals tend to kill for food: only Man kills for pleasure. Most serial killers have the everyday appearance of ordinary people. Peter Sutcliffe was said to be kindly to children, good pub company, in most respects an ordinary Joe. But Sutcliffe did not think of himself in that way. In the cab of his lorry he had a sign exhorting the world to take notice: In this truck is a man whose latent genius, if unleashed, would rock the nation, whose dynamic energy would empower those around him. Better let him sleep. Those who knew Sutcliffe thought he was just like them: he thought he was extraordinary.

Thirty-five years ago the euphoria and sense of release that greeted the news of Peter Sutcliffe’s capture was not readily understood by the liberal-minded further south. What about the idea of being innocent until being proved guilty in a court of law? They did not understand the fear that Peter Sutcliffe created. Most people have forgotten the Reclaim the Night vigils and marches that took place in 1977. Feminists argued that women should not be expected to stay indoors, obeying a self-imposed nocturnal curfew, to save the authorities the trouble of properly policing the streets. Men were advised to avoid walking behind solitary women late at night. This state of general anxiety intensified as the attacks and killings continued through the 1970s. Peter Sutcliffe may not be the man now that he was then. Nevertheless what he did won’t be forgotten or, for most people, forgiven.

. Part of this article is based on 6 Garden Lane, a chapter in Jim Greenhalf’s book It’s a Mean Old Scene: A History of Modern Bradford From 1974.

by Naz Shah MP
by Naz Shah MP

Friday 22nd of July 6.11pm the text I received read….”don’t know if you’ve heard of the recent death of a Bradford girl… murdered just because she married a Shia… these so called honour killings are becoming frequent and it needs to be addressed… if you can’t get involved then point me to the people who can..”

Samia Shahid was murdered in cold blood. There is no honour involved. If we are to understand the drivers of this type of crime, a crime which is all about control, then we need to understand that these crimes are driven by the shame felt, more than likely by a man, because of the behaviour of a woman.

Whilst the father of this Bradford girl and her ex husband are now in custody, the focus for this article is not the criminal case as that is going through the legal process. However, what we can’t and must not do is not have the wider discussions because they are subjects which are taboo and off limits.

For me this tragedy raises many concerns on many different levels, which I’m hoping to explain the best I can.

Samia Shahid

We have pockets of patriarchy in all communities. We have violence against women in all communities and fundamentally we must accept that the umbrella under which they all fall is that of power and control of women. And let us also be clear it is not confined to any particular race, religious affiliation or class. It has zero boundaries. The desire of control and power transcends them all.

The tapestry of each community is unique. Communities are fluid as are cultures and at any one time we can, as individuals, belong to more than one community and more than one culture. As a British Muslim woman, a feminist, a mother and an MP of Pakistani heritage, I enjoy so many different experiences and cultures which is such a huge blessing for me. Our shared values transcend any differences. I’m equally comfortable in the chamber in Parliament doing what I do weekdays as I am on a Sunday afternoon cooking a bunch of ‘prathay’ with chicken curry and ‘achar’ for my kids.

But the journey to be who I am today hasn’t always been so comfortable. Coming from a community where the concept of ‘izzat’ or ‘honour’ is used as the measuring yard stick of all things acceptable, especially when it comes to women, can be at the best of times challenging and in the worst cases life threatening. It can be a huge hindrance to the progression of communities… particularly women.

This is against a backdrop of having multiple identities and cultures which can also be conflicting.

And here lies the difference. Whatever we do, should be about our happiness, to live our lives to our full potential. However, when a woman’s happiness and choices are not in line with those conducts which are governed by the concept of ‘izzat’ and expected behaviours within patriarchal structures, we then come across crimes of control.

As with all tragedies, lessons are learnt and people’s thinking is influenced and developed through discussion and challenge. This case is no different. Whilst I hope there will never be another Samia, I’m afraid the reality is I do not have that level of confidence, not yet anyway. But what I do know is that the community is talking about these issues. When I scroll down comments on many social media platforms and papers comments sections, it gives me some hope. People are challenging each other and in the process educating others.

But we need more, much more if we are to shift thinking to a place where we as communities are empowering our women and girls to be the best they can be, how they choose to be. Because by empowering women we are building our whole community, and until we don’t value the role that women play, we will not thrive as people and as communities.

It takes an inclusive approach to build resilient and progressive communities and that’s what must happen.

We must allow people to self define who and what they are or want to become and support each other to reach for our own stars.

And for those who are at risk, we must make sure we do our best so they can access the right support, should they ever need it.

Beyond our immediate communities, we have the wider issue of leadership and government. Community organisations must also play their part and create dialogue and space for people to explore the issues that matter to them and for my part I will lobby for more awareness and potential changes within the law following the learning from this most recent loss of life.

For the meantime, what I would say is that communities have their own solutions and we have it within us to change our narratives and own our issues and to this end I need your support. The Samia’s of this world need your support to ensure we don’t have more Samia’s. I would ask that readers discuss this issue with at least one more person and share this article because the information around support is crucial for people who may be at risk.

How you can help:

If you know someone who might be at risk encourage them to seek support.

If you or a friend do travel then make sure you let others know about your fears and as many details about your travel and living arrangements when abroad.

Make sure that you have with you important details such as passport numbers and consular details before travelling.

If a member of the public want to alert the foreign office, that they have concerns that something untoward may have happened to a family member or friend, believe that they me be in danger or are simply concerned for their welfare, they can call the FCO 24 hours a day on 0207 008 1500.

If a member of the public wishes to contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) direct during normal working hours they can do so by calling 0207 008 0151. FMU are also contactable on their team email address at or via their Facebook page at

Below are the links on GOV.UK to the Forced Marriage Unit guidance, our “guide for bereaved families” and our “death overseas” guide.

Forced Marriage:

Guide for Bereaved Families:

Death Overseas guide:

And finally, the safeguarding of our community is everyone’s business and responsibility so let’s work together to build tolerance and trust because our futures depend on it.

Naz Shah
Member of Parliament
Bradford West
Twitter: @nazshahbfd