Graffiti artwork in Stevenson Square, Manchester.

The Meteor asked photographer Gary Roberts to take some photos of ‘Real Manchester’ – the unique face of the city caught in glimpses by those who live it every day. Here’s what he came back with. If you attended our listening event on 16 and 17 November, you’ll have seen these pictures already. This is the story behind them.

As Manchester continues with an unseasonably warm Autumn following record-breaking temperatures for the planet, the country and locally during the summer, the climate is not the only reason for a feeling of uncertainty in the city. And yet, anti-vax and climate change conspiracy theorists seemed undeterred at their demonstration in St Peter’s Square in early November, despite all the evidence against their beliefs.

Anti Vax and climate change conspiracy theorists in St Peter's Square
Anti-vax and climate change conspiracy theorists in St Peter’s Square.

While the Christmas markets and festive lights have kick-started the annual shopping rush, many Mancunians will be considering their finances in the light of the delayed autumn statement and the result of ongoing pay disputes with an understandable degree of financial trepidation.

Christmas lights on a shop display seen in the background of a photo taken on a tram platform in Manchester.
Spending priorities
A closed-down shop in Manchester.
Closing time

Nursesteacherscivil servantsambulance workersthe fire brigadeuniversity staff and Royal Mail employees could contribute to the biggest strike action seen in the UK since the winter of discontent in 1979. This, along with the escalating cost of living crisis, can only serve to unsettle both Manchester’s traders and their clients. A recent GMCA survey of residents showed that 58% of respondents already feel either a high or marginal degree of food insecurity.

Three old carved pumpkins left out in the park after Halloween.
Old pumpkins left in Hullard Park, Old Trafford, the day after Halloween.
Medical anatomical model in Insitu architectural salvage  shop window, Old Trafford.
It’s amazing what you can find in Manchester if you know where to look (this anatomical model was spotted in Insitu, Old Trafford).

This level of financial worry seems a world away when walking past the mushrooming new apartment blocks that continue to proliferate across the city’s skyline.  Dwayne, who was practicing basketball in Hulme Park felt, however, that these towering new developments seemed “remote” from other areas of the city. 

A basketball player jumps to score a slam-dunk in Hulme Park, Manchester.
Hulme is just outside the growing city centre, for now.
The Glade of Light memorial, set in gardens adjoining the Cathedral and the National Football Museum.
Remembering those killed in the Manchester Arena bombing.

3 November also saw the release of the second report into the Manchester Arena Bombing on 22 May 2017. This report focused on the emergency response and was highly critical of the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme.

The sign for a community allotment in Spinningfields, Manchester city centre
Get away from it all in the heart of the city.

It is a testimony to Greater Manchester’s spirit that many aspects of city life and community still thrive amid this background of such adversity. City based artworks emergeurban cohesion continues with individualcommunity and local authority initiatives. The city grows, albeit with some heartache, setbacks and sideways steps along the way.

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All images: Gary Roberts

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  • Gary Roberts

    A photojournalist and writer who covers conservation and social issues worldwide. Founder of Education background includes BSc Zoology at Leeds University and an MSc at The University of Manchester in International development poverty, conflict and reconstruction. Gary studied and later taught photojournalism at Speos Photographic institute. His work has involved numerous conservation and social justice groups including The Fairtrade foundation, Oxfam, ABRU Animal Behaviour Research Unit, SOS Lynx, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, TANAPA, and APOPO. Publications include UK National and International Press.


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