One of Hyde’s biggest success stories are aiming for even bigger things in the future.

POP is a community hub, which for 5 years has been expanding its influence from a base in the old Post Office building on Corporation Street.

Founder Jackie Francis used part of her own savings to get the Post Office Project off the ground, with the help of volunteers, back in 2017.

Initially it was a community cafe, with space for local artisans to display and sell their wares. More importantly it provided a safe space for local charities and mental health groups to hold regular drop-in meetings to give support to anyone requiring assistance.

The cafe area also allowed groups to flourish, such as the Monday Club and a Knit & Natter group, who welcomed anyone who was feeling lonely and isolated, to enjoy social interaction and friendship.

In 2019 a stage was built in the main cafe space, so live music gigs could take place at the venue, focusing on new bands playing original music. A late license bar was also created to help cover the cost of being a music venue.

When Covid hit in early 2020 the Project was forced to close its doors and all income streams came to a grinding halt, putting its survival in doubt.

Thanks to Jackie’s efforts, POP caught the eye of a national organisation, called the Music Venue Trust, who chose it to be just one of 30 live music venues to receive financial backing to secure its future.

Once the pandemic restrictions started to lift, live music returned, along with a new cafe team, who continued the previous success.

The venue has attracted some exciting new bands, as well as some Manchester legends, Tom Hingley and Clint Boon, who were both members of Manchester favourites the Inspiral Carpets. The number of other groups using the Project have also continued to grow, such as Action Together, Minds Matter and In-Work Tameside. A new group, helping youngsters leaving care homes, recently chose POP to launch what they do. The Post Office was also used by members of the LGBTQ+ community to perform a fundraising entertainment event that live streamed worldwide, raising over £52k.

All this activity has meant POP have outgrown their base and urgently required bigger and better suited premises, which would allow them to remain at the heart of the community they served.

Recent developments in Hyde has seen the main shopping precinct, The Mall, being purchased by Derry based Martin Property Group, one of 6 across the country they have invested in.

They appear keen to support redevelopment in the town centre area, particularly property which faces onto the Market Square.

After discussions with the POP management team, an agreement has been made for them to lease what was Brighthouse and the neighbouring upper floor solicitors’ offices.

The plan will be to create a bigger cafe space on the ground floor, with a generous entertainment space above. The neighbouring upstairs space will become a space for the various community groups, along with a creative arts space, to develop a new creative arts group that was recently launched.

POP was recently visited by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham (pictured outside POP with Jackie), who was guest of the Manchester branch of the Music Venue Trust, who chose POP to host their Manchester Music Commission meeting. Which is a group of artists, venue owners, agents etc, along with other interested parties, who aim to promote and protect Greater Manchester’s creativity industries.

The move to the new premises will hopefully start before the end of 2022 and relaunched as POP On The Square.

Jackie said she was extremely excited at the move and the opportunities it will allow in the future for the whole community.

The aim is to have a lift fitted in the building in an existing lift shaft. To help finance the work required a Crownfunding page has been set up, which has already attracted lots of donations.

POP are also one of three local charities, chosen by Asda Hyde, to benefit from their Green Token scheme, that people can vote on online to choose who gets the biggest share of a funding pot.

The Project has succeeded because of the effort of many volunteers and would welcome anyone who wishes to contribute.

Here’s to future POP success.

Andy Richardson