Pankhurst Centre smashes crowdfunding goals two days before deadline

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A CROWD-FUNDING campaign to create a Suffragette Garden as a haven for women has reached its £20,000 target ahead of schedule.

The Pankhurst Centre  had launched a  35-day crowdfunding campaign last month to develop its outside space in Manchester as an oasis for women.

Fundraising and development manager Bex Shindler said: “We’re absolutely over the moon, we’ve got over £20,000 with 470 supporters.

“It was a 35-day campaign, so we had a really good spike at the beginning and then donations came trickling in throughout.”

The plaque commemorating Emmeline Pankhurst outside the centre that used to be her home

The Pankhurst Centre is a national heritage site, and a huge part of the history of the Suffragette movement.

Shindler explained: “We’re 62 Nelson Street in Manchester, which is where Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters lived, and where they founded the suffragette movement.

“The parlour at the back is the room where the first women’s social and political union took place, you get that eerie feeling when you walk in the room of all that history’s been there,” she said.

The back doors in the parlour lead out into the garden, which has fallen into bad conditions due to a lack of money to keep it going.

The suffragette garden has not been tended over the years due to a lack of funds.

2018 is a special year in the Suffragette timeline, making the project to restore the garden even more important for the centre.

“2018 is 100 years on from women securing the right to vote in the UK, so we thought it would be a huge tribute to Emily and her daughters to re-create the garden, and make a space for women and children that have been abused,” said Shindler.

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Alongside the museum, the building is home to Manchester Women’s Aid, a charity that provide support and housing for women and children escaping from abuse, as well as being a rape crisis centre.

“We have a lot of vulnerable women who come through and use the space. It’s used by women all over the city who need that extra support, so having the garden to use as that space would be incredible.”

The museum is open Thursdays and every second and fourth Sunday of the month, and is run by volunteers.

“For staff, our priority is supporting women and children, so we haven’t had the cash injection we really need to the heritage side of the museum, so the garden is one step in that process.”

The centre is putting in a national lottery bid in 2018, in order to get the building running more regularly as a museum open every day.

Shindler described how the garden will look once it’s finished: “It will partly be a nice space, but it will also tell the story of the suffragette movement.

“We’re working with a garden design company called Wardell Armstrong, who have some great creative ideas on how to tell the story.”

The garden is intended to be a little piece of history, which is a beautiful space as well as being informative.

Shindler said: “There’s different things that represent that story, so it will be a heritage experience in itself, and a learning process.

The Pankhurst Centre in Nelson Street, Manchester

“The suffragette colours were purple green and white, so that will be the theme that runs through in terms of colours.”

The centre chose crowdfunding as a fast way to get the funding they need, after a fantastic opportunity came their way: “The National Trust and the RHS are really keen to showcase the garden at Tatton Park Flower Show 2018, before it’s replanted at the Pankhurst Centre.

“That would be incredible for us because we’re such a small charity, so it will raise massive profile, and next year is perfect because of the centenary, but we had to put the application in really soon, so we needed to make sure the new garden was funded first,” said Shindler.

The centre also wanted to use crowd funding to allow the people of Manchester to be part of the project, and get involved with something they’re passionate about.

Shindler said: “We just wanted as many people as possible to be involved because it’s the city’s story, it’s not just the Pankhurst Centre and our women here, its Manchester’s story.

“Every person who has donated is part of making the garden happen, and that’s what’s really nice about crowdfunding- it will be a real community garden that the city of Manchester has pulled together itself,” she said.

The garden will hopefully begin renovations in the Summer of 2018.

To find out more, follow the center on social media, or visit the crowd funding page. 

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