By Bruce Barnes

The Manningham Project has provided a free, comprehensive generalist advice service in the Manningham and Heaton area of Bradford for almost 50 years.

We work from our Lumb Lane advice centre and see clients here as well as in multiple outreach locations within the Bradford West area.

We are partly financed by Bradford Metropolitan District Council, by the Bradford VCS Alliance as well as additional funding over the years from the National Lottery and from the Henry Smith Charity.

Last year we provided 1,243 client appointments, securing £561,728 in welfare benefits for clients and to stabilising £47,200 of debt.

The Project has a considerable history, part of which one of the current trustees has endeavoured to capture.

The Manningham Project’s charity objects envisage ‘a common effort to advance education and to provide advice in the interest of social welfare with the objects of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants’ of BD8 and BD9.’

In 1973 advice for people living in the ward was much needed, as Bradford Council’s redevelopment plan for the area bounded by Heaton Road and Carlisle Road, Manningham, prompted a wave of concern among residents. Their homes were to be compulsorily purchased, and tenants of affected properties offered no prospect of rehousing.

Back then Manningham was a cosmopolitan area, with communities from Eastern Europe, the West Indies, India, and Pakistan, who were likely to struggle with the paperwork of compulsory purchase or to establish rights to rehousing.

Two friends living in the area, Lynette Kirk and Anne Thompson, would often be approached for help, which might also include Social Security matters as the mills and factories were closing and unemployment was rife. They decided that a hub for advice giving was called for.

Once initial funding was secured from the YWCA for the Manningham Project, Lynette and Anne set up a base in Anvil Street in three knocked-through properties, including a former chemist’s shop, to make an office, reception and meeting room. Lynette was able to secure funding for her salary through the Job Creation Scheme.

The Project’s Management Committee included the heads of Council Housing and Social Services, and the minister of Westgate Baptist Church, Ernie Walley, and Miss McTurk from St Luke’s.

Ernie Whalley was instrumental in setting up WADRA -Westbourne and Anvil District Residents Association. The group aimed to establish the impact of the rehousing scheme on residents with a survey of affected households. Few if any wanted to move and, if they were obliged to move, they wanted another house like the one they already had.

However, by 1980 most of the properties had been compulsorily purchased, their residents rehoused, and the focus of the Manningham Project advice provision moved away from housing advice to the broader remit of welfare rights.

After the Project’s offices in Anvil Street were demolished, the Council offered an office in Manningham Swimming Baths on Carlisle Road, (now a women’s gym). Azhar Khan joined the manager, Lynette, and a volunteer at the baths., which served as the Project’s base until the mid 1980s when it moved into its current home – the former Manningham Conservative Club on Lumb Lane, near the junction with Carlisle Road.

Anne moved away to pursue a teaching career but continued to take an interest in developments. As the manager of the Project, Lynette had a formative influence in developing the Project as the busy and welcoming place it is today. As well as her tireless work with the Project she was chair of governors at Belle Vue Girls School, winning a national award for governor of the year in 2007. It was a great shock to lose her in 2013, all too soon. The Lumb Lane office is now known as Kirk House in tribute to her.

This year, 2022, marks a year of change for the Project. Azar Khan has just retired after many years’ devoted service (as manager since 2013), and Umar Ghafoor has joined the Project as our new CEO. Two trustees are retiring this year and, like other advice agencies across the country, staff and trustees are gearing up for the cost of living crisis, a crisis that will surely impact on an area that includes two of the 10per cent most deprived wards in England.

* The Annual General Meeting of Manningham Project Ltd will take place on Thursday, November 24 at our Kirk House advice centre, 203 Lumb Lane. The meeting will begin at 6pm.

The meeting will review achievements over the last year and report on the new Self Reliance Programme which works to help clients move beyond their dependence on welfare benefits. The meeting will elect the trustee board for next year. The Project are very keen to find new potential board members, especially from within the local community.

If you or a member of your organisation might be interested in joining the trustee board please let the Project know by emailing: and include trustees in the subject line.

Article taken from Telegraph & Argus, first published on Thursday 24th November 2022.