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About Us

Our history, our values and who we are

Our History

Bridge 5 Mill was established and refurbished by a dedicated group of people who had a vision for a centre in Manchester that could be a hub and resource for groups, organisations and individuals working on environmental and social issues. The mill would serve as both a base and an example of these ideas in action. Two of those people, Helen Woodcock and Chris Walsh, are still based at the mill and involved to this day. The original project was called the Manchester Environmental Resource Centre Initiative (MERCi) and was established in 1996 as an independent charity.

MERCi found and purchased Bridge 5 Mill and refurbished it with the help of grants from the European Regional Development Fund, a private trust, The National Lottery Community Fund and the Esme Fairburn Trust, and later the Tudor Trust and Comic Relief.

The mill was refurbished using many reclaimed and recycled materials, eco paints, water saving measures and low energy fittings (and no PVC!). It also involved a range of people with different skills and backgrounds, such as New Deal apprentices from the local community, participants of ‘Building on Equality’ – a green construction course for lone parent women – and many volunteers, all of whom were led by professional craftspeople who shared their knowledge and expertise. When it opened, Bridge 5 Mill was one of Manchester’s most sustainable buildings, and Manchester Civic Society acknowledged this in 2001 when it won the award for Manchester’s most energy efficient building. After the initial refurbishment, MERCi then focused on three key areas of project work: community, education and enterprise.

Sustainability at Bridge 5 Mill

Bridge 5 Mill was refurbished using as many sustainable building practices and materials as possible. In line with this ethos there are many recycled and repurposed items around the mill; our reception desk, for instance, is a piece of slate that was once the top of a snooker table, back in the days of the mill being used as Ancoats Lads Club, and our bins are made from leftover metal from the roof of the Lowry Theatre in Salford. With sustainability in mind, we also manage the day-to-day running of the mill with our environmental impact always in mind, and we regularly implement greener, more efficient methods to our way of getting things done. You can find out more about how we do this in our Ethics & Sustainability policy below.

Ethics & Sustainability Policy

  • We help to build an equitable, inclusive and diverse network of organisations and communities working towards positive social change that benefits all citizens of Greater Manchester (and beyond).
  • We provide space and resources for organisations, groups, communities and movements to come together to create change.
  • We create a safer space for people to thrive, connect and enjoy, and to strengthen the network of positive social change makers.
  • We encourage public involvement and civic engagement with the projects organised by our changemakers.
  • We embed ourselves in the local area by offering our space as an asset for the community to use, hosting educational events, acting as a local veg pick up point, and listening to what the community needs before putting it into action.
  • We ensure that our building is using as many sustainable initiatives as possible – solar panels, power saving techniques, recycling facilities, etc. – we lead by example to encourage our users to do the same.
  • We encourage our users and Changemakers to carry out sustainable practices as much as possible within the building – cycling to work, avoiding meat & dairy products, recycling, power saving, etc.
  • We support, as much as possible through our procurement, companies who pay the living wage, are small & independent, are fairtrade, are sustainable – see our ethical buying policy here. By working in solidarity with others, we hope to create an example of an alternative economy.
  • We welcome ideas and suggestions on how we can use and improve the space to benefit more people and communities across Greater Manchester – just get in touch using the contact form on our website. We are a space of learning and growing.