Australian folk duo Charm of Finches announce first UK tour to include Leicester

By Courtney Stevens

On tour: Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes (Pic credit: Laura May Grogan)

Australian sister folk duo, Charm of Finches, have announced their first ever UK tour for Spring 2022.

The tour is to promote their third album Wonderful Oblivion which is available in the UK from May 6 via Anti- Fragile Music.

The tour kicks off in Oxford on Saturday, April 23, stops at The Musician in Leicester on Tuesday, May 3, and travels around the UK before finishing in Whitstable on Sunday, May 8.

Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes, grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and started busking and singing at festivals from a young age.

They made their first EP in 2014 at ages 11 and 14, later releasing their debut album, Staring at the starry ceiling in 2016.

They have described their music as being about ‘love, grief and whispering trees, with tight sister harmonies, and many stringed instruments.’

Mabel and Ivy said: “This album covers a lot of different themes and is about looking into the future.

“Our last album was about grief and processing the death of one of our close friends, whereas this album is about coming out of that and is more hopeful.

“This album explores the innocence of childhood, dreams and new beginnings.”

The duo are already well known in their home country, having won the 2021 Music Victoria’s Best Folk Act and Youth Artist of the Year 2021 at the Australian Folk Music Awards.

They were also nominated for the 2021 Australian Music Prize.

The pair are looking forward to their first UK tour and to performing to live audiences again after the coronavirus lockdowns.

They said: “We’ve never been to the UK before, so it will be a wild adventure, we don’t know what to expect.

“We’re very excited.

“We wrote and recorded these songs within the space of six months during lockdown, so it’s great to be able to finally play these songs to an audience.”

The sisters knew from a young age that they wanted to do music and work together and have spoken about the inspiration behind their sound.

They said: “Music has always been a part of our lives and we have been singing folk songs together from about age six.

“We both picked up string instruments at age nine and started writing our own songs, and it kind of all snowballed from there.

“One of our early inspirations was First Aid Kit, they started out young and we thought well if they could do it, so can we.

“We also love Sufjan Stevens – who is probably our biggest musical hero.”

You can listen to their music here: Charm of Finches – YouTube

Tickets are available now from:  https://charmoffinchesband.com/shows

Dates of Charm of Finches UK tour

Leicester’s ‘Stabby’ park leaves students fearing for their safety

By Daniel Bellamy

Leicester students are fearing for their safety after sharing concerns over lighting around a popular park route through Bede Park.

An image of the green space Bede Park
An overview look on the popular open green space, Bede Park located in Westcotes

The calls for lighting improvements followed a previous initiative shared by the city council in which they aimed to turn Leicester street lights ‘greener’ by using LED alternatives.

Bede Park is the route for many students to and from campus and, more importantly, the route for students to social events at night.

Students and many users of the park nicknamed the space ‘Stabby’ Park referring to knife crimes and other anti-social behaviour that occurs across the park typically when darkness overcasts the area.

On several occasions, including September 24 last year, police cars were parked at the end and sides of the park, not only this, on a couple of mornings police have been spotted at the entrance of the park near a weapon detector gate.

Police were seen around these gates speaking to members of the public in a general manner.

A Leicester City Council spokesperson said: “The lighting provided is in line with permitted lighting levels for public green spaces to ensure a compromise is met between user safety and wildlife/biodiversity on the site, in particular minimal impact on bats.

‘”The site is regularly patrolled by parks wardens. Where there are repeat criminal offences recorded, this creates a profile with local police who then align police patrols in order of need, public safety.”

According to Leicestershire Police crime map data there were 17 reported incidents in September last year when students began arriving, which was a high number for that year.

One student said: “I feel anxious any time my friends ask me out, knowing I have to cross the park as my way to get there.”

The park is set to have CCTV surveillance installed in the future, with additional monitoring making it a safer place.

The city council spokesperson added: “In summary, safety in any site is dependent upon both the common sense informed decisions made by users, together with the provisions and maintenance incorporated into the location. Amalgamated, they contribute to designing out crime and anti-social behaviour wherever reasonably possible within the resources available.”

Readers returning to Leicester’s Braunstone Town Library after lockdown slump

By Vivek Julka

Braunstone Town Library has suffered a major drop in numbers since re-opening after lockdown.

In a bid to get numbers back up, the library has been running events such as coffee mornings and story time.

Lesley Lycett, a worker in the library said: “Over lockdown we ran a click and collect service but coming out after lockdown, numbers have decreased.

“To combat this, we have events such as drop-in sessions, coffee mornings and story time throughout the week to get numbers back up.

“We hope more and more people start participating in these fun events.

“Numbers are increasing gradually and hope to be back in full swing in a few months’ time.”

Braunstone Town Library also do DVDs and photocopies in aim to get more people in.

DMU and UoL teams on countdown to Varsity 2022 contests

By Rian Fearnehough

The sports teams of De Montfort University (DMU) are preparing themselves for Varsity for the first time in two years after Covid cancellations caused a hiatus.  

Varsity will feature 47 fixtures between the sports teams of DMU and the University of Leicester (UoL) as well a celebration event, allowing performance-based societies such as bhangra and dance to be involved in the event.

Varsity preview

Varsity is a full week of sport beginning on Tuesday(MARCH22) and finishing on Tuesday, March 29, and is a real celebration of university sport, allowing students to compete in front of their peers.

Fiona Dick, Head of Sport at DMU, said: “Discussions for Varsity start in September as both DMU and UoL realign the vision and values of what Varsity is.” 

Varsity requires a lot of planning to ensure the event works for everyone as it needs to be a celebration of the sports teams and allow them to show off the work they have put in across the year. 

Fiona added: “Varsity provides a culmination of endeavours and allows students to experience playing with bigger crowds.

“The teams are a mixture of nervous and excited but are ready to play and want to win.”

The extra support could help DMU win Varsity overall for the first time which would help promote the sporting opportunities available at the university. As well as an overall trophy, every fixture will also be for a trophy, giving every team something to play for.

DMU is providing transport for students to attend fixtures to ensure that the fixtures have the biggest crowds possible to make some great memories for the students involved. 

To get updates on when the fixtures are taking place, follow DMU sport on Instagram or check out the varsity page https://www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/sport/varsity/index.aspx.

Active Oadby and Wigston has post-Covid vision to improve community wellbeing with physical activities 

By Lara Alsaid

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on how important social life and exercise are for people´s physical and mental health, according to an activities group in Leicester. 

Active Oadby and Wigston is an organisation that aims to deliver programmes to get residents within the borough to improve their health and wellbeing. 

Ross Levy, Community Health and Improvement Officer for Active Oadby and Wigston, said: “A group walk for an hour around the park with the sun shining, reduces isolation and improves mental and physical wellbeing. It is fantastic to have that opportunity.” 

Group walks are one of their programmes

Seven district councils in Leicester have similar teams to Active Oadby and Wigston and share the same inspiration to increase activity for their residents.  

The organisation has a close partnership with the NHS (National Health Service) and operates a lot on the module of social prescribing, which is basically a prescription by medical practitioners to someone to do an activity. 

Mr Levy continued: “It is brilliant for people in our programme that have been referred because of low mood or bereavement etc.”  

The group walk is a growing concept within the organisation that has a powerful sense of community and commitment.  

Mr Levy added: “It is lovely how something as accessible as walking can have such a significant difference to people’s lives who participate.” 

After the Covid isolation, people have been excited to get back out and enjoy gentle exercise and have a chat with people from different walks of life. 

Mr Levy believes people have learned from Covid isolation and social exclusion that it is important to raise awareness of this organisation and for people to know their opportunities and what is available to them in their communities. 

Within the programme, participants have a close community with WhatsApp group chats where they inspire and cheer each other on.  

Most of Active Oadby and Wigston’s programmes are free of charge or incredibly low cost.  

Most activities have an age limit of 18 but they do more targeted activities for families, for example during February half term 2022 they organised family activity days in some of the social housing properties within the borough. 

There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer for students as well. The organisation is always looking for volunteers and urged students across De Montfort University (DMU) to contact Active Oadby and Wigston. 

For more information visit its website https://www.activeoadbywigston.org.uk