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    Mancunian
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The Boot - Three Years On - 29. The Boot Three Years On - Epilogue

This earlier than planned but it felt appropriate to post as it is ready.

Life at The Boot has been quiet in its last months, the shaping of The Old Shoe Factory has kept everyone busy and there have been some other changes in the background. All can discovered in the epilogue.

Over the course of the first few weeks the project management team of Max, Kevin and The Major met and made plans on how best to proceed. Although there were one or two initial 'hiccups' they gelled well, each appreciating the others expertise. Max had the building knowledge that was complimented by The Major's military planning and organisational abilities, while Kevin kept track of the finances and accounting keeping a tight hold of the purse strings.

Contractors were engaged on the merit of previously completed work and certain conditions being met. One of the most important being that guests of the local shelters with the right experience and qualifications were given preference when filling any employment vacancies, some even offered apprenticeships to suitable younger guests and local youth. Most of the guests who took up the opportunities offered were enthusiastic with renewed hope for the future and gained more than just a job, they regained self respect. The new apprentices were eager to learn and popular on site. Jim Scott, Beccy's husband, was one of the first to be employed, as a carpenter and roofer his skills were essential.

Steve consulted with Jeff and other shelter project managers before designing a website and brochures for The Old Shoe Factory. An application and referral process was agreed and an appropriate application form was created. He then went on to create computer systems to assist the running of The Old Shoe Factory.

With time on her hands Kate offered her services as an interior designer, she produced stunning results coming in under budget.

Christian and Andy gave a lot of thought for the uses of the ground floor units. It was decided that one would be a 'cafe come drop-in centre', another would be a charity shop selling re-cycled clothing and household items. A third would be newsagent/convenience store. All would be under the management of the new project to give employment opportunities to residents and the local community. They had also been given names, The Boot Cafe and Drop in Centre, The Old Shoe Factory Recycling Shop and The Friendship Local Store. The remaining units would be available to new and established local businesses at fair rents.

******

Meanwhile in the background other events were taking place.

With Kevins shrewd financial planning Ian expanded their jewellery business and with help and guidance from Manny opened a shop in Manchester City Centre. His growing reputation as a quality jeweller made it an instant success. After the successful opening Manny retired and went on an extended holiday to Israel, the biblical birth place of his religious beliefs and heritage.

After a minor spat JJ and Danny had a break from each other before tearfully renewing their budding relationship. They missed each other and were learning what love is, as youngsters do. They even tried to apply some match making skills by setting Liam up with several girlfriends but unfortunately none of them lasted.

Liam forged a friendship with The Major who became like a grandfather to all of the young boys, including Beccy's twins. The Major was in his element and loved every minute of it. Liam revelled in the attention from The Major, their shared experiences of events that temporarily affected their ability to walk brought them closer together. Through sheer determination and with the new found support Liam grew stronger and was slowly starting to walk with the aid of a walking frame, in time he will be able to walk unaided.

Andy and Christian's relationship had grown and at Christian's insistence they were looking for a new home together. Christian understood that Andy would feel more comfortable starting their life together in a home that he contributed to equally. Christian couldn't bring himself to sell his family home, it held too many good memories of his adoptive parents that he wasn't ready to let go. He decided to rent it out but was careful in choosing a tenant that would respect his home. There were many tears when The Major packed up and left 'his boys', but they respected his wish for independence and he was the perfect tenant for Christian.

******

Finally the time came for The Boot to lock it's doors for the last time, a lot of tears shed by staff, volunteers and guests. The guests that still needed the security of a night shelter had been introduced to shelters that they felt comfortable with. The first tenants of The Old Shoe Factory had moved in, for some it was an easy transition, for others it was't as easy but support led by Jeff was there for all as they settled in and beyond.

The Boot Cafe and Drop In Centre was a huge hit and needed more staff than originally planned. The Old Shoe Factory Recycling Shop was full to the brim with donated clothing and other items, doing a roaring trade it was popular with residents and locals alike, and like the cafe recruited more staff. The Friendship Local Store took up two adjoined units, there was possibility of extending into a third unit to accommodate a post office as there wasn't one locally. Employment opportunities were growing there too.

Local acceptance of the project was such that several groups approached the management committee asking for assistance to open a local credit union. As a result The Old Shoe Factory Credit Union was born, this took up residence in another of the units. This left two retail units and all eight of the storage/workshop units available.

Max and the other contractors had impressed Manchester City Council and all of the other local authorities and were given the status of approved and preferred tradesmen. This gave preferential status in gaining contracts with those authorities, their high standards of work was impressive but importantly to all of the local authorities they held a common ethical policy. The important policy was one of equal acceptance of diversity in the community and a dedication to reflecting that in it's workforce.

The day of the official opening arrived and was blessed with sunshine, it was a grand affair attended by local dignitaries, residents and locals. The grand opening was conducted by the local mayor and blessed by the local bishop. Everything went off without a hitch receiving coverage in the press and attracting a slot on the local tv news broadcast.

The Boot was no more, it's legacy now lives on in The Old Shoe Factory.

The story of The Boot has now come to its end, in many ways I feel sad about it as I've grown to know and love the characters. In some ways they have become a part of my life featuring in dreams that have helped me to write their story, but in my sadness I wish them well for the future and success for The Old Shoe Factory.

All reactions are appreciated and comments are welcome, as always I promise to read and acknowledge any comments left.

I hope that none of our members on GA or any of the anonymous readers of our stories will ever need the services of The Boot or any similar service. My love and good wishes go to all.

Copyright © 2019 Mancunian; All Rights Reserved.
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