FRIENDS of Stretford Public Hall are lucky to have Joanna Jones as their outreach and events manager because her fingers are always on the button.

Two of her many responsibilities are to take outside lettings and arrange inside social events.

During various lockdowns she has put arts on hold and helped to set up a Covid response hub, a food bank and a computer support system.

She has worked with other members of staff to arrange for a census assistance team to come in.

But her focus has always been on arts and leisure. One example is Culture Champions, run by Jessica Loveday, which has kept going on line during lockdown and has continued to cater for over 50s.

In normal times the group visit art galleries, go on culture tours and test experimental theatre projects.

Joanne said: “They aim to show that older people are active and creative citizens.”

She is enthusiastic about recent renovations to the ballroom, paid for by 800 of the 870 Friends, who took out shares.

Before lockdown, the ballroom was used by two choirs, a life-drawing class and as an exhibition centre for art group SAC32. It also hosted MACFest, a Muslim arts and culture festival.

Joanna is delighted that the lowering of raised plug sockets will mean that it can now be used for dance classes as well as weddings and private parties.

Stretford Children’s Theatre has used the ballroom since 2015 to give quality lessons in drama and choir work to four – 16-year-olds.

If the youngsters join the Big Comedy Shop they can continue with acting and comedy workshops during the school holidays.

There are other rooms available, too. An art studio is used by Stretford Arts Collective, known as SAC32.

Another room, the old library, welcomes children to a term-time art club.

Lofthouse is a co-working space for digital creatives. They hire desk space on a rolling monthly basis as do the artists.

Joanna said: Cotton on MCR will join us from April for an arts workshop.

“We, ourselves, are planning music and cinema-related events.

“We will have a special re-opening event when we can.”