The Most Wonderful Bank in the World (December 2015)

We love the creativity of the team behind ‘The Most Wonderful Bank in the World’ who have just introduced their 12 Ways of Christmas! This ‘bank’ opens from December 1st to December 24th 2015 and it won’t be dealing in money but in time, in empathy, in respect, in love. Its currency and reason for existing is to remember and to celebrate our humanity during darker days when the world seems to have forgotten how to love. The bank – like the one run by George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, will remind everyone that they have the ability to change lives.

Take a look at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World – 12 ways of Christmas and click on the links provided to get involved. If you’re not able to access Facebook you can email The Most Wonderful Bank in the World at:


Matty’s Magical Hotpot

The legendary Stockton chef, Matty Brown will be creating four variations of a hotpot which you can make for your family each week.  Matty will tell you the ingredients, (and some independent shops where you can source them across the borough), the method and the cost! He will be creating fresh hotpot opportunities on Tuesdays 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd December.

What’s magical it? Matty is going to show you that making an extra portion would cost hardly any more.  So… how about you make an extra plate of delicious food for someone in your street, your family, your workplace who would benefit from a hot meal, a chat and a smile? Drop it round, take it in to work, invite them to your home – it really is up to you!

This group will keep you in the loop and we hope you can share your hotpot experiences – and how you have managed to help people through the process!


Very Important Little People

On Monday December 14th, The Most Wonderful Bank in the World is going to treat some of our most in need children (along with a parent or carer) to the best night out ever! Working with Castlegate Centre, ARC, Stockton Riverside College, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, Element 1 CiC, Urban Kaos and lots of helpers they want to make sure that the children realise that they are as important as anyone else in Stockton-on-Tees.

Here’s how you can help… The team at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World would like to create a magical Yellow Brick Road – a pathway of people, light, art and knitted wonderment for the children to walk between Stockton’s High Street fountain and ARC. For this to happen loads of volunteers are needed, all wearing something yellow and happy to bring a torch/yellow light. OR you may be able to help us by knitting characters from The Wizard of Oz!

SO – if you are able to help us create this magical yellow brick road you would need to be available for a practice on the evening of Wednesday 9th (6pm to 7pm) and then on Monday 14th (5.30pm to 6.30pm).


Isn’t it Grand! Community Grandparents

Just because you’ve retired it doesn’t mean that you have nothing left to offer. Quite the opposite,  older people have masses of skills, experience and ideas that can help some of the people who live in the borough. In particular there are young families and new parents who often feel isolated, frightened and lonely but, often due to no fault of their own, they have no-one to turn to or look up to.

Why not become a Community Grandparent?  Join this formidable team of older people and you can buddy up with people in need and help some of our youngest and most vulnerable residents. If you can offer a couple of hours on a Wednesday 2nd, 9th, 16th December between 2.30pm and 4.30pm, pop along to ARC, Dovecot Street, Stockton.  The Most Wonderful Bank in the World will provide the tea and biscuits while you provide the ideas, skills and compassion to change lives. In particular, we need knitters, bakers, artists and story readers… but they want anyone who fancies proving society wrong.


The Steel River March

One river. One voice! Teesside is a family.  A family that looks out for each other and when part of the family is sad, or needs help, Teesside comes together.

Two years ago a male voice choir was formed. It was a choir that was originally inspired by the Industrial heritage of our steel industry. The first performance was in Dormanstown and the content of the songs they sung were laced with references to heavy industry and the history of Teesside.  The choir commissioned a song ‘Infant Hercules’ and Thornaby’s talented Joe Hammill wrote an anthem that identifies with the past, the present and the potential of Teesside.

The choir has evolved with up to 50 members from each of the five boroughs of Teesside and they proudly sing songs of lads and dads and meet to rehearse in the key of ale every Thursday. But they haven’t forgotten their inspiration. The devastating news about the loss of steel making of the Tees has stirred their collective hearts, loud voices and determined feet so that the choir, Infant Hercules, can show a united support for those effected by events at SSI.

On Saturday 12th December, Infant Hercules will go marching! Starting with an anthem in Stockton, they will walk via the river to Middlesbrough Football Club where they will sing again. They will then walk onwards through the dusk to the gates of SSI and sing in tribute – not just for the job losses but to remember our ancestors, our identity and our community.

Want to be part of this event?

Men, you can join the choir by rehearsing on 3rd and 10th December and then walking and singing with them on the day and into the night. Everyone else… you are invited to join in the walk. And finally, although money isn’t what the walk is about, The Most Wonderful Bank in the World team will soon announce details where you can help families affected by this closure via a sponsorship initiative developed with Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.


Phone up Friday

The (he)art of talking and listening! How many times have you gone for days – or weeks and realised that you’ve not touched base with a loved one or old friend? So, the Most Wonderful Bank in the World is encouraging us all to use Phone Up Friday to use our phones to talk more. No texting, no Facebook – just talking!

This is a simple project… at 6pm each Friday on 4th, 11th and 18th December give that someone you should stay in touch with a call. Tell them about your week and listen back.

And, if you know someone who would love to receive a call but who doesn’t have a phone do get in touch with The Most Wonderful Bank in the World team. They have joined up with EE who have donated three ‘pay as you go’ phones to be handed out for one lucky person each Friday.


Advent Calendar 2115

If you work in a school, with a brownie pack, cubs, youth club, or in any child focused organisation you can get involved with this!

Advent Calendar 2115 is all about seeing Christmas through the eyes of children.  Most children see Christmas as magical. They learn and love the story of the nativity. They look for the star. They listen for Father Christmas. They believe that this is the most wonder-filled  time of the year. And they excitedly tell each other – and us – how amazing it is.

Only 100 years ago Christmas was very different. The world was at war. Families and communities were torn apart and joy, peace, love was replaced by, at best, hope. How did those children react? Was the magic of Christmas still in their lives and if so, how did they celebrate it? We can read about it in books and on the internet but we have lost that connection, that human aspect with our Stockton Borough ancestors now long gone.

And so, in times of relative peace, the team at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World, think it would be nice for the children of today to tell the Stockton-on-Tees community of 2115 what Christmas was like in 2015 by creating a very special advent calendar.

They are looking to get 24 groups of children involved by sharing what they think symbolises Christmas in 2015 but which helps other people. Then, one of the children from each group should write it all down in a Christmas card. And everyone involved should sign it.  Then along with a photograph of the activity, we want them to seal it and send it to us here at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World. That card, together with 23 others will be placed in a time capsule which will be buried here in Stockton. We will then place a letter into the safe keeping of the Town Hall addressed to the Mayor of Stockton 2115. That letter will tell him or her where our advent calendar time capsule is buried and can be dug up and on each of the days of advent 2115, people in Stockton will discover what a wonderful community we were – are today.


Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Let’s Go Fly A Kite is inspired by someone who worked in a bank but who was reminded that his life was passing him by. George Banks is a character in Mary Poppins, one of the best loved stories and films of the past 100 years.

He remembered – through the intervention of a magical, wonderful visitor that he needed to spend not his money – but to share more of himself and his time with his loved ones. Mary Poppins didn’t come to the house to look after the children, she came to bring the family back together.  At the end of the film, when George Banks had apparently lost everything, he spends the night, tuppence in hand and realises that the places he knows, the people he sees and the family he loves are more important than work and making money. And so he rushes home to take his family out to go and fly a broken, homemade kite!

Let’s Go Fly A Kite will happen in three different parks across Stockton Borough on Sunday mornings, the 6th, 13th and 20th December.  Everything you need will be provided – the kites, the games to play, the things to do and the hot drinks. You only need to get there with your loved ones and rediscover the joy of time!


Don’t Like Mondays

When 10,000 people got together across Stockton-on-Tees in March, something amazing happened. Residents of all ages, backgrounds, races and political persuasion collaborated to pass around a message in the worlds’ biggest ever game of Chinese whispers. Five simple words were passed through schools, colleges, offices, bridges, parks, sports centres, hotels, shops, streets and homes and as the phrase ‘This is Stockton-on-Tees’ was revealed, it became clear that our words only reinforced the sentiment – that we live in a beautiful borough filled with wonderful people. It wasn’t the words that mattered – it was how we played the game.

The game was led by remarkable clowns. Their infectious energy and playful inclusivity made everyone want to join in and feel part of ‪#‎theloudestwhisper‬ and how they made people smile! So, for The Most Wonderful Bank in the World, those loveliest of clowns are back!

On Mondays, 7th, 14th and 21st watch out in different parts of the Borough as the clowns carry out Random Acts of Kindness. You may be lucky enough to have your coffee paid for, receive a flower or be treat to a lovely lunch… just because it is Christmas!

You can be part of the randomness as well! On those Mondays do something lovely, kind and thoughtful for an unsuspecting person and get in touch with the team at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World to share your story. It’s just another chance to take a bit of time and do something for others.  This is how the Wonderful Bank fills up – and THIS is Stockton-on-Tees.


One World Word Exchange

Stockton-on-Tees has become a borough filled with lots of nationalities and people have arrived here for hundreds of reasons. We all have different opinions on the ‘whys’ the ‘hows’ and the ‘solutions’. But the Most Wonderful Bank in the World is about a basic human response. Not in terms of benefits and economy… but with communication, empathy and acceptance. Because a smile is the same in any language!

What if Stockton-on-Tees became the place where everyone is given a warm welcome of chatting, handshakes and laughter?

The team from the Most Wonderful Bank in the World are encouraging everyone who is interested in this to join them on Wednesday 2nd, 9th and 16 December, from 5pm to 6pm at Stockton’s ARC. There you will learn five welcoming phrases in six different languages (some of the languages spoken by some of the biggest communities now living here). You will also get to eat dishes from those countries, free for all. From Arabic to Urdu; Kurdish to French; Farsi to Amharic – you will learn how to be able to meet and greet people and make them a part of Stockton-on-Tees.


My name is Clarence

Did you know that a recent survey discovered that in our lovely borough over 13,000 residents are suffering from loneliness – with half of them classed as ‘intensely lonely’.

And the loneliness can be intensified at Christmas, when most of us spend time with family and friends, to exchange gifts and tuck into a hearty meal. But what about those who have nothing. And worse still, no-one?

This part of the Most Wonderful Bank in the World incorporates the idea of Clarence, an angel in the much-loved film, It’s A Wonderful Life.  Clarence reminds a despairing George Bailey how he has touched the lives of so many people just by being himself and shows him how their lives would have been worse off without his intervention.

This ‘Clarence’ challenge has three parts to it:

Food Glorious Food
On Christmas Eve, the Most Wonderful Bank in the World will team up with chefs, restaurants and food retailers to help local charity, The Moses Project, to prepare Christmas Day lunch for some of the Borough’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

Stockton-on-Tees Stocking Fillers
When you buy your stocking fillers, why not buy an extra one for us to donate to a child in need in the Borough?

Pull Up A Chair
Could you invite someone who you know will be on their own to share some part of Christmas Day with you? A relative, a neighbour, a colleague? It would make their Christmas – and yours – something incredibly wonderful.


Stockton’s Silent Night

Silent Night, our favourite Christmas Carol, tells of a time of peace, of silence, of brightness and of the origins of Christmas. The team at The Most Wonderful Bank in the World would like as many people as possible singing this song and film it on your mobile phone. They plan to do something very special with all of the footage they are sent. Sing it on your own, as a family, at work, in hospital, at school, if you live abroad. Watch out for updates about where to send your film.

And do you work in a home for the elderly, a hospital, a hospice, a prison, or anywhere that might make it difficult for people living there to get out and about at Christmas? The bank team would like to record a unique version of Silent Night to be posted online on Christmas Eve by visiting to record you all singing the Christmas Carol. They need 18 different places from across the Borough who would be happy to welcome the frontman of The Wildcats of Kilkenny, Mike McGrother into your living room or place of work on Tuesday, 15th December. Armed with his guitar, a video camera, some carol song sheets and a smile he will capture and put together a very special version of Silent Night – Stockton Borough style!

You can also join in a massive version of Silent Night at the launch night of Stockton Sparkles.


A light that will never go out

At 5pm on Christmas Eve, The Most Wonderful Bank in the World will close.  Everyone taking part in this wonderful initiative will have brought a little bit of light into the lives of hundreds (or thousands) of the most isolated and vulnerable residents from Stockton-on-Tees and the wider Teesside area.

Together, you will have all shown the world what ‘community’ and ‘giving’ is all about and the spirit of what you have achieved will live on in people’s hearts for years to come.

For the final part of the Most Wonderful Bank in the World, you are invited to join everyone around the Christmas Tree on Stockton High Street for a short 30 minute vigil.  Bring a torch, a candle or a lantern. Each light will represent how your membership of The Most Wonderful Bank in the World has lit up a life – for a second, a minute, an hour or longer.  Ask friends and family to come out of work, come from your homes, come out of the pubs so that for a short beautiful time, Stockton High Street will be the most wonderful place in the world…

Once everyone leaves and heads for home, some to our loved ones, and others to no-one.  When you get home, or if you haven’t been able to join in, place your light somewhere where everyone can see it throughout the Christmas season. And when you are asked what you got for Christmas this year, tell people that you got given the chance to remind someone that they are not alone. That they are, and always will be a part of Stockton-on-Tees. And that together, we can all have a Wonderful Life.

Even if you join no other groups join this one