Leigh Neighbours is a community project within Wigan Borough in Greater Manchester which aims, over the course of ten years, to bring about sustainable improvements in an area of Leigh affected by issues relating to unemployment, deprivation, crime, housing and social cohesion.
The project is one of 150 in the country funded by an award of £1 million from the National Lottery’s Big Local funding stream.
Over the course of two years (2010-2012), we invited local residents, businesses and community organisations to express their views on how they thought this investment should be spent in order to achieve the greatest benefit to the Leigh Neighbours area.
Following this public consultation, we published the Leigh Neighbours Big Local project plan, which reflects your local priorities and outlines how we aim to go about achieving these goals in partnership with the community.
The Leigh Neighbours Project Board is a legal entity, made up of local residents from the local area and others who work in our project area, for instance churches, business leaders, voluntary organisations and community groups, as well as representatives from the public sector, for example, Wigan Council, the NHS and Greater Manchester Police.
We have come together on a voluntary basis to lead and manage the delivery of a range of projects aimed at addressing the key priorities identified over a 2-year consultation period.
We reflect the community. We come from all walks of life. In fact we’re all very different! But we do share a passion for our community, a determination to represent your interests and a commitment to bringing about change for the better.
In April 2015, Leigh Neighbours was awarded Charitable Incorporated Organisation status. As a CIO, we will have a registered charity number which will assist us in fundraising by allowing us to apply for grants which are only available to charities. It’s a great step forward because it provides us with even ore opportunities to build on for the future.
MEET THE BOARD
CHAIR – SUSAN GREDECKI
“When I first came to live here 40 years ago, the area was a popular place to live. Sadly, that’s no longer the case. Many houses are now owned by private landlords who rent out these sub-standard properties. I joined the project to work with people who are trying to regenerate the area by finding a way to renovate the houses and bring them back into occupied ownership. I’m proud of the impact that the Leigh Neighbours project has made in the community over the past couple of years, bringing people together and investing in grass-roots initiatives which matter to people – whether that’s social activities which bring people together, arts and crafts workshops, apprenticeship schemes, environmental projects or ideas designed to tackle anti-social behaviour. We’re really keen your ideas and feedback because Leigh Neighbours can only be a success if the community is behind us.”
Dawn Hurst, Head Teacher, Leigh Central Primary School
“I’ve lived and taught in Leigh for the past ten years and I am now in the privileged position of being Headteacher at Leigh Central Primary School . I joined the Leigh Neighbours Project Board as I am passionate about offering the best life chances and opportunities I can to the children who attend our school. I believe that the local community plays a vital part in this and by working with the project to improve Leigh, our children will be able to succeed in the future.”
“I have lived in Leigh all my life and I’ve seen over the years the area become more and more neglected. So, when we were awarded the Lottery money, I recognised it was a fabulous opportunity and immediately signed up to get involved. One way in which we’re investing the money is to generate improvements in the condition of local housing, and we’re already making progress in this area. I’ve also become involved in arranging apprenticeship schemes, giving hope to young people who may not otherwise get an opportunity. Change isn’t going to happen overnight and the area will take time to recover – but I’m a great believer in the importance of TEAMwork because together everyone achieves more.”
“As a mum, I know just how important it is to invest in our kids’ futures. We need to find ways to channel our young peoples’ talents, provide positive role models, and create exciting opportunities for their growth and personal development. That’s why I got involved in Leigh Neighbours, so I could help make a positive difference for their future.”
“During the past 26 years, I’ve seen this area of Leigh become depressed and watched the effect this has had on local people. I’m very green-fingered so I decided to get involved in the Leigh Neighbours Project to help improve the area by making it greener and cleaner, so that residents can start to feel genuine pride in their community once again. Friends describe me as a grafter, and I’ve been fortunate to have worked all my life. It’s tragic that some people nowadays find it so hard to get their foot on the ladder, especially young people. One of our priorities is to support people with training and employment opportunities, to find ways of giving people hope and a greater sense of purpose.”
“All too often, people just stand by and complain about what’s wrong without ever trying to make things better. We’ve all got a role to play in improving the area we live in. And we should all try to do our bit. Even a few hours can make a difference. And the more that people get involved, the more others become inspired, too. I got involved in Leigh Neighbours because I’m passionate about the town and want to help create a place you can be proud of, a place where my grandchildren can thrive.”
“My name is Helen Ahmed and I am the headteacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, which is within the Leigh Neighbours project area. I agreed to become a member of the committee as I wanted to support the other members in ‘making a difference’ in the area. As examples – over the past 3 years the children at our school have enjoyed attending the hanging basket workshops, where they plant baskets to put around our school to make it bright and cheerful. The children and members of their families also enjoy the bike workshops which ensure their bikes are in good working order. Last June we held our first Big Lunch event – the children in the school, their families and members of the local community had a wonderful afternoon tea and entertainment. We plan to repeat the event with the support of Leigh Neighbours this summer. The Leigh Neighbours Board works alongside members of the local community on many worthwhile causes in the neighbourhood. I am proud to be a member of Leigh Neighbours and know we do make a difference to the lives of local people.”
“I’ve lived in the Leigh area all my life – for 82 years. I also worked in the area and I’ve been involved with the school and parish of Sacred Heart so I know a great many people in the Leigh Neigh-bours area. That’s why it is so important to me that we continue to build local community spirit. I’m keen for people – both young and old – to get involved with local events and get access to the services they need.”