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. We’re currently in the process of revisiting the Community Plan for 2018-2021 to ensure we’re still on the right track!
If you’d like to find out more about the kinds of projects Leigh Neighbours has been involved in, you can read our latest Annual Report 2017 here.
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 more opportunities to build on in the future.
MEET THE BOARD
Susan Gredecki, Chair
“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 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 few 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 to hear your ideas because Leigh Neighbours can only be a success if the community is behind us.”
Jan Eckersley, Vice Chair
“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. I’m also passionate about recycling, so it’s really important to me that any projects we embark on, whether environmental ones such as Incredible Edible or educational projects such as crafts for children, features some element of upcycling!”
Dawn Hurst, Head Teacher, Leigh Central Primary School
“I’ve lived and taught in Leigh for over 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.”
“During the past 30 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.”
Helen Ahmed, Head Teacher, Sacred Heart RC Primary School
“I’m the headteacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, which lies within the Leigh Neighbours project area. I agreed to get involved with the charity because I wanted to support the other members in ‘making a difference’ in the area. Over the past 5 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. Leigh Neighbours 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 – over 80 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 Neighbours 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.”
“Wigan ‘born and bred’, I’m a mum of 2 daughters and nanna to 4 grandchildren. I started working at Citizens Advice in 2004, rising through the ranks to Operations Manager. I am responsible for ensuring that the company’s advice and information services are effectively and efficiently delivered to high standards of quality and client care in locations across the borough. I am very much a people person with a hands on approach. I wanted to get involved with Leigh Neighbours because I am aware of the problems that clients from the area talk to us about, and I felt being involved would give us further insight into these issues. In my spare time, I have an avid interest in music with a diverse music collection and have attended many concerts and musical events.”
“Because I am a landscape gardener, I often take before & after photos to see the improvements we have made to a piece of land. I can relate this to the work we do within the Leigh Neighbours project area. It is very satisfying to me to look back at our successes with the many varied and diverse projects we have been involved with, particularly as a local resident. I am always on the lookout to see where we can make a difference within our community in the future, it is important to me that we invest whatever spare time we have to achieve this.”
“I have lived in this local area for 21 years. As a resident, parishioner at a local church, someone who works in the area and most importantly a parent with a child at a local school in the area, I want to help make the area a better place to live, work and play and keep it sustainable. Over the years the area has gone into decline. When I moved to the area, it was an area that had so much going for it and over the years this has sadly declined in so many ways. I have seen the great work that Leigh Neighbours has and is continuing to do and I want to be a part of this legacy, I believe that we need to all work together and make the area a great neighborhood, somewhere to be proud of, rather than seeing and hearing all the negative comments. We can all do our bit and this is the reason behind me joining the group. I want my children to be proud of the area they live in and my neighbours to feel safe and happy in their community.”
Deborah Catchatoor, Head Teacher, Leigh St Mary’s CE Primary School
Lord Peter Smith, Wigan Council,
Cllr Susan Greensmith, Wigan Council