When Leigh Neighbours was originally established, we embarked on a community consultation exercise to find out how local people felt about the area and how they thought the investment could be spent for the greatest benefit.
In order to gather as much relevant information as possible, we used Planning for Real® which is a nationally recognised community planning process based on a 3D model that allows residents to register their views on a range of issues; to work together to identify priorities; and to develop an action plan for change.
Using Planning for Real, we consulted with more than 800 people to find out what they thought. We met with church groups, with people in community centres, schools and libraries, to ensure that the Leigh Neighbours Big Local project plan reflected your concerns and priorities for your neighbourhood.
This is what you told us you wanted to see happen over the course of the next ten years.
“Adults judge young people on the street, but they have nothing to do.”
You said: You wanted to feel a greater sense of community spirit, particularly between people from different generations and ethnic backgrounds because you told us “we don’t always mix”. You’ve also got lots of ideas for events and activities that will bring people together.
Bringing people together and developing greater community spirit is what drives Leigh Neighbours! Whether it’s funding an event as part of The Big Lunch or organising a litter pick to help make the area cleaner and greener, we recognise that there is value in creating opportunities that allow people to get to know their neighbours, to break down social barriers and challenge misconceptions. It’s also why we encourage people to volunteer in their community, because it’s a great way to meet new friends whilst also making a real difference. You can find out more about volunteering opportunities in the area here.
Education, Training & Employment
“A place where I can volunteer my skills or learn new ones.”
You said: You want to see more opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. You want young people to have the best possible start in life and older people to have the chance to retrain, with access to local and affordable training.
We’ve worked closely with schools on a range of initiatives which give younger children access to extra-curricular learning.
We fund the Summer School at Sacred Heart RC Primary School every year in a bid to tackle the ‘dip’ that some children experience during the long summer break between academic years, as well as hosting a holiday craft club to give young people a chance to learn life skills in a fun environment.
“Free activities for us so we don’t get bored and do anything bad.”
You said: Access to community facilities and activities is important to local residents, young and old. Activities which combat social isolation among the elderly or raise the aspirations of young people… Places which provide a chance to integrate, to learn, to have fun…
So far we’ve invested in a range of resources including Leigh Neighbours community garden, the Incredible Edible community allotment on Railway Road and the £25,000 renovation project at Kingsleigh Methodist Community Centre. We’ve also hosted a variety of free community activities such as the annual hanging basket workshops and family crafts workshops.
Crime & Community Safety
“I want to feel that crime is under control and there’s a more visible police presence.”
You told us your concerns relating to community safety, especially around anti-social behaviour (ASB) and drug dealing. You want to see more police foot patrols, protective fencing and security lights.
We work closely with Wigan Council and GMP on a variety of initiatives designed to help combat crime and ASB, such as the multi-agency waste amnesty held in Autumn 2018. We’ve hosted community safety drop-ins and invested in enhanced home security for some of our most vulnerable residents.
“We want local residents to respect the area.”
The impact of environmental crime, ie. dog-fouling, fly-tipping, vandalism and graffiti, is felt keenly by local people, as is the lack of green space and areas for children to play safely. You said you want to live in an area which is cleaned regularly as well as respected by residents. You want enforcement action taken against people who don’t respect the area and you want to make a difference by getting involved in clean-up campaigns, greening activities and planting schemes. You also want to see aesthetic improvements to derelict retail units and houses.
We’ve invested significantly in improving the local environment, from transforming neglected grot spots to commissioning community art installations. Want to find out about our efforts to tackle the ‘cleaner and greener’ challenge…? You can read what we’ve been up to in our Green Journey report.
“Leigh has no sexual health service that’s easily accessible.”
You told us of your concerns about healthy eating and getting your ‘5-a-day’ so the availability of locally-grown, affordable fresh produce is a priority for you. You said you want to see more counselling and parenting resources. And because of the significant impact of alcohol addiction, smoking, obesity and drug abuse on the health of local residents, you want to see more done to address these issues.
Whilst we recognise that Leigh Neighbours cannot deliver on the statutory obligations of agencies such as the NHS, what we can do is help to empower members of the community to make the right choices for themselves and their families. It’s why we’ve invested in initiatives such as the Incredible Edible community allotment on Railway Road… and our free Dr Bike workshops hosted by Gearing Up designed to get people back in the saddle! We’ve also supported Leigh Central Primary with The Daily Mile, a healthy lifestyle initiative which gets kids out of the classroom and encourages them to become more active.
Traffic & Transport
“Reduce speed and create more 20 mph zones.”
Your vision is to create an area that is a safer place for people who aren’t in a car – for pedestrians, cyclists, children and the elderly. Your suggestions relate to reducing traffic speed, parking, the condition of road surfaces, cycle-friendly schemes such as cycle lanes, and the need for more Pelican or Zebra crossings, especially close to schools.
There are many agencies and organisations – such as Wigan Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and the Highways Agency – that have a statutory obligation to deliver on these priorities. However, Leigh Neighbours does what it can to help. We do our bit, for instance, by hosting free Be Seen, Be Safe workshops for cyclists to help them stay safe on our roads during the Winter months.
“Somewhere for 14 – 18 year olds to go and socialise.”
You gave us a long list of things you’d like to see provided in the area: play areas, places for teens to socialise, sports pitches, skate parks, Summer Clubs, sports activities, an art club, basketball facilities and more. There is a significant overlap here with many suggestions made under the ‘Crime & Community Safety’ theme – especially around ‘young people hanging about’ which could be addressed by improved leisure resources. Your vision isn’t about reproducing the facilities available at Leigh Sports Village, but about having a range of resources within easy reach of the area, and which help people stay physically and emotionally healthy.
So much of what we’ve focussed on over the past few years has ticked this box! We’ve hosted lots of activities and workshops which bring families together, especially our craft workshops. We’d love to see more people involved in our allotment, not least because of the mental and physical benefits of getting stuck into some therapeutic gardening! Similarly, Our Art Neighbourhood involves local people in a variety of community arts projects which achieve many positive outcomes, not just for the individual but also for the local area.
“Better control of housing conditions and enforced upkeep of housing.”
You have expressed many concerns related to housing. There is widespread agreement that issues around private let properties – both relating to physical condition and types of tenants – need to be addressed if the area is to improve and if the value of property is to match that in surrounding areas of the borough. The vision local people have is of an area where all property is in a good state of repair; where the local authority adopts a timely and proactive role in addressing community concerns; and where people aspire to live.
Leigh Neighbours is working in partnership with agencies such as Wigan Council, our local councillors, our local MP Jo Platt, and other organisations to find ways we can make a difference. It’s a big challenge… but we recognise how important it is to quality of life. It’s the reason we helped residents in Selwyn Street transform their back alley from a litter-strewn grot spot into a landscaped ‘garden’. It’s also why we threw our weight behind the waste amnesty in Autumn 2018. Because helping to create an area where people feel proud – and safe – is important to us. Small steps… but it’s a start.
More information about our key strategic priorities can be found in our Community Plan which we drafted and submitted to Big Local in 2012.
In 2018, we carried out further community consultation to ensure that we were still on the right tracks and delivering against the priorities that remain important to local people. Our updated Community Plan 2018-2021 can be found here.