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Community Spirit

Community Spirit

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.

Community Spirit

Leigh Scarecrow Festival – October 1st – 31st

Community Spirit

Sophie, a local resident, has suggested that we could have a Scarecrow Festival to help cheer us up as the nights draw in and autumn takes hold.

We thought it was a great idea and are encouraging residents, groups, shops and schools to have a go at creating a scarecrow.

If people have got room they can put their scarecrow in their front garden. If space is tight then we’ve done some scarecrow colouring sheets and have some ideas on making scarecrows using loo rolls which could be put in front windows.

We’re hoping that people will make their scarecrows during September and that they will be on display during October. That way, if we’re still keeping our distance because of Covid, we’ve got an alternative to ‘trick or treating’ at Halloween. If there are enough we’ll create a trail and post a map.

Butterfly Campaign 2021

Community Spirit

We recognised that the third covid lockdown, over the Winter of 2020/2021, had affected many people in ways that the first and second lockdowns hadn’t. The dark nights, the cold and rain and the emotional energy that was needed to deal with the covid crisis all combined to make it harder to cope with.

We organised an arts campaign through Facebook to help brighten the area and which anyone could join in with. We had an overwhelming response, lots of residents joined in and our Butterfly Facebook posts generated lots of positive comments.

Are you a Lockdown Butterfly?

This is what we posted on Facebook:

‘Here at our virtual Leigh Neighbours office we’ve been talking about the impact that this lockdown has had on us. We coped with the first – it was a novelty, the Sun was shining and the days were long. The second last November at least gave us Christmas to look forward to, but this one has left us feeling a bit low.

We had a bit of a moan and then decided that we wanted to do something to cheer ourselves up, and to help local people cheer themselves and each other up too. Jan, our Vice Chair, is a keen sewer and crafter and thought that we should use the butterfly as a symbol of where we are now and what we hope for…we might be cocooned in our houses at the moment, wrapped in layers and not getting out much, but we hope that as Spring arrives we’ll be able to slowly emerge from our chrysalis, unfold our wings and bask in vaccinated sunshine.

We are going to use the butterfly as a symbol of hope and ask local people to share it wherever they can…we’ll have butterfly templates for you and your children or grandchildren to colour and put in your window; we’ll have butterfly knitting patterns; we’ve got some ideas around salt dough and butterfly ornaments; Jan is going to show ways that you can recycle and make your own outdoor butterflies; we want to see your poems and short stories about butterflies (and we’ll share them through Facebook and our website); we’ll have butterfly facts and want to do some butterfly planting later in the year. We want it to be like Christmas – where you walk down any street and can see lights and cards and decorations and trees and it gives you a warm glow. What do you think, are you with us?’

Our Art Neighbourhood

Community Spirit

Our Art Neighbourhood is an ongoing part of our activities which aims to engage local people in art, build community spirit and make visible improvements to our streets.

Over the past couple of years, we have started to do just that by engaging artists who are good at working with people to achieve small scale but beautiful public art works. We have been looking to make improvements to neglected spaces in our area, including street corners and verges.

Further community-led projects which engage local people and enhance the look of our area through art are being developed.

Our first project took place between July – November 2014 and employed local and regional professional artists to inspire children, young people and adults in visual arts activity.

It included:

  • A school-based digital art summer club for children.
  • A summer graffiti project for young people.
  • An urban knitting or ‘yarn bombing’ project for adults and young people.
  • Production of two billboards for public display.
  • Use of an empty property to display an exhibition by local professional artists.

Well over 300 people took part in the various workshops led by artists (such as local graffiti artist Gecko), and thousands of people were able to see the results. Our neighbourhood was transformed for several weeks as the streets became our art gallery, populated by the colours and textures of art works which celebrated local creativity and presented a positive image of to a wider audience.

Watch a great video of our first project...

Our Art Neighbourhood was funded by Arts Council England (via Grants for the Arts) and Leigh Neighbours Partnership Board. We were delighted too that it received support in kind from local businesses and partners, including Wigan Council, WLCT, Trust in Leigh, Clear Channel, JDS Printers, PDC Distribution and Cre-8 Media Ltd.

After the success of the first Our Art Neighbourhood project, there was a desire by local residents to see more permanent art works in the area, as a way of improving the visual landscape and street scene.

Over the past couple of years, we have started to do just that by engaging artists who are good at working with people to achieve small scale but beautiful public art works. We have been looking to make improvements to neglected spaces in our area, including street corners and verges.

Inspired by the Incredible Edible movement, we have commissioned a planter sculpture from artist Mark Mennell which was sited on the corner of Windermere Road and Glebe Street in the Spring of 2018. Children from Leigh Central Primary School contributed to the design and it really brightens up the street corner. We are growing edible plants and herbs in it which are free for residents to use.

Local artist Martyn Lucas, who has been co-ordinating Our Art Neighbourhood from the beginning, worked with children from Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School to make ‘bollard art’. Installed in March and April 2019, these vinyl wraps have been inspired by looking at archive photographs of the area, local buildings and trees. They are making a colourful and informative addition to our streets.

Watch highlights of Our Art Neighbourhood...

We’ve created a short video showing some of the highlights of Our Art Neighbourhood – improving the look of our streets with community art.

Local people and artists working together to improve the look of our streets. Celebrating nature, local history and famous people from Leigh and building community spirit.

Wall of Fame

During the summer of 2020, Martyn was able to complete the first stage of another urban art project in our area. The blank brick canvas which is part of the ‘little Asda’ car park, off Leigh Road, has become a Wall of Fame celebrating people from Leigh who have found fame or made an impact in the worlds of music, art, science, literature, sport, entertainment and public service.

Children from Leigh St Mary’s CE Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School contributed wonderful drawings for the designs, responding to old photographs and records in the Leigh Local Studies Archives. Martyn worked with the children to make a series of metal plaques portraying well known people including Georgie Fame, Heather Frederiksen, James Hilton, Kathleen Mary Drew Baker, Pete Shelley, Tommy Sale, Thomas Burke, Ken Platt, Arthur Turtle and Alfred Wilkinson.

Martyn says: “It is great to be involved with Leigh Neighbours Project and working with local people to make improvements to the area through art in public spaces. Art can inform and inspire and I think this latest project does just that. There is a blue plaque in Wilkinson St in honour of writer James Hilton and a gold painted post box on Market St for Heather Frederiksen. I thought it would be nice to celebrate more people from Leigh who have received recognition for great things that they have achieved.”

At the end of June 2021 we were finally able to celebrate the Wall of Fame with a public launch event. 14 plaques are installed and more could be added in future as the list of local people who might be worthy of recognition continues to grow.

VE Day Celebrations

Community Spirit

Residents living on Walmesley Road decided that they wanted to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory In Europe) day despite the covid restrictions that were in place in May 2020.

They decorated the road with bunting, made themselves afternoon tea and chatted (socially distanced of course!). Residents and Leigh Neighbours members Jan and Bill organised a quiz and laid on music.

The weather held up and there were effigies of Winston Churchill and Boris Johnson.

Volunteer here!

Volunteering in the community is one of the most rewarding pastimes that can be enjoyed by absolutely anybody and everybody.