Community space transformed thanks to volunteers

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Photo 1: Simon Calderbank (far right), Councillor Chris Ready (2nd from right), Jackie Lowe (2nd from left)

A Bickershaw field has been transformed into a welcoming community garden thanks to resident dedication.

Bickershaw Residents’ Association has been maintaining part of Victoria Fields off Bickershaw Lane since 2015 after agreeing to lease the land from Wigan Council.

Over recent years the shrubbery and trees have overgrown and pathways have become uneven and residents were unable to make use of the community space.

As part of The Deal council staff and staff from Hindley prison organised a volunteer day to clean up the area. Simon Calderbank, a principal environmental officer at the local authority, led the community day.

Jackie Lowe, member of the Bickershaw Residents’ Association said: “We had been speaking with Simon about the work that needed doing on the field and he quickly realised that it would be a really big job for a small residents’ association.

“Instead of leaving the area as it was, he swiftly arranged for council and Hindley prison staff to use a volunteer day to clear pathways and cut back foliage.

“We are so thankful to Simon, the council and the prison for their hard work. They definitely went the extra mile and have made the space more accessible and welcoming for visitors.

“Simon is a true ambassador of working with communities and believing in their full potential. We will continue to work in partnership to further develop our green space in Bickershaw.”

Speaking about the volunteering, Simon said: “It was clear that the work to be done on the field would need more resources than the residents’ association could provide, so I didn’t hesitate in offering some volunteer time to help out.

“We need to work together and take pride in our borough, so it was a pleasure to help out and I’m glad Jackie and the association are pleased with the outcome.”

Bickershaw Residents’ Association have previously received £8,000 from the Deal for Communities Investment Fund, which was used to provide an information board at the front of the land and to install outdoor artwork created by local school children and youth and elderly groups.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities at Wigan Council said: “Through The Deal, we’re committed to working with residents in a different way so that we can build a stronger borough. It’s fantastic to hear that council employees are going the extra mile to help our local community groups in this way.

“The Deal for Communities Investment Fund can help with a range of ideas and ambitions and creating a welcoming community space for residents to enjoy, especially outdoors during the nice weather, is a brilliant use of that money.”

Jackie and the Bickershaw Residents’ Association are also really keen to continue working with the community and hold seasonal events for local people, such as an Easter trail, scarecrow trail and much more.

Most recently, they have been working closely with Men’s Sheds, a community group based in Platt Bridge, to install raised beds for planting vegetables for the local community such as potatoes and onions. Jackie also hopes to install two further beds in the future for some sensory plants.

Mark Livingston, Governor at HMP & YOI Hindley said: “I am delighted that we were able to support the really important work being undertaken by Bickershaw Residents’ Association in maintaining Victoria Fields.

“The establishment is signed up to ‘The Deal’ in Wigan and I am personally committed to ensuring that the staff and prisoners at Hindley are able to do our bit to be good neighbours and support the community in both our immediate vicinity and across Wigan.

“The work at Victoria Fields is a great example of what can be achieved and I look forward to engaging with lots of other opportunities within the borough.”

For more information on volunteering in Wigan Borough, visit www.wigan.gov.uk/volunteering.