More than 4,000 residents have been diverted from front line services in Wigan Borough thanks to innovative partnership working with the community.
By the end of 2018, Wigan Council will have invested £10m into local areas through its Community Investment Fund with more than 560 community organisations funded and 11,500 activities delivered to date.
A huge range of projects, aiming to tackle social and economic problems, have been funded including schemes to reduce social isolation, increase mental health awareness, encourage involvement in sport, and boost health and wellbeing.
And for every £1 invested the council is seeing a return on its investment. With thousands of residents’ accessing vital services through these projects, it means the local authority is saving money and pressure is taken off front line services.
The Deal for Communities Investment Fund was introduced in 2013 to offer local groups and organisations funding so they could provide services, activities and support from the heart of local communities.
Lynn Addison is the centre manager at Women for Well Women, a Leigh-based organisation supporting vulnerable women over 18 across Wigan Borough, which aims to restore confidence and maintain positive mental wellbeing.
Earlier this year, the group received a cash boost of £76,000 over three years to go towards mindfulness courses and gentle exercise classes such as yoga to improve physical and mental wellbeing in women who may not have the confidence to engage elsewhere
Lynn said: “This money will help to provide even more opportunities for our service users who may have experienced mental health conditions, domestic abuse or social isolation or are simply looking for friendship.
“Our focus is on improving lives and giving women the information they need to make positive life choices. This can be through counselling, crafts, advocacy work or other methods such as the courses we’re looking forward to implementing.
“We’re passionate about women empowering other women and many of our volunteers are previous service users, so we can really tailor support and empathise, which makes all the difference.”
Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities at Wigan Council said: “We’re really proud of the investment fund and the successes it has seen over the years.
“By working in a different way with our residents and communities, we can save money while making services much more effective and accessible.
“Wigan Council is investing money in communities, an average of around £20 for each resident, which really demonstrates our commitment to putting resources back into local areas.
“With £160m to save from our budget, the government cuts mean each household is around £400 worse off and we are actually bucking that trend and investing back in.
“Since launching the investment fund, we’ve really gotten to know local areas and their needs and we have supported people to raise awareness about a range of topics.
“The fund is more than giving out money; it’s about building an ongoing, strong, partnership between the council and community.
“We owe an awful lot to our community groups and we thank them for their continued hard work. They are a key part of how we’re able to keep council tax low and put money into front line services.”
For more information about the Deal for Community Investment Fund, visit www.wigan.gov.uk/thedeal.