Seventh incarnation of Wigan Council’s community fund to provide boost for borough’s young people

photo of children in front of the message bus

A youth project in Leigh which tackles isolation and improves the mental wellbeing of many young people in the borough is one of the many community projects to benefit from this year’s Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment Fund (DFCIF).

Originating within the walls of Christ Church Pennington, Soul Leigh has supported hundreds of children in the last few years by ensuring they have access to positive role models and the ability to participate in a range of activities with other similar aged participants.

Last year the group reached youngsters aged between 11 and 16 by driving a ‘Message Bus’ around the community. Over 100 could be at any one of the 24 sessions which brought an inflatable football pitch and various other activities on the bus to an area.

Wigan Council is now making a three-year £45,000 investment into the community group so they can expand their youth provision and continue the work that has already been started.

Leader of Wigan Council, Coun David Molyneux, said: “We recognise the importance of supporting the borough’s young people and their aspirations. The funding underlines our commitment to investing in our communities and recognising the transformative role they can play in improving peoples’ lives.

“Soul Leigh is a fantastic initiative and I look forward to seeing how the council’s investment will develop the provisions already in place that can make a really big difference to many young peoples lives.”

The seventh round of DFCIF aims to solve some of the borough’s biggest social problems and scores of projects are now set to receive vital funding boosts.

Last year, the council asked for ideas that could ignite young peoples’ ambitions. The latest round of funding comes on top of the £10m already invested by Wigan Council to help community groups.

A priority for this round of funding was to see bids that could demonstrate a high level of collaboration and reach within the wider community.

The Christ Church Pennington model is a perfect example with connections at the church, schools and the wider community with links to the Wigan Community Partnership and Ambassadors in Football.

The group is built on the idea of building meaningful relationships between young people who find things in common.

Rev Alan Saunders who first arrived at the church four years ago has been at the heart of the group since it started.

He said: “If we invest in young people now then the hope is they will develop as people and contribute to the town in many years to come.

“The idea is to provide young people with the tools they need and build confidence for them to take the lead eventually on projects.

“You hopefully end up creating role models within as youngsters who started with the group at 11 or 12 then end up leading the way as they get older and inspire ones who are starting out.”

With the pandemic hitting many voluntary organisations hard, the money will be going towards new equipment to support new initiatives like their online creative hub which is bringing live streams of quizzes and games to young people who are used to be socialising outside.

Examples of other successful bids:

Leigh Hackspace: Providing opportunities for children and young people to make their future through learning skills including electronics, computer coding, recycling, design and technology.

Women for Well Women: The freedom flowers programme will work with the children from families of Domestic Abuse. This will be delivered along with 1-1 support for children within primary schools within the Wigan Borough.

Wigan and Leigh Deaf Children’s Society: A project delivering a programme of development activities designed through consultation with clients.