Jackpot fund up for grabs

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COUNCIL chiefs are to put up a £2m jackpot fund to help volunteers tackle some of the borough’s biggest social problems.

The cash will be up for grabs to anyone with “big ideas” to combat ills such as childhood obesity, youth crime and unemployment.

The council has put the cash into its Community Investment Fund and is asking folk with project plans to come forward and claim it.

Voluntary organisations, groups and individuals are all being encouraged to apply if they have a plan to use the money to make a difference in their area.

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council, said the local authority wants to help people help their communities.

He added: “We want people to come up with ideas to help transform where they live.

“The world has changed. We know the council doesn’t have all the answers and we certainly no longer have the resources to do everything we’d like to.

“So this is about taking a new, people-led approach to some of our serious social issues.

“What we want is people or organisations passionate about where they live, and with a track record of doing excellent community work, to bring us plans with the power to make a positive contribution.

“It could be a sports club working to promote the benefits of healthy eating and improving physical activity or an older people’s group providing a drop-in service to elderly residents.

“We’re really open-minded about what it could be. But the bottom line is it has to help address an issue in a positive, community-focused way.”

Trevor Barton MBE, chairman of Leigh Centurions Community Foundation and chair of The Pelican Group, said: “Having worked with the voluntary sector for over 30 years I am fully supportive of this initiative and can honestly say it is one of the best things to happen to the community.

“This could make a real difference.

“I have faith that the right people will come forward with the right ideas and I will work with the council to help the community achieve their ambitions.”

The scheme was launched this week and groups have one month to apply.

Don’t delay with applications as the closing date is Sunday July 21.

Information about how to apply is available online at the council’s website www.wigan.gov.uk/bigidea

This has been found from the council’s reserves and the funding will not be replenished.

An authority spokesman said the investment has been made possible because the council acted early to respond to the government’s funding reductions back in 2010 and was able to put some money to one side.