Charity announces cafe and youth zone plans for empty building

Trevor Barton MBE from Trust in Leigh and Gemma Atkinson, office and business development manager from Wigan Borough Community Partnership, outside the former Shopmobility building outside Spinning Gate shopping centre
Trevor Barton MBE from Trust in Leigh and Gemma Atkinson, office and business development manager from Wigan Borough Community Partnership, outside the former Shopmobility building outside Spinning Gate shopping centre

A borough building which was left empty following the collapse of a charity branch is soon to be reopened for public use.

In January, trustees at Shopmobility shocked staff and customers by announcing the closure of two stores after 30 years of helping disabled and elderly people in Wigan and Leigh.

However, local charity Trust in Leigh quickly seized the opportunity to get the Gas Street building back up and running and now have announced thay they have signed a 12-month lease for the building from Wigan Council.

The organisation, which focuses on “enabling and co-ordinating” social enterprise in Leigh - is currently conducting a public consultation asking for ideas for the building and has also revealed some of its own plans.

“We want to use part of the building for those with mental and physical disabilities,” said Trevor Barton MBE, chairman of Trust in Leigh. “The cafe would be a good place during the day time to introduce people and people with dementia.

“In the evening we would like to try to set up a mini-youth zone and install some good quality Wifi.

“It’s very early days which is why we are doing a consultation as well. It’s absolutely ideal for a youth zone. It’s in the town centre which is where some young people, who are vulnerable, hang out.

“We think it’s a great place where we can do street games without disturbing people. “

The initial lease will last for a year, at which point the services will be reviewed by both Trust in Leigh and Wigan Council and a decision will be made whether to continue with the contract.

“We have had all sorts of ideas,” said Mr Barton. “By and large there have been very positive thoughts. We took the keys off the council this week. We have obviously got to clear it out of the stuff in there left by the previous tenants.

“We would perhaps like to install some Wifi and then in two or three weeks times we will be open for business.”

A number of Leigh residents have already come forward with ideas for the building’s use, including a shelter for the homeless, and an internet zone equipped with PCs and printers.

Several residents also backed the idea for a youth zone or “something for the kids.”

Anyone wishing to share their thoughts can contact Trevor at trevor.barton@wbcommunitypartnership.org.uk or call 0797 311 6985.