Community speed-date event hailed a success

The Expo event in the Old Courts in Wigan was a Frack Free Zone
The Expo event in the Old Courts in Wigan was a Frack Free Zone

COMMUNITY groups gathered at a Wigan arts hub to search for new activists at an unusual speed dating-style event.

Groups campaigning on issues including fracking, NHS privatisation, the bedroom tax and the Devo Manc regional power deal attended the community expo at The Old Courts organised by the Wigan People’s Assembly.

Grass-roots groups from the borough such as Fur Clemt, a cafe which makes meals out of products supermarkets and shops would throw away, the Wigan Diggers Festival and Greenslate Community Farm in Orrell also joined the search for new members and explained their work to visitors.

Everyone who attended had a limited time to hear each campaign’s pitch and ask questions before an open networking session and organisers afterwards hailed the innovative evening as a success.

Graham Gifford from Wigan People’s Assembly said: “For a first event it went very well and it’s a good start.

“It’s encouraging people are getting interested in what we’re trying to promote and the people who came to do the presentations were delighted with the opportunity to talk to members of the public.

“I was particularly glad to talk to some of the younger people who came.

“I feel getting them involved is very important because they are our future and we need them to be interested in trying to promote a better society for us to live in.

“We are hoping to build on this and will definitely have another expo but we will probably wait a few months and go for a date in summer.”

Those attending the expo heard about causes as varied as battling austerity politics, transitioning towns to a zero-carbon economy and the issue of whether the controversial joint enterprise law wrongly puts people behind bars.

Campaign groups from across the North West, which currently do not have a presence in Wigan, also travelled to the borough to try to interest residents in starting up new local organisations.

The speed dating-style section of the event was followed by networking and music performances by an activist from Tameside Against The Cuts and Wigan band John the Baptist and the Second Coming.

Mr Gifford said he also hoped the event will boost the profile of the borough’s branch of the People’s Assembly, a broad national anti-austerity campaign.

He said: “If we can really get the group off the ground in Wigan we can hopefully be the catalyst for supporting all the different campaigns and groups.

“That’s the main drive behind what we are doing, to get more activists in Wigan.”

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