One and a half million reasons for good causes to be cheerful

Tracy Sheppard of Resolutions Mediation and Family Group Meetings CIC
Tracy Sheppard of Resolutions Mediation and Family Group Meetings CIC

Some of Wigan’s most deserving good causes have had more than one-and-a-half million reasons to be cheerful in 2017 thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.

None more so than Wigan and Leigh Carers, which benefitted from a £478,843 handout in June, which has secured several of their services for the next three years.

Only up and running since 2010, the organisation has swiftly gone from assisting around 300 carers to providing support for more than 7,500.

And without their lobbying, they estimate that £3.5m worth of benefits due to carers would have remained in the Chancellor’s back pocket.

Chief executive Pauline Gregson said: “The lottery funding was a lifeline for us because not only can we sustain our current services but we can use this as the basis to go out and apply for more tenders.”

Just two of the services which will be safeguarded are their after-school club, for young carers, and their befriending and peer support offering, which can provide a friendly ear for those who may feel isolated, while looking after a loved one.

Pauline added: “Whether it’s for a child born with a disability or someone diagnosed with a long-term condition, caring has a life-changing effect on a person’s life, bringing with it many challenges.

“A carer’s situation can change overnight, impacting on their finances, work, social and emotional wellbeing.

“We pride ourselves in providing a wide range of bespoke services supporting and preparing carers of all ages, and their families, through these times and beyond.”

While they are based in Hindley, they also have major presences in Leigh and Marsh Green, and provide outreach opportunities through doctors’ surgeries and community centres across the borough.

One of September’s major beneficaries was Resolutions, a family mediation initiative based at Higher Folds, near Leigh.

Their three-year award will cover their work, which looks to ease family conflicts, which could range from parents and teenagers experiencing relationship issues to separated parents having contact problems over children.

Last year alone the charity assisted 42 such famillies and the £219,683 will cement their future until 2020.

Project manager Tracy Sheppard said: “It’s going to make such a difference to the work that we do and the number of families that we can help.”

The charity launched TalkFIRST in October, on the back of the funding, providing a full-time mediator who it is hoped will work with 135 families over the course of the next three years.

Mrs Sheppard added: “It makes a really big difference to people. We are giving people the opportunity to say what can help them and communicate in a way that’s productive.

“Our outcomes are about improvement emotional well-being and mental health, improving relationships and making them resilient. Through doing this, young people do better in school and behave better at home.”

Leigh Community Trust was also given £375,615, which was designed to bolster the “positive mental health” of young people across the town. This involved the training of young people to become peer mentors in their schools and youth clubs.

Through doing this, young people do better in school and behave better at home.

Other charitable and community outfits in the borough have also been kept ticking over with smaller cash injections, with the latest round being unveiled at the start of December.

Friends of Howfen received £9,950 for their A Shed Full of Memories project. This funding is set to be used to purchase huts and equipment, so people can recreate favourite spaces such as the beach, as well as providing a range of outdoor activities, events and therapies for people affected by dementia, their families and friends.

Another grant, of £10,000, was given to Wigan Veterans to provide a range of adventure sports, residential and educational activities to improve the confidence and self-esteem of former troops, bidding to reduce levels of isolation.

Sea cadets in Wigan can also buy new equipment for their structured yacht sailing scheme with a £8,860 handout.