Grassroots groups in Wigan set for £2m windfall
The council has announced a community resilience fund to support volunteer organisations in the borough.
Groups will be able to bid for a share of the funding when the application process opens.
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux praised grassroots groups in Wigan and Leigh for the work they do providing services and putting on activities in sport, arts, culture and leisure.
He also said they had played a vital role in Wigan’s response to Covid-19, particularly during the first lockdown last spring, and it was right that they are now helped to prosper at a time when coronavirus restrictions make fund-raising tough.
Coun Molyneux said: “The number of community groups and volunteers we have got in the borough is exceptional.
“I know many small organisations, youth groups, community interest companies (CICs) and other have struggled in terms of getting funding together and we feel it is important they survive and we give them as much support as we possibly can.
“We are very grateful here in Wigan. We saw something like 1,000 volunteers supporting our work at the height of the pandemic and that was critical in terms of delivery.
“Once again the community of this borough shone. I can’t put it in any other words.”
The council is currently working on the details of the application process but Coun Molyneux says he wants to get the criteria drawn up and the application process under way as quickly as possible.
The borough’s community groups now range from well-established and quite large concerns which effectively sit alongside the public sector as service providers to enthusiasts putting on activities and sessions for local residents.
Coun Molyneux says he is determined to see the cash from the new Community Resilience Fund distributed as widely as possible, with the largest number of groups benefitting from the pot.
The borough’s cabinet has also said that any group which is eligible to receive Brighter Borough funding from their ward councillors will also qualify for this fund.
Coun Molyneux said: “If you are running something in a church hall for 20 people that is significant. It might be a Brownies group, it might be a junior football team, we can see it makes a difference.
“This is not just for big organisations, it’s for the smaller ones as well. That is critical.
“If we started to lose a dozen or so small groups there would be a significant impact on their communities. We want to make sure they are there for years to come.
“All these groups are having an impact on mental health or physical health and we want to support that right down to the grass roots.”
Coun Molyneux also addressed criticism aired at the recent full council budget meeting that town centres other than Wigan and Leigh in the borough were being neglected and are not receiving enough cash.
He said Covid-19 had brought home to the council just how important to residents their immediate surrounds are.
He said: “With Covid it has become more clear how much people appreciate their district centres. We mean to deliver a significant investment and we want to work with communities on this.”
Coun Molyneux also said the Towns Fund, which had to be put on ice last year due to Covid-19, is being relaunched with a larger sum in the pot.
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