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Wigan unit for 'troubled pupils' closes

Sue Astley of Aim Together North West. The company, who helped troubled youngsters, has been wound up
Sue Astley of Aim Together North West. The company, who helped troubled youngsters, has been wound up

A community interest company in Wigan which catered for youngsters who struggled with mainstream education will not be returning for a new school year.

Liquidators have been called in for Ashton-based Aim Together CIC, which was set up by former Wigan Council education welfare officer Sue Astley.

The decision has been taken to voluntarily wind up the Redgate Road company after a creditors meeting took place on June 22.

Council bosses say Wigan students have been offered alternative arrangements for the autumn term, after the company’s affairs were placed in the hands of Old Trafford based liquidators The Debt Advisor.

Aim Together had built up a reputation by working with students who had a variety of issues, ranging from anxiety and stress to social phobias, and had encountered difficulties in conventional classrooms.

Support was offered, either through one-on-one counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy or self-esteem and self-confidence workshops, at their centre on the South Lancs industrial estate, as it was felt there was a “huge gap in the market in Wigan” for such services.

Alan Lindsay, assistant director for education at Wigan Council said: “It’s always concerning when children experience a change in their educational provision, especially if they are settled there.

“Aim Together CIC was mainly commissioned on a part-time basis by some of our secondary schools.

“It’s our understanding that all children who attended the centre have been offered a suitable alternative, and we will continue to support those children and their families.”

The outfit, which catered for 11 to 16-year-olds, had been trading as a community interest company since September 2016 but it is understood Ms Astley had been running a similar consultancy for a number of years before that. It focussed providing “isolated young people”, with “valuable life skills”, according to an entry on an educational website.

Sue Astley was one of three registered directors for the company, alongside Gemma Ascroft, who worked as operations co-ordinator, and Jodie McGarrigan, listed as office and exam co-ordinator.

All three are based at The Common, Parbold, according to Companies House.

The company was unavailable for comment as the Wigan Post went to press - their registered telephone number was out of order and their website was no longer functioning.

But when interviewed about the venture previously, Ms Astley said: “We’re all here for the same reason, to help young people through at a stage in their lives with nothing else available to them.

“We’re re-engaging them with education, get them some qualifications and make them more confident.” The company, she said, aimed to “enrich social and emotional development”.