A person reflecting on their experience being involved with The Wigan Deal - as part of the EUARENAS Project

and you can see that time going. That's when you can ask your question. OK, Ian, So can you tell me what your experience of the deal is? I've had quite a few experiences of working with the deal team because I've run quite a few projects across the borough. I'd say, on the whole the experiences have all been positive

Uh, when you apply for the deal, it's not just, uh, you know, you fill in your application, you get your money, and off you go and deliver your project. And then you you you know, you report back on it. You you do your monitoring and evaluation at the end of it, and that's the end of it

You do get a lot of support during the process. So if you have any hiccups along the way, there's a There's a team of people there who can provide you with advice and guidance, especially if things go off track because you say you're going to deliver one thing and you might need to make a variation on your project. Something like Covid might come along, so you've got to go back to them and say I was going to deliver this

But this has happened, so they will. They are flexible in what they want. At the end of the day, they want the best, the best for the borough out of it

And, uh, if they can help people like me and you to deliver these projects, people from the community delivering projects to the community, then I think it's a better use of their finances and a better use of the resources. So the concept behind the deal, I think, is brilliant, and you find the whole process straightforward. You Yeah, I've I've been writing bids for over 20 years, so I do find it straightforward

One thing that I did find a little bit annoying during the pandemic was that it was easier to write a £10,000 bid for the lottery than it was to write a £2000 bid for for the wig and deal. When they had the little bit of funding knocking around it was only five. It was five pages to write a bid, uh, for the lottery, and that first page is what's your name and what's your address, you know, and then when when you come to write a £2000 bid for the deal

They wanted a hell of a lot more administration behind it. Uh, and I know at the beginning, uh, the I think the deal has been going about 10 years now. At the beginning, the form was very simple

And, uh, I think they came was stuck a couple of times, Uh, because the form was very basic, and so they had to tighten up, you know, through due diligence over the years. But I think it might have gone a little bit too far the other way now. And I think that, you know, it should be a proportionate depending on how much funding you're going for

But, you know, I'm not knocking it. You know, the deal has been great for the projects I've worked on, and I'm very grateful that we've been able to deliver some of these projects and and and and bring, you know, community transport to the borough and also, you know, develop fix it into what it's become today, uh, helping a lot of young and vulnerable people. So basically, the deals funded two amazing projects, one that's working with young and vulnerable people, uh, at the start of their career and the start of their adult life, and then we've got driven That predominantly works with vulnerable people and older people who are really struggling to get out and about to engage with the community

And both those projects for me personally have been very rewarding, you know, And I've got you know, I'm very proud of what we've created and what we've been able to deliver You just sent. Read my mind then because I was just going to ask you which was your favourite. If you've both done different things, haven't we? You know, one's worked with young people and I've got some lovely stories about the young people that I've worked with, uh, and and again working with the old people, older people and vulnerable and isolated people at home and taking them out and about that are grateful when you take them somewhere and drop them off, even if it's just to the hairdressers or the shops, or to day care or even the flipping dentist

You know, I think the journey to the dentist and the journey back is just as important to them as having or whatever treatment it is because they they're getting out for the day for a short, a short time, you know? And the thing with the with the with with, uh with fix. It was the young people at the time didn't always realise what we were trying to do for them and with them. And it's only when I bump into him the pope

Now, when they're in the late twenties, you know, and they go. Oh, do you remember me from fix it? I says no. Because you're like, 20 odd year old got a bald head and lots of tattoos

You look nothing like he did when he was 16. What's your name? And when they tell me the name I go, Yeah, Now I remember you. So just tell me a little bit more about fix it, fix it

Uh, well, fix it was a bit of a transitional project for me because of my background was in the motor industry and fleet Management and I stumbled into youth work. Uh, when I was about 40 as a volunteer, uh, and I needed to get out in the motor trade because my body was packing up so I decided the only skills I had was as the motor mechanic. Really? Uh, and manager

So I put the two skills together and and decided to use them, uh, to help the young people that were either excluded from school at risk of exclusion and wanted a more vocational pathway into into a career choice. So that's where the idea for driven for sorry for fix it came along. Uh, regeneration fund

Uh, sorry. Coalfield Regeneration Trust funded that to start with, uh, but then when the deal came along, we looked into the deal, and the and the deal continued to fund it as it grew and developed into, uh, the projects it is today, but yeah, so that's what driven. That's what fix it was and that lead into driven as well, further down the line

Uh, because we opened a workshop and we thought, if we start the community transport project, all the volunteer drivers can bring their vehicles to fix it and have them repaired at a discounted cost and bring some revenue in. So there was another revenue stream for fix it then as well. Yeah, you're a bit of an entrepreneur then

Aren't you really serial social entrepreneur. You look for a problem and try to fix it. So have you any have you any other ideas in the pipeline of projects going on? Uh, one that's just, uh, started Well started two years ago was the, uh, urban regeneration project that's been funded by historic England

And that's doing up my own high street. Uh, there was 69 projects funded by this, and only two of them are community led. The rest of them are led by the local authority

And even though the local authority haven't put any cash into this, the deal values were still relevant because the deal, because the local authority supported my application and if they hadn't have supported it, then I wouldn't have been able to get the funding to do till High Street, which is where I live. Uh, but luckily for us and for the local authority, we secured both our applications so we can council put one at the same time for King Street. And I put one in for tills

And we're the only borough to actually have two house projects funded by historic England, uh, in the in in England, at the moment, so that's quite an accolade for the town as well. Uh, and they came to Wigan to launch it right at the start of the project two years ago. Just pre covid

So that was great. So I'm involved in that. I'm running that and, uh, something that's bubbled up, Uh, like a, uh, an unintended outcome as part of the community engagement strategy is we started a radio station for as well, and, uh, I've got some money from the deal to support that

So that was quite good. We got brighter borrow money, Uh, for that. So that's to help with our community cohesion and community recovery following following, uh, the covid pandemic

Uh, and that goes live in March, Properly live in March Or be it'll be transmitting every Saturday, then with a brilliant team of local volunteers who are keen to, uh, let me just make a difference in the community and try and help us develop the town into, uh, into a leisure and pleasure destination. Really? And last question, What advice would you give to somebody who's got, um, an idea? Um, and the thinking about the deal, What would be your advice. Ring them up to ring them up and speak to them

You can have a like, an off the record. Just casual conversation with them. Speak to them about your idea, and they will help you

They got a team of people there. Uh, Tracy, Worm old helps with the funding too. So if your idea can't be funded by the deal by the deal, they will put you in touch with the other potential funders who might be able to help you

Uh, and obviously there's loads of other beneficiaries like me and you. We're happy to share our stories and and and provide some advice and guidance if it's needed as well. But the first thing to do is just have a chat

No one's going. No one's going to laugh at your idea. They're just gonna listen to you

And if they can't help you themselves or find someone else who will If it benefits the borrower, they'll be all over it. Brilliant. Thank you very much


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