|Happy Birthday… Platt Bridge Community Zone!
L-R: David Baxter, Platt Bridge Community Zone Co-ordinator. Cllr Eunice Smethurst, Abram Ward councillor. Suzanne Grimshaw from Embrace Wigan and Leigh (tenant). Diane Eatock from Mini Zone Nursery (tenant). Jean Fearns from Blue Orchid (tenant). Des White from Wigan Borough Veterans Council (tenant).
“It’s right at the centre of things. Vibrant, energetic and full of life! In fact, in some ways, it’s pretty much like any young ten year old!” laughs Dave Baxter, speaking proudly about Platt Bridge Community Zone on its tenth birthday.
“The Zone has evolved over the past decade, constantly responding to the diverse needs of local people. What began life as a one stop shop for young people, has grown into the pivotal hub of the entire community,” adds Dave, who has been involved with the Zone since 1999 and is now Centre Manager.
When it first opened its doors back in 1999, the revolutionary building was the only one of its kind in the North West and was funded via National Lottery, English Partnerships and Coalfield Challenge. Since then, it has developed as a centre for enterprise and business, whilst keeping its community agenda firmly rooted at the heart of its operation.
The Zone provides amenities for the whole community, from nursery and childcare facilities to modern business ‘incubator’ units and meeting rooms. A conference area is also available, together with an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) suite.
In keeping with its original purpose, the centre continues to be used by the community, offering activities from a children’s club and healthy living classes to youth activities and adult training courses.
“It has been an honour to work in a wonderful community such as Platt Bridge for the last 10 years and a special mention has to be made to all the young people within Platt Bridge who dreamt up the idea of such a wonderful building all those years ago,” says Dave. “Without this original inspiration, all the people of all ages who have been able to gain employment, skills, hobbies and information from attending the centre would never have been giving the opportunity to do so.”
Speaking on its 10th birthday, local ward member, Cllr. Eunice Smethurst says it’s a real asset to the community:
“The Zone provides meeting and business opportunities, not only to the residents of Platt Bridge but to the wider population of the Borough. The Zone has provided the start-up facilities that are essential to small business. The young people have used the rooms for after school activities, benefitting both their education and health! The nursery has provided a much needed, well run child care facility that parents know is a safe place for the children to be whilst they are at work. The staff are always pleasant and the achievements that the young people from Embrace do, like manning the reception desk and answering phone calls, has given them a real sense of their potential. Well done to everyone who has played a part in providing this much needed service in Platt Bridge.”
Embrace Wigan & Leigh, an organisation which helps local disabled people gain independence, has been a tenant at the Zone for the past eight years. Business Development Manager Suzanne Grimshaw says:
'The Community Zone is the real hub of the community, bringing local groups and communities together for the common purpose of making a difference to everyday lives. The Zone has enabled us to have affordable, yet professional, accommodation to ensure we can continue to help those most in need.'