Seen from the window of a passing train hurtling into Wigan you’d probably think it was the offices of some aspiring local business.
And in essence, you’d be right.
The Platt Bridge Community Zone, on Ribble Road, is a great example of how the community and the council can work together to improve the lives of local people and provide exciting activities.
It started out life in 1999 as the Platt Bridge Youth Zone – a ‘one stop shop’ for young people.
By 2004 it became obvious that the centre could offer something for everyone in the local area and hence the Community Zone was born.
And now the Zone is rapidly becoming the borough’s latest business ‘hub’.
The Zone has championed the cause of entrepreneurial local people by providing ‘business incubator units’ – that allow those with a great idea the chance to grow.
It also provides business support facilities for training and meetings and even a ‘virtual office’ facility.
The venue has a meeting room, ICT suite and conference facilities all for hire.
It’s creating jobs, opportunities and most importantly, hope.
David Baxter, who manages the centre for the council, explained: “The aim was to provide the borough with a venue to learn new skills, take part in hobbies and to assist in supporting business enterprise opportunities through offices and training facilities. “
It really captured people’s imaginations and the local community took the building as its own. People who live locally are involved with all aspects of life at the Community Zone.
They work here, they play here, they even help to run the place.
So what’s on offer at Platt Bridge Community Zone? There’s a private nursery providing the best in childcare; an Art Zone with a regular weekly painting class; The Youth Matters club providing young people between the ages of eight and 16 with plenty to do.
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Environment, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “The Zone is a fantastic example of the kind of thing a community can achieve with a nod in the right direction and a bit of support.
“Over the years more than 50 local people have been involved in the running of centre and many more have got so much from what the zone has to offer.
“It’s seen people go on to take up education and employment opportunities and enjoy a new lease of life.
“In today’s climate where we want to work closely with local people to help them provide more for their communities, we have a model for success right at the heart of our borough.”
To find out more about opportunities at Platt Bridge Community Zone, visit Platt Bridge Community Zone or give the team a call on 01942 828986.
It worked for me!
Martin Davies first came to Platt Bridge Community Zone in 2003 as part of a placement with Training Network.
It worked for Martin, Dawn and Maurice.
Within a couple of months Martin gained employment with Embrace as their job share admin assistant and then within a couple of years became their Systems Manager, managing network and computer issues, as well as developing and designing all marketing materials and website.
Martin then took this role on further in 2008 by setting up his own enterprise, Chameleon Design. Dawn Smalley is a 30 year old mother of 2 who lives in Platt Bridge.
She first visited the centre in 2005 to attend Skills for Life course held at the Community Zone through Wigan and Leigh College.
This helped Dawn to develop the skills to become a volunteer teacher at Platt Bridge Community School. Dawn also was able to use the centre for childcare.
In 2008, Dawn commenced a work placement at the Community Zone as part of a Wigan and Leigh College course.
Then in 2009, Dawn set up her own enterprise named Youth Matters, designed to allow children a place to undertake activities and learn skills as well as allow parents a chance to attend courses to develop new skills.
In September 2009 Dawn won the Volunteer of the Year award as part of an awards night run by Wigan Council Youth Voluntary Service. Maurice Walsh came to the Community Zone in 2009 through Work Solutions. After a few months, he got a job as the building’s caretaker.