Wigan Council and the people of the Borough are working together to develop plans for a COVID-19 memorial, in the form of 'places of reflection'.
We want to acknowledge the enormous loss, as well as the inspirational and admirable contribution that local communities have made. We want to recognise the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and help people to look to the future.
From September 2021 to January 2022, supported by Minerva Heritage, we consulted 328 people through a combination of online surveys and individual/group consultation, to agree an approach to developing and delivering a Wigan Borough Covid-19 memorial.
The consultation took place whilst the pandemic was ongoing, and included: community interest groups, charities, funeral directors, faith groups and bereaved families. Group consultations took place with youth groups, a local high school, NHS and a group for older people.
Should there be a memorial?
There was overwhelming support for a COVID-19 memorial, although views on what it should be varied enormously. Emerging themes from the consultation indicated that a COVID-19 memorial should:
Serve a purpose
- Offer opportunities for quiet reflection
- Help to overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic - encourage social interaction, offer opportunities to meet with others, support confidence building
- Support people and organisations to connect and network with each other for future benefit
- Support and improve health and wellbeing.
- Easily accessed by everyone in the Borough, either in their immediate locality or easily accessed by public transport
- Inclusive - access should not be limited by barriers e.g. economic, social, cultural, disability etc.
- Free to access, outdoors, utilising the borough’s green spaces.
Tell the collective story of the Borough’s experience
- Benefit the whole Borough and allow the people of each ward to tell their own story
- Communities should offer their stories - providing different perspectives on the pandemic experience
- Allow strands of the story to connect and come together at a focal point in the Borough.
- Further consultation throughout the whole process
- Engagement and other specific projects in locations across the Borough, that are led by community groups / individuals
- Contribute to the design, form, content and construction of the memorial(s).
What happens next?
Our next steps will be to:
- Work with communities to progress designs for places of reflection, as focal points for people to remember, reflect and recover
- Provide an ongoing engagement plan to integrate community voices, as well as a programme of events and activities borough-wide
- With permission, use the information gathered during the consultation process to add to the Wigan Borough COVID-19 Archives.