Gill - Dreamer

Gill Wright

Angela - Dreamer

Angela Fell

Ben Dreamer

Ben McNamara

Northern Heart and Soul CIC

Meet the Directors of Northern Heart and Soul CIC – Angela and Gill.

Angela - Dreamer

What’s your dream?

To become a connected community. I believe the more connected we become then we’ll naturally become healthier, safer and friendlier place for all. When people feel a greater sense of belonging, they tend to look after the place better too. I also believe that the more we find out about the people who live here, what their dreams are, what skills they have to contribute to community life, then as well as growing a flourishing associational life we’ll also discover the community businesses and co-operatives we can create and support, and, the land and property we can bring back to the commons to share.

What has brought you here?

I’ve spent more than 30 years working in communities or in public institutions always seeking to ‘make a difference’ or make life better for people. It’s been a great big fail. I think I was over focused on changing systems rather than relocating power and authority directly to communities. Usually either the money ran out, leadership changed, or, those in systems became threatened when people started to do too much for themselves, or, do things that might not be in the institutions strategic plan. Like, yes please take over the library and run it for free, as we can no longer afford to run it, but, we’ll decide where all the community infrastructure levy from the new housing is spent.

Why is this important to you?

It’s important to me as I really believe in the possibility, potential and power of communities. I think the idea of self-organising and renovating neighbourhoods has been limited by short termism. This is long term work, and who knows if it will work. But I’ve committed the rest of my working life to giving it a good go. I remember my Mum, at a particularly low point in my younger life, sending me a card, that said, ‘if you don’t have a dream, how can it come true.’ I believe this is the type of dream that people and planet are yearning for. Acting locally, impacting globally.


Angela has spoken about and written a number of articles and blogs about her love for community.  You can find some at the bottom of the page.

Gill - Dreamer

What’s your Dream?

The dream is to live, work and play in a happy, safe and welcoming community. A place where people are connected, look out for each other, have enough and believe in themselves. A place where people work together for the common good, challenge unfairness and create and sustain wealth.

Why this Dream?

I have spent the majority of my career so far in systems and services with an innate draw to working alongside people as they navigate through different and often difficult stages of life. Unfortunately, each and every system or service became unbearably frustrating, and often painful to work in. These systems we set up to help people often become restrictive and dehumanising. I found I didn’t have the desire to climb over people for professional gain or the ability to ignore things that weren’t just. When the pandemic struck it was a great opportunity to re-connect with my community, I discovered new friends, old friends and the slightest possibility that there may be another way…. a better way.

Why is this important to you?

We’ve become so fixated on how services and professionals can fix us that we’ve forgotten what we are capable of. So tied up in the master servant story that our instincts now are to be referred somewhere if we have a problem, expect someone else to do something about it. We’ve become passive, complaining, by standers in our own lives. We are more than that, every single person has something to offer, a skill or a gift to share that would enrich another’s life. I want to be a part of the change rather than a restricted cog in a systemic wheel.

Ben Dreamer

What’s your Dream?

The dream is to see a community in which people work together and support each other, socially and economically, creating equal opportunities for everyone to thrive. Also to create an environment that is safe and enjoyable to live in, where the green spaces come to life with nature for the benefit of the community.

Why this Dream?

I have always found volunteering enjoyable and rewarding, it keeps myself busy and offers me interaction with people from all walks of life that I would not otherwise have. I joined Northern Heart and Soul to offer a ‘little help’ in a way I know how, by offering to do admin work.

Throughout my life I have benefitted from a ‘little help’ from many people, I believe it all adds up to a richer life experience and can repay itself many times over.

Why is this important to you?

I believe it is important to support, enjoy and love the part of the world we share. Equal opportunity isn’t something we should have to look towards an outside agency for and the first place we should seek to demonstrate equality is within our own communities.

Northern Heart and Soul CiC formed in August 2021 by Angela and Gill. We receive investment from Lankelly Chase Foundation as part of Greater Manchester System Changers and are members of the New Northern Weave.

The CiC holds much of the risk and accountability for the mutual aid group so that in the hyper local work community members can focus on neighbouring and growing associational life. This governance model is seen as a temporary measure until the association of associations, or whatever democratic structure that grows in the neighbourhood is sufficiently developed.

We act as fiscal hosts for the recently launched Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield Women’s Network, and, convene a Participatory Budgeting Network which brings together four neighbourhoods with a varying range of hyper local democratic structures.

We hold three intentions:

  • To nurture a self-organising and self-renovating neighbourhood in the ward of Wigan West in order to create a more connected, healthier and wealthier community. With a particular focus on care, women, children and young people.
  • To convene neighbourhoods in the borough of Wigan who are interested in relocating authority to citizens and community building from the grass roots out.
  • To collaborate, through Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield Women’s Network, with women led and socially trading organisations, to create a more just and fairer future for all. 

Thanks to some investment from Proper Good Wigan Borough we are currently in a coaching relationship with Jess Steele of Hastings Commons, so who knows what might happen next.

Further Reading

The Function of a Neighbourhood
A Conversation with Julian Abel of Compassionate Communities

The Feeling’s Mutual
Can we be less prescriptive and ‘more pigeon’?  A conversation with Vidhya Alakeson, Founder of Power to Change and hosted by Bob Thust and Maff Potts.

Reclaiming Citizen Power. 
A conversation with Peter Pula of Axiom News.

We need to move from person centred to community centred services.  A blog for the Kings Fund

Growing Community Power through Community Poo. A blog for Neighbourhood Democracy Movement

James and the Lemon Drizzle Cake