Women of Wigan

This international womens day in our little part of the borough, it felt like the ground work that we’ve been busy with over the last few years is starting to blossom, and beginning to bear fruit. Thanks does need to go to Alice at ReMade Wigan CiC who’d pulled together a programme showing just what was on offer. She’d also supported much of it too. Given that you’ll never hear her blowing her own trumpet, I thought I’d do it here!

Over at CommUnity Corner we had a brilliant day celebrating and resting together. We had Gina offering crochet, Emma of Lets Shape Our Creativity offering rock painting, Sammie of The Happy Place CiC offering badge and chalk board making, Janet offering Reiki and Margaret offering cake. In the evening we enjoyed a Women and Young Girls FoodShare with a quiz hosted by Lisa. We had a right laugh.

Last year we gathered together and collected some words from Wigans Women.

This year we collected more words from Wigans Women. Over the course of the day, and, the next day or two we asked local women the following three questions.

1. What’s your work in the world? (Mission / passion)
2. Why is this important to you?
3. What could women in Wigan achieve by coming together that would improve lives for all.

Here’s what the women and young girls we asked had to say. We’d love you to get in touch and join the gallery.

Victoria Give it a Grow Wigan, Digital Finch and Springfield, Beech Hill and Gidlow CommUnity (to name but a few things she’s involved with.

There’s not just one piece of work—I feel like I was never made to do just one thing. A lot of my work is creating design and art. I also love working with people and bringing folk together, so I host events and create spaces where people can connect, especially in natural settings.

I care a lot about bringing people together and creating design that works harmoniously. The power of healing and being in nature while working and learning together is amazing. And the way we interact with our surroundings and the decisions behind that can really impact how we feel and live, too, and so I love to combine that for positive change.

I know so many passionate women with fantastic ideas. I’m sure many societal issues could be reduced with increased togetherness and support for each other.

Alyce – Founding Member of the Pound for a Playbox Campaign

I’m really passionate about being a good big sister.

If I’m not good at being a good sister my siblings are going to hate me. Or, they’re going to have a bad time and they won’t enjoy coming out with me. So I’d like to give them as many moments with me whilst I can.

I think how people believe that men should get more money and that they get a better chance in competitions needs to change. Because really when women are powerful and really smart, we outsmart them. If we don’t get the right to be equal, what’s the point of having women in the world. We give birth, we have periods and all that, and it’s complicated and people say men have it worse, but both of us have it worse. And I just think that we should all be equal.

Alexa – Founding Member of the Pound for a Playbox Campaign

I’m really passionate about football and I really care about my family.

My family are important because they are the people who have been with me my whole life and the people I rely on the most.

Football is important because I enjoy it.

Women could come together to change the way the boys treat girls in football. We need boys to see that girls are good at football. Make it fairer for girls football.

Janet – Reiki Master

I’m passionate about helping people and getting a result that is positive for the community. To empower people to achieve their full potential.

It’s important to me because everybody needs a little bit of help in order to get to their full potential and I like being that help.

If women came together in Wigan we could literally change the world if we tried. By coming together, believing in each other, believing in ourselves, and loving ourselves.

Meryl – Dog Lover, People Lover, Drumming Lover

I love dogs. I like spending time with people. I do like this community coming together. I’m passionate about the samba band. It’s a community thing again about coming together.

It’s the social aspect of it again. It’s not about the music because it’s naff sometimes. It’s getting together with people.

Everybody has to be included and everyone should get on.

Wigan women could help each other out if we just accept everybody and be inclusive. Welcome everyone. It’s good to be nice. Just be nice.

Sonya – Drummer

I’m passionate about drumming and my baby.

Drumming is important because we empower people to join us and my baby because she’s my whole world.

There’d be more groups for people. We could set up groups for first time drummers. Anything musical.

Gina – Artist and Creator at the Happy Place CiC and beyond

Changing peoples lives for the better. Helping them to have a safe and accessible space where they can be their self and be creative.

A lot of people don’t get to express themselves how they want to. I believe that everyone should be able to express themselves any way that they want to, and, creativity is the only way to do that.

Women in Wigan could work together. We’re all in it together, so don’t be selfish and work with everyone else, because we are all going towards the same goal.

EllieEpic Hope

I have to spread my sparkle around. To show people, and I know this for a fact, that you can get through any adversity if you’ve got people around you. ‘There are amazing things waiting at the other side of adversity. Better things. If you hold on.

I don’t know why it’s important to me, I just know it’s something that I’ve got to do, so I do. I’m an encourager. I was born to encourage other people. I’ve got a big squishy heart and I can’t help it. I’ve seen my heart. It’s got lots of scars on it, they’ve faded. But when you’ve got a squishy heart you’ve got to share your heart with everybody else. That’s what I’m here for. I feel I’m here to help in suicide prevention and I know I’m here to write and I know I’m here for all those other things but ultimately inside, as a person, splot in the middle, all I ever want to do is encourage people and let them know that they are loved. And I know it sounds cliche but it is true. Love is at the centre of it all.

First of all I think we are already doing it and it’s just us constantly communicating with others, that it’s here and that we grow what we are doing now. And listening to everybody, every woman has a voice. Making sure every woman’s voice is heard, whatever age they are because there’s wisdom in the young and there’s wisdom in the old.

Jude – Environment Lover

I’m passionate about the environment. I want there to be no litter. I want people to walk safely down the street and not be frightened of the dark, especially women in this local environment.

It’s important because it gives a better community feeling for everyone involved. People can look out and appreciate that it looks nice outside.

We could do more for women in Wigan by promoting that we have places for women to go. And they can help each other, teach each other, share ideas, advice. There’s always someone who knows something.

Lisa – Community Builder

Being an ear for someone to talk to. Being there, treating someone as an individual and equally.

Because it’s not always been like that for me. So I feel like if someone’s got a problem or something they want to talk about, there should always be someone there to listen.

I think we’ve already started it and we should have more places like this (community corner). Groups of people coming together and helping each other and being there for each other through whatever it is that’s going on in someone’s life.

Sue – Crafter

I’m passionate about any type of crafting, creating, doing anything for yourself and feeling like you’ve made something that’s new.

It makes me feel better about myself, because I start with bits and pieces and I end up with something I quite like the look of. An achievement – I’ve done that and it doesn’t matter what it looks like. It’s a unique part of me.

I think all women in Wigan should know there is somewhere to go and stop their busy life and enjoy the relaxation of crafting ,rather than being a housewife, mother, partner, worker and all the organisation it takes to juggle all these titles. Women need to balance their mindset with the calm, enjoyable, therapeutic feeling that creativity brings. Women deserve to switch off, laugh, chat, share stories, enjoy downtime, they can… through creativity!

Sammie – The Happy Place CiC

Arts based and mental health related. Trying to help people with creativity. To help people feel like they’re not on their own. We want to create a community of people who use creativity as their happiness and their happy place

Because I had a break down about four years ago. It was really bad, my Mum had to do everything for me and I wouldn’t leave the house. The support that my Mum looked for wasn’t there for me. So, coming out of that and feeling better in myself, I want to create that for somebody else. That creative network of people who help each other. The support given to me by my family and friends during my breakdown, made it possible for me to survive it. That’s what I want to create, for people who don’t have those relationships. Everyone should know that they aren’t alone.

We need to come together in some way or another. When women build each other up it’s a lot different to how your family and friends might big you up. Women on women is a proper power network. I don’t think there’s enough of that. There’s a small community that know each other here and we need to reach further out. Creating a network of women will help in so many ways.

Jan – Justice Campaigner – JENGBA

My passion is fighting for justice and equality. No more racism in the world.

Past experience has taught me that there’s a lot of injustice in the world and that if you ignore it one day it may touch you or someone you love and it will be too late. Every opportunity to help other people, grab it.

I think small community spaces are great place for women who’ve never met each other before. If you’ve got a good demographic of ages and experience everyone can pass on and share their knowledge. What people know from the past is what you need to know for the future sometimes.

EmmaLet’s Shape Our Creativity

As well as being a mum to my two girls, I feel absolutely privileged to be able to provide the community with arts and crafts to help improve mental health, wellbeing and improve isolation.

It is something I’m highly passionate about as I know first hand the benefits arts and crafts can have on your wellbeing. It is extremely rewarding to watch the people that attend my sessions grow.

Wigan women could make life better for each other by coming together, sharing experiences and stories, knowledge, mentorship and support. I think that’s what women are all about. When we come together we can take on the world.

Clare – Community Organiser, Campaigner, Founding Member of Grass Roots of Wigan and history lover

Since retiring from a life sucking, high powered job, I no longer have specific work, yet I’m busier than I have ever been throughout my entire life. Besides being a mum, I wear many different hats, I run a local history society, a community garden, I’m a river conservationist, and a parish councillor amongst other things.

I suppose they all point to the same thing, I am passionate about my local area, its environment, its history, its culture, its people and in fairness.

Women coming together can do so much for one another by just being there, forming friendships, sharing things, learning from each other, being supportive and through all these things acquiring a sense of empowerment in the knowledge they can make a difference and make changes for the good where it’s needed.

Vicky – Founding Member of GRoW, Local Councillor

I’m a big advocate of communication. I like communicating with people, helping them and changing their environment through communication.

When I started volunteering there were a lot of community groups doing their own thing but they were lacking in volunteers and money and some ideas and some technical skills. But when you bring all those things together and communicate with people about what different organisations do, you find that they want to get involved as well. And you get more people involved who can bring more skills to the table.

We could do more to support each other as women in Wigan if we made it known that you are a person that will help other women. If you make it known that you are willing to look after someone’s children for an afternoon or lend them a bit of money when they are desperate or pick something up for them. If you’re willing to support your little network of women like your neighbours and your children’s school friends Mums then people will be more willing to approach you. There’s still a stigma for asking for help and we shouldn’t have that stigma.

Vicky – Nurse and Sewer

My proper job is a nurse where you have to follow policies and procedures and do as you are told and my real purpose is to share the love of sewing. To teach everyone a skill because I’m a latecomer to sewing. My Mum never taught me and she was a seamstress. To share the love and recycle. You can go into any charity shop and make something new.

It’s important because a lot of your life is about following rules. You’re told where to go, what time you have to be there, what to wear, what you have to do. But with sewing it’s just a creative process. And your clothes, whatever size you say you are, there’s no labelling. You’re not labelled as to whether you’re tall, petit, slim, 10, 8, 24. It doesn’t really matter. It is what you are. And it’s an extension of you whatever colour you wear or whatever fabric you choose

If I had to do something to bring the women of wigan together I think we should start with learning how to sew and pulling together fabrics and getting maybe a charity shop overhaul and pull it all together and maybe have a sewing bee challenge. Make anything. You choose it. Let’s do it.

Olajumoke – Maker with Beads

I love to make with beads, yes that is what I really love to do. I’m very creative in bead making because I can just imagine anything and use bead to create it.

17 years ago I saw many people using beads. I asked the people who were making beads what I would need. And I started making crowns, which is mostly common in Africa. Two kings came into my shop and said they wanted two crowns. I had sleepless nights. And I did it.

Women can come together in Wigan to encourage others . We need to let women be creative and know that creativity is important. Because this helps you lots. It helps the mental health, because when you get yourself engaged, before you know it, because you are concentrating on what you are doing and not thinking about this and that. You leave your problem. We just need to let the community know that this can help their mental health, when we are creative together. Because when you are alone you can think about unnecessary things. All ages can bead and come together as a community. They can choose any creative work, not just bead. I’m passionate about beading.

AliceReMade Wigan

My work is also my passion – providing space for women to come together and support one another. We do creative things together and it seems to work.

It’s important as I see women smile, sing and make friends…it makes a difference to them, they go out in the world knowing they aren’t alone.

I’d ask that we are generous with our stories, our hearts, our hopes and dreams. Whether that’s filling in a survey, protesting, making a podcast, checking in with a neighbour, making sure the drunk girl gets home safe, or shouting from the rooftops how much we care about each other…then we need to do it. We can show young women and girls that there’s a future worth fighting for, that we won’t stop working, learning and believing in our worth as Wigan women. If we talk about life as a woman loudly and publicly, our ideas and perspectives will end up taking shape and changing our town for the better.

Gill – Northern Heart and Soul, Springfield Beech Hill and Gidlow CommUnity, GRoW

My passion is to be a small part of a magnificent network of people, mainly women, that make each other’s lives richer, a space in which to be our most human self. Id really like to feel connected to the earth more and to be a small part of women feeling more confident, able to access things like exercise without shame, insecurity or being self conscious, to love ourselves unequivocally.

It’s important because as women we hide, we cover up, we disguise ourselves, we punish ourselves, we worry ourselves, we don’t take up space and we should.

There’s so many things I personally would love to do but life is very busy, I think we’re starting to see much more spaces where women can come together and form those bonds of support and access their creativity from the sober spaces at fur clemt to our very own hula fitness. More of the same I say!

Angela – Northern Heart and Soul, Springfield Beech Hill and Gidlow CommUnity, GRoW

Aside from being a Granny I love hosting spaces where people can come together and rediscover themselves and each other. I also enjoy a bit of good mischief making, especially when it gets people to see things in a different light and new possibilities emerge- anything that bigs up collectivism and mutuality is my thing.

It’s important because we’ve all become out of kilter with each other and the Earth. We’ve fallen for traps and down holes and we need each other to find our way back to a bit of balance.

Wigan women could guide us towards the future we really are longing for. And we don’t really need to do anything special or extra because we have the wisdom in our hearts and in our bones. It will just naturally start to happen as connections deepen our relationships and bonds and we begin to act collaboratively & collectively for the common good.


Community Builder