Wigan social enterprises are taking centre stage at the town’s former Debenhams store.
The building was formally re-opened on Thursday by the Mayor of Wigan Kevin Anderson as the flagship Rebuild With Hope outlet store, a charity that supports people struggling to get into employment.
And Proper Good Wigan – which supports social business to grow – has taken pride of place, to showcase the best of the borough’s social enterprises.
The Proper Good programme delivered by Wigan and Leigh Community Charity offers free-to-access business support, funding, networking and training led by entrepreneurs who know how to run proper businesses that do good in their communities.
Three social enterprises – community bike shop The Wigan Cycle Project, Wigan Workshop CIC, and Craft Hive CIC – were the first to make the pop-up space their own on opening day.
Mark Harrison, director of The Cycle Project: “We’ve been busy from the moment we set up at the store, it’s been great to see people support our local social enterprise and pick up a bargain, too. We have small bikes from just £5. All the money raised goes back into the project to buy more parts and to provide cycling services to the local community.
“The project has a simple but very important goal: to reduce waste and get people cycling. We put recycled bikes back on the street. We accept donations of bikes from the public and will still use them for parts if they are in poor condition. In fact, we couldn’t survive without these donations.”
Dave Baxter, from Wigan and Leigh Community Charity, which runs the Proper Good programme, said: “We all know shopping locally and using local services is vital for a thriving community. It is so important to get the amazing work local social enterprises do in the forefront of people’s mind.
“Our space in the store will allow local independent businesses to offer their goods in the manner of an artisan market with pop-up events. And we hope the ever-changing products and faces will encourage more people to pop in and discover our ‘proper good’ social enterprises.”
The space will also act as an information point for businesses and potential social entrepreneurs looking for help to join the 250 social enterprises already operating in Wigan or to take advantage of the many benefits of the Proper Good programme.
Dave added: “We are here to shout about our brilliant social enterprise sector to a wider audience.
“We have worked hard to attain the SE UK Enterprise Place kitemark for Wigan Borough which recognises the strength of the social enterprise sector in the town.
“One of the key aims is to encourage local residents buy locally. This opportunity could not come at a better time than the run-up to Christmas. Now shoppers in Wigan will be able to pick up the perfect gifts, with the satisfaction of knowing they are supporting businesses who reinvest the profits to improve their community.”
The Rebuild With Hope store in the Grande Arcade is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm.
Social enterprises interesting in popping-up at the Proper Good pop-up space should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01942 732 022.