An image of the front of the main building at Edge Hill University. The image is set in the day.

News Story

Young people explore barriers to social and economic justice in Wigan

Publish date: April 21, 2022

A group of marginalised young people from Wigan have created a thought-provoking research project exploring how to improve social and economic justice.

The Creating Sustainable Futures project, which brought marginalised young people from the borough together with Edge Hill academics and a variety of Wigan based social enterprises, has been exploring ideas of community wealth building and some of the possibilities that social enterprises might offer in furthering social and economic justice.

Participants have used photography to create a photo story in the form of a digital magazine encompassing their lives and experiences of work, community, and their hopes for the future.

The group – who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, some with physical disabilities, some neurodivergent – will be discussing their photographs at the event and how they represent barriers they face and their hopes of overcoming them.

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Amy Bell said: “It’s been great to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on opportunities in Wigan and make others aware of the difficulties people with disabilities face when looking for a job. We found that many small businesses aren’t adapted for disabled workers which instantly makes the job market a lot smaller.”

“I’ve also learnt a lot from being part of the project, I’ve grown in confidence, seen how the community can come together to solve problems and learnt a lot of professional skills”

Ella from Happy Smiles Training said: “It has been great to have my thoughts and experiences heard and shared in a creative way.”

This project was a collaboration between Edge Hill University, Wigan Council and the local social enterprises Wigan and Leigh Community CharityMade in Wigan, Embrace Wigan and LeighHappy Smiles Training and Made in WN8. It also had input from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

An image of Victoria Foster looking into the camera, there is various greenery in the background.
Dr Victoria Foster

Dr Victoria Foster, Associate Director of Edge Hill’s Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) that funded the project, said: “We’re all so proud of what the group have achieved, and the findings have been thought-provoking. It’s been an absolute pleasure to give a voice to this group of young people and hear their innovative ideas on how to bring down the barriers that prevent them from achieving their goals.”

Andy Taylor form Wigan and Leigh Community Charity said: “It was a pleasure to be involved in this project and to work with Victoria and the young people.  They really bought into the idea of enterprise and particularly social enterprise, as a way to grow the local economy and support local communities. They had great some ideas for a mini enterprise and produced some quality goods for the Christmas Markets event”.

Claire Burnham from Wigan Council said: “We hope that we’ve inspired young people to think differently about their future opportunities. Here at Wigan Council, we’re committed to working alongside third sector organisations to create more opportunities in our communities. Through Community Wealth Building we want to raise young people’s aspirations”.

To find out more about the project and to view the digital magazine created by the young people visit: creatingsustainablefutures.co.uk/.