Meet the hard-working people who are making a real difference to people’s lives in Winsford…
“Anyone for a brew?”
That’s the familiar, friendly welcome you can expect from our community engagement officer Debbie Skilling if you pop in to the GGO ‘Bungalow’ on Finsbury Walk, Winsford.
We are here on a Tuesday morning and the place is buzzing with activity.
Emily, Charlotte and Bev - some of the dedicated volunteers that put their blood sweat in tears into GGO – are discussing their next venture. A weekly lunch club for older people is top of the agenda, something very much in keeping with the group’s desire to bring the community closer together.
In the next room, Emily’s grandmother Margaret and her friend Barbara are putting the world to rights during their ‘knit and natter’ sessions.
It’s the friendly faces that make GGO what it is.
GGO West Winsford has been the beating heart of the Greenfields, Glebe and Over Estates since it was formed in 2010. The dedicated volunteers have set out to bring about positive change to their neighbourhood.
From organising community events, to providing advice and support for local residents – GGO is a trusted voice in the local community.
Margaret has been coming here for the past four years and loves the opportunity to socialise with people from across the estates.
“I love coming here,” she said.
“I like meeting people, and everyone is so welcoming. I’ve been coming here for a while now and I really enjoy the knit and natter sessions. It also gives me the excuse to get away from my husband for a few hours!”
Her friend Barbara moved to the area nine months ago from Berlin, and admits get involved with GGO has helped her to adapt to life back in the UK.
She said: “Meeting new people was important to me after being away from the UK for so long. I’ve got involved with a few things since coming here – from the kids Halloween parties to these knit and natter sessions.
“it’s a great community hub and something I’m proud to be apart of.”
The Bungalow has recently undergone a facelift, thanks to the efforts of the super volunteers at The Prince's Trust TEAM Programme, which was led by the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
As well as the lunch club, the GGO Getters are pressing ahead with other plans for the future. GGO recently purchased sensory play equipment, with the hope of hosting more children’s parties. They also have the ambition of holding a regular playgroup for children with special educational needs.
“The work we have done with GGO gives you a real sense of achievement.” says Bev Cross, who has been involved with GGO over the past 5 years.
“I have a job so it’s good that I can apply myself to something positive outside of work. When I come here I’m not just a member or staff or someone’s mum – I feel like we are making a real contribution to the community.
“My daughter has got involved now and she helps me the craft sessions. It’s increased her confidence massively over the years.
“We want to get more people using the Bungalow for a variety of things. It’s a great facility and it’s here for the whole community to use. “
And Emily Warren knows more than most when it comes to the positive impact GGO can have on people’s lives.
“GGO came along at a crucial point in my life,” she said.
“I was going through a very rough time - my mum had passed away a few years before and I was struggling to deal with this, I had little friends or social interaction outside of my family, when I did go out I would suffer panic attacks and was eventually diagnosed with Anxiety.
“Still, I attended that first meeting with trepidation and well, its three years on and I am still here - only now as vice chair of GGO West Winsford. I doubt I would have found the strength to deal with the situation I was in without the support of my fellow GGO Getters.
“I think we are making a real difference locally, we are putting on events and trying to bring people together. We have all become really good friends and I feel I can talk to the girls about anything. I am so much better now and am so lucky to call this group of amazing people. They are not just my colleagues, but my friends too!”
If you would like to find out more about GGO West WInsford, visit their Facebook page.