As part of our work to create a greener, fairer & stronger future for all people, communities and places in Greater Manchester, we offer coaching and mentoring to people in the community who have an ambition to grow and develop. By working with people within a community over many years, we’re able to build trust and strong relationships with communities and identify people who, with a little support, could become the community leaders of the future.

This couldn’t be truer than in Brinnington in Stockport where we have been active since 2015 as the Local Trusted Organisation for the National Lottery funded Big Local programme.

Communities Manager, Nina Burns, took a lead role in the programme from the start and has become an honorary member of the community ever since!

Jule Lotus Allotment Green Thumbs

Local resident Julie Loftus has lived in Brinnington for most of her life and heard about the Big Local initiative through friends and neighbours. One day in 2017 she popped into a meeting, purely out of curiosity, to find out what they did. Despite feeling completely out of her comfort zone when arriving, this feeling quickly disappeared. She was greeted by friendly and welcoming faces. The room was full of banter, and it was clear that everyone there loved Brinnington as much as Julie did.

A few weeks later Julie met Nina. Her first impressions of Nina were positive, she came across very professional, down to earth with the added bonus of a sense of humour. Nina soon had the meeting under control and was able to keep the room interested in the matters in hand.

Nina’s role in Brinnington was to support the community to develop their ideas and help bring them to life. This would not be possible if volunteers didn’t feel confident in their ideas and themselves, therefore Nina takes time to build people up. She added,

Lots of people have experienced personal struggles in their lives, been knocked down, told they can’t do things, so it’s often a shock when they hear someone like me saying yes, they can. I avoid telling them the answer and work through their ideas and support them to remove any barriers at a pace that suits them, often, it’s their self-confidence and there is no greater reward than helping them realise they have it in them all along. Together we identify any learning or training needs and put these into place. I merely reignite their capabilities and they do the rest

Nina and Julie crossed paths more and more often, as Julie started to become more involved in community activities. Nina encouraged Julie to attend the next committee meeting and before she knew it, Julie had joined the committee!

Since then, Julie has attended 95% of the meetings, has become Chair of Green Thumbs Community Gardens and has progressed from committee member to Vice-Chair and now to Chair of Brinnington Big Local.

She added,

I can honestly say without meeting Nina that day I would not be the person I am today. Back then I had no confidence in anything I did but Nina has encouraged me to grow in confidence and ability, as she does with all members of the team, to achieve goals we never thought we could.

Julie encourages everyone she encounters to get involved in Brinnington Big Local, explaining that if people can overcome their fears and just pop in, they will be met with welcoming hearts and support.