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Local Charity becomes Preston's latest Real Living Wage Employer

10 November 2023

It is Living Wage Week, an annual celebration of the Living Wage movement, where employers take a stand to ensure their employees earn a wage which is enough to live on.

Dig In North West is a Preston-based charity, located at Ashton Park Walled Garden, that supports those who have served in the armed forces and emergency services. The charity predominately helps the recovery of military personnel, the emergency services and their families from the effects of PTSD and other mental health issues experienced as a result of their service.

People get together and do something practical that benefits both themselves and serves others, helping each other through the tough times and celebrating the good times.  

Activities include gardening, growing plants in the greenhouse to sell, or food in the garden to share with the group. There is a fully stocked carpentry workshop and opportunities to learn new skills such as photography or stone masonry.

The charity, run by Claire Grant, Project Manager, helps volunteers and staff to rebuild confidence and purpose, and to ease the transition back into civilian life. The charity has been paying over the minimum wage for a while, but made the decision to become formally accredited earlier this year.

Dig In currently employs six part time staff, and by paying the real Living Wage it enables them to have the flexibility to work part time whilst being able to keep hospital appointments and attend clinics without the worry of missing work and losing pay.

Claire Grant, Project Manager said;

"Paying the Living Wage makes a big difference to our staff. We wanted to recognise their past service to our country and for them to feel valued and appreciated for what they have been through.

"Not all ex-servicemen and women come out of the military environment with transferrable skills and this can make it very daunting and difficult to transition back into civilian life.


"We offer support both through the activities we provide in the garden, giving people a chance to talk with likeminded people who have had similar experiences and challenges in their life, but also give them the flexibility to find their way back to health and wellbeing without worrying about how they are going to pay their bills or buy food. 


"A large part of my job here at Dig In is to apply for funding and I am finding that funding bodies are asking more often if we are an accredited Living Wage employer. Although not an essential criteria for funding, I believe that being accredited with the Living Wage Foundation is certainly a benefit that may increase our chances of funding in the future and I would definitely recommend that other charities consider doing the same."

Councillor Valerie Wise is Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building at Preston City Council. She said:

"Dig In is a fantastic charity that does some amazing work supporting our ex-forces and emergency service men and women. Just that little bit more on an hourly wage can make such a big difference to a person's daily life, both financially and for their mental health and wellbeing.

"We would wholeheartedly encourage any company in Preston to look at becoming an accredited Living Wage employer as we strive to be a growing, vibrant city with a thriving and fair economy for all. The real Living Wage is crucially important in our commitment to Community Wealth Building in the city, otherwise known as the Preston Model."

The new Living Wage rates for 2023/24 were announced in October. Living Wage UK rates for the UK and London have risen, meaning a pay-rise for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Visit the Living Wages website to find out about the new rates of pay and how you can become a real Living Wage accredited employer.

Visit the Dig in website to find out more about how you can donate or get involved.

Living Wage Week 2023 - YouTube video