BETA is a Registered Charity established to improve Literacy and the love of learning.

BETA is committed to researching local history and recording local people’s memories for the future.

Access to this research is in printed books and digital formats. The research is available free of charge via this website.

BETA works with the local community, taking part in local heritage events, thus furthering education and access to local history.

BETA - Basic Education & Training for Adults was established September 1991. BETA researches local history working with and for the benefit of the local community.

BETA organises community events and presentations. These activities are funded through small grants and fundraising and are run by volunteers. BETA has seven regular volunteers and can call on more when needed. These volunteers cover a wide range of ages and ability.

BETA does not have any paid staff.

BETA is a registered education charity and is well established in Wigan and known for research into local history, working with a diverse group of local people of all ages and abilities.


In September 1991 Eileen Bithell and Eileen Walsh had a dream of offering free help to adults regardless of age or ability and, most importantly, that they would never put personal gain before those to be helped. This free help was to be on an immediate individual basis in Literacy, Numeracy, Job Search, Life and Social Skills.

Eileen and Eileen set up in St. John’s Presbytery through the kindness of Father Tillotson. We started with paper, pens, books, an old typewriter and a small group of adults needing educational help. After only two weeks we were offered employment with Wigan Training Services, which we declined and then were offered a sub-contract which enabled BETA to be able to afford to rent their own premises in Rodney House in March 1992.

In February 2,000, Eileen and Eileen were successful in receiving a small Millennium Grant which enabled them to open an internet café, BETA Netc@fe, offering employment to 12 disabled adults and free I.T. tuition. Eileen and Eileen, together with their families, set up and decorated an office turning this into an internet café. This offered a friendly supportive atmosphere conducive to learning.

Eileen & Eileen building the counter at the BETA Netc@fé

People Helped by BETA

During the last 27 years over 2,700 adults of all abilities have been helped by BETA.

Many of those helped by BETA gained employment e.g.:

10 people who are now in the Police,

8 people in the Prison Service,

9 people who are now in the Armed Services,

26 women workplace returners are now nurses

1 man is now a doctor (G.P.)

3 BETA Volunteers became teachers

Many others went onto further education and a range of other employment

During the 27 years, BETA has employed 10 people as Sessional Tutors.

BETA has trained 30 volunteers and still has 8 volunteers who help with events, fundraising and research

Schools and Community Groups in receipt of BETA Research books and Reminiscence boxes


Researching 2,000 years of Wigan’s History

Research Book printed “A Window on Wigan’s History”. History Exhibitions: in Wigan Town Hall, Museum of Wigan Life and Grand Arcade.

Wigan and the English Civil Wars
Research and book to commemorate the 350th Anniversary of Wigan being granted a Sword of State and Charter from King Charles II in thanks for the support given by Wigan to the Royalist Cause.

Research book printed “Wigan and the English Civil Wars” . BETA organised a day re-enacting Wigan battles in the ECW, including Musketeers firing from Wigan Parish,Pike and Cannon battles in Wigan Town Centre. Parades and exhibitions were also held.

Local life in the 1950’s and 1960’s
Research, local memories and photographs

Research book printed “When We Were Young”. Local exhibitions held of 1950’s and 1960’s memorabilia. Books and Multi-sensory Reminiscence boxes distributed to local Community Groups, Dementia Groups etc.

Wigan in 1937 compared to 2017
Memories and photographs

Research book printed “Then and Now Wigan in 1937 And 2017”. Local Exhibitions held of 1937 and 2017 Memorabilia. Books and Multi-sensory Reminiscence boxes distributed to local Community Groups, Dementia Groups etc.

Local Memories of World War One

Research book printed “Local Wigan Memories of World War One”. Exhibitions held and books distributed to local schools and community groups.


A Window on Wigan’s History Wigan and the English Civil Wars When We Were Young
Then and Now Wigan in 1937 And 2017 Local Wigan Memories of World	War One


BETA 1950's Reminiscence Box

1950's Reminiscence Box
BETA 1950's Exhibition
1950's Exhibition
BETA 1950's Exhibition
1950's Exhibition

BETA 1960's Reminiscence Box

1960's Reminiscence Box
BETA 1950's Exhibition
1937-2017 Reminiscence Box
BETA 1937 2017 Exhibition
1937-2017 Exhibition
BETA 1937 2017 Exhibition
1937-2017 Exhibition

beta wigan display 1
beta wigan display 2
beta wigan display 3

Wigan Armed Forces Days and World War One Displays in Haigh and Wigan Parish Church

beta wigan display 4
beta wigan display 5
beta wigan display 6


Health & Safety Executive Commendation for Special Initiative

BETA Duke Westminster Award
Receiving our award from the Duke of Westminster. This trophy is now on display in Wigan Town Hall.

Wigan Best Small Firms Highly Commended Award

National Training Award Council Commendation for Training

Citizenship Award For Outstanding Contribution to Community Education

Roy Castle Gold Award for BETA

The Big Issue Award For Making a Difference in the Community

Winner of the Duke of Westminster Trophy For Excellence in Business

North West Manchester Awards Winner Women Social Entrepreneurs of the year

SustainIT—Digital Inclusion Award at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London

Cultural Partnership Recognising the Arts Award for Innovative Event

Positive Action Award North West

City & Guilds and OCR RSA Approved Centre

UK Online Centre Award

Wigan Borough’s Heritage Network Award in Recognition of BETA’s Contribution to the Borough’s Local Heritage

BETA Wigan present 1
Certficate Presentations by Alastair Burt
BETA Wigan present 2
Certficate Presentations by Shaun Edwards

BETA Wigan present 3
Citizenship Award from the Mayor of Wigan
BETA Wigan present 4
Digital Inclusion Award


Eileen and Eileen and BETA volunteers organise fundraising such as:

BETA Wigan casino 1
BETA Wigan casino 2
BETA Wigan casino 3

Casino and Las Vegas Nights

BETA Wigan crumball 1
BETA Wigan crumball 2

Charity Crumball Rally Car Event as Ghostbusters

BETA Wigan murder mystery
Murder Mystery Nights
BETA Wigan panto
Panto plays


BETA has been successful in grant applications from:

BETA Wigan grant 1
BETA Wigan grant 2
BETA Wigan grant 3

BETA Wigan grant 4
BETA Wigan grant 5

BETA – Registered Charity No.1070662

Email: eileen@betanetcafe.co.uk

Copyright © 2000-2018  BETA