Long before most airlines cottoned onto the idea of collecting loose change for charities on flights back home Blackpool motor dealer Crowden Collins founded Change for Charity – which did just that.
The charity coined it in to help others by turning all those unwanted Spanish pesetas, Italian lira, German marks, Greek drachma and more back into ‘real’ money – good old British sterling.
The euro may have since elbowed the old time currencies aside – and the local airport collection point has long since gone (along with the airport’s own £10 development tax per passenger…) – but the charity has diversified and raises money through special events and matching funding.
As chairman of trustees of Change for Charity, resort based businessman Crowden presented £9,000 to Blackpool Carers Centre – and has pledged further support for the charity’s ambitious plans to build a better life for young and older carers.
Former young carers’ champion and now specialist support worker Camilla Ball – along with charity patron John Barnett and wife Danielle – were delighted with the generous donation.
Oscar Swift, 11, who helps out at the carers’ centre, was one of the first to wear the ponchos and wellies bought with the cash, as the centre is kitting young carers out for a typical Blackpool summer, along with funding special treats, activities outings and allied facilities.
Crowden explained: “It’s great to see the money already being put to good use. I don’t think anybody who comes to Beaverbrooks House can fail to be impressed by it and all the activities here. It’s a very worthy cause and there’s such energy and enthusiasm and passion and principles to drive it on. There’s much more to come from the centre, in terms of help for carers, and Change for Charity is committed to supporting it.”
The resort carers’ centre, based at Beaverbrooks House, Newton Drive, is now the best known in Britain since starring as the BBC DIY SOS Big Build for Children in Need last November. Up to £1m worth of help in kind – supplies, equipment, labour and lots of cakes – was donated by an army of contractors and tradesfolk, from across the North West.
Some of the volunteers stayed on to help the charity kit out the staff quarters above – after the TV crew moved out. Others regularly assist the charity in other ways. And one young man Daniel Foster came as a DIY SOS volunteer, stayed as a volunteer for the charity itself – and now has a job on staff.
Meantime, the fight for funding in troubled times continues. Help in kind isn’t cash in hand or at the bank and much of the charity’s funding from other sources is for specific jobs, roles, functions or projects, all of which have massively expanded as part of the ongoing legacy of DIY SOS.
Charity CEO Michelle Smith says: “We value all our funders but it’s such a welcome relief at times to get a donation which comes for us to use as we wish – and Change for Charity simply wanted to ensure the donation helped young carers.”
Change for Charity started in the ‘90s when Crowden hit on the innovative idea of coining in cash for charity from loose change from foreign holidays.
More than 40,000 local schoolchildren and others – including showbusiness personalities and business leaders – rallied to the appeal enabling Crowden’s charity to hand over more than £17k to help fund what became known as Brian House at Trinity, the Hospice in the Fylde.
In more recent years the charity created a real buzz by donating £3,500 – a sum matched by the school – to fund a honey bee hive for Anchorsholme Primary School as part of a broader project to educate children about the environment and the crucial role of bees.