Blackpool Carers Centre is an independent registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. It is a network member of Carers Trust.
When the Princess Royal Trust for Carers’ Northern Office opened in 2000 the then, Network Development Manager, Carole Cochrane CBE DL, contacted all local authorities in Lancashire to discuss the possibility of forming new partnerships. From this contact came the opportunity to work with Blackpool Council and Blackpool Primary Care Trust (PCT) both of whom were keen to form a partnership that would eventually see the development of a Carers’ Centre in Blackpool.
In 2003 a steering group was formed to take the venture forward and it was agreed that Blackpool Social Services would employ a manager who would recruit and train a board of trustees in order to achieve independence.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers provided 1/3rd of the funding for 3 years, matched by the PCT and an ‘in kind’ contribution from the local authority.
In addition to this the local radio station ‘Radio Wave’ adopted the development and raised a significant amount of funding for the initiative. Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, launched this adoption at Blackpool Tower in April 2004.
After much searching a venue was finally located, Norman House, and opened in 2005.
In 2006, a young carers’ support worker was appointed followed in 2007 by an adult carers’ support worker and an additional worker on the young carers’ team. At this time the Centre took over the database of adult carers from Blackpool Council .
Over the next two years the Centre became established.
During 2008, Rank Foundation became involved with the Centre and, recognising the need for promotion, provided funding for an Information and Promotions Officer. This helped the Centre to raise its profile locally by attending events and publishing a range of literature.
In 2009, additional funding was provided by Community Foundations for Lancashire to support the development of the core function. This funding was a lifeline at a time when the local authority was beginning to face challenging times in relation to its own funding.
At the beginning of 2010 and following the government’s Carers’ Strategy document, NHS Blackpool supported the organisation to develop links with GP practices in its aim to support carers’ own health and wellbeing. This was a key development in linking healthcare with carers’ support services. Dementia training was also designed and delivered in partnership with Alzheimers Society and Blackpool Advocacy.
In 2010, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation provided funding for a Family Worker based in the young carers’ team. It was recognised that young carers cannot be helped without support being provided to family members for whom they are providing care. This step change marked a diversification of the work provided as mental health, substance misuse and family work became a key element of support provided.
During 2010, demand for the young carers’ team increased and led to the development of a tiered service using Professor Saul Becker’s assessment tools.
A further development was the recognition that vulnerable families required the most intensive support when the Centre was closed and the Out of Hours Family Support Project was funded by the Innovations Fund during 2011.
During this year, the Centre worked towards Hear by Right and developed a young carers’ charter that was presented to Sarah Teather MP at Westminster in 2010.
Also during 2010, Lloyds TSB Foundation provided funding for a volunteer coordinator over 18 months. This supported a dedicated worker to develop recruitment, induction and training guidelines for an effective volunteer workforce within a safe framework.
During 2010, Rank Foundation’s Time to Shine provided funding to employ a Young Carers’ Champion. This successful project demonstrated Rank’s ‘pebble in the pond’ effect. With minimal funding the Centre worked with a young carer who had grown up in crisis. This young carer was supported to provide training to professionals including teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers. The project raised the profile of young carers in Blackpool and the young carer won a variety of awards.
During 2011, NHS Blackpool worked with the Centre to develop a service based at the hospitals supporting carers in the acute setting. This work was based on the Moffat Report, a study carried out in Scotland demonstrating the benefit of supporting carers in this settting and the positive effect on re-ablement.
Children in Need provided three year funding for an Activities Coordinator in 2011 and this was a welcome addition to the team at a time when demand was stretching the service. The challenge was now to fundraise so that respite activities and trips could be provided.
At this stage, the Centre had started to provide work placements for students and one ofthe students prepared a paper on Young Adult Carers following her interest in this area of work. This piece of research formed the basis of a bid to the Health Lottery in 2012 and the 16-25 project was launched.
During 2011, statutory funding cuts were imminent and Blackpool Carers Centre worked through a process of merger with Blackpool Advocacy. Half way through the year, it was felt that carers would suffer as a result of this merger and the Centre pulled out of the merger.
The Board made a strategic decision to develop social enterprise under the new landscape of choice and control within the personalisation agenda. With a Santander Award (Social Enterprise Development Award), the Centre opened its first shop in Blackpool followed by a second shop in Cleveleys in 2012.
During 2012 the Eric Wright Charitable Trust provided funding for a Business Development Officer to drive forward the development of chargeable services. Following this a decision was made to appoint a Retail Manager.
Rank Foundation agreed to extend their funding for the Support Services Manager for a further 3 years.
The Board developed a trustee lifecycle programme and carried out a recruitment process. A governance subgroup was set up in order to work through an action plan. A risk matrix was developed to ensure robust management of risk through this period of growth.
During the year, we extended the tiered service across adult provision to ensure resources were focused on those carers most in need. We also introduced a new assessment tool to measure impact of interventions.
We developed a programme of out of hours support for young people living with parental substance misuse. This was a partnership grant application to Department of Education with Blackpool Council.
During the year, the Director of Adult Social Care and Director of Young People and Families signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a protocol realting to young carers for all local statutory services.
The highlight of 2012 was the young carers’ conference headlined by Professor Saul Becker. We welcomed 100 delegates from across the region.
At the end of 2012, NHS Blackpool provided transition funding to support the core function of the Centre and it was decided to appoint a Resources Manager and a Quality and monitoring Officer. We were featured on ITVs Daybreak Programme in December.
2013 saw the beginnings of the parent carer project, Hand in Hand with a student social worker consulting with affected families. We worked in partnership with Scope to provide a programme of activities.
The Cranfield Trust provided a mentor to help with the development of a new strategy and operational plan.
We developed a strategic partnership with Spiral Health CIC and successfully applied for a grant from Triangle Trust to appoint a lead hospital worker based at the Nurse Led unit in Bispham.
During 2013 we achieved PQASSO level 2 and the Carers Trust Centre of Excellence award. We rebranded as Blackpool Carers Centre in order to benefit from the national brand.
We closed the Church Street shop and reopened this as a drop in town centre venue for carers. At the end of the year we opened our furniture store in Bispham Village.
During 2013, our hospital project was featured on The One Show. The William Openshaw Trust funded a programme of tea dances which focused on identifying older carers, particularly those caring for someone with dementia.
We accessed funding from Comic Relief and Public Health Blackpool to support the widening of the Family Focus project supporting families living with parental substance misuse. Both Children in Need and Esmee Fairbairn extended their 3 year funding for an additional 3 years. Working with such high profile funders has helped the young carers’ project raise awareness. This group of young carers won a radio commercial competition, raising awareness of mental ill health as part of the Altogether Now programme.
In 2013, Lloyds Bank refunded the Volunteer Coordinator salary for 2 years.
2013 saw the launch of the successful corporate partnership between Carers Trust and The Cooperative. This resulted in funding for a Young Adult Carers Worker for 18 months.
We appointed a professional PR consultant for one day per week in order to raise awareness of carers and improve the profile of the centre. Sainsburys selected us as their charity partner for the year. Hayley Kay from Radio Wave became our Ambassador.
During 2014 we developed a partnership with Empowerment and Age UK Blackpool in order to deliver memory screening and a discrete dementia support programme. We developed the very successful dementia training programme for carers.
We developed HUGS (Help, Understanding and Group Support) for those caring for someone living with poor mental health.
In order to encourage carers to self- refer, we opened the Church Street shop as a drop in venue.
In order to fund our Young Carers Champion role, we designed a new fundraising challenge called Cash Quest for Carers. This raised £15,000 by providing £50 to a number of companies who had 100 days in order to raise as much money as possible. This was linked with Carers Trust’s new awareness raising campaign: Britain’s Best Breakfast. The AGM was attended by over 100 people and we launched Rocco, our new charity mascot.
The Pilgrim Trust helps to expand the capacity for the Family Focus group by funding a worker for 2 years.
In order to continue the legacy left by Progress Recruitment, we took over the Work Experience Project providing work experience to young people with additional needs. This link with local businesses provided opportunities for fundraising partnerships.
The Care Act came into force finally recognising carers in law. This came at a time of reducing statutory budgets. In order to prepare for increased demand for services, we introduced a time limited, more intensive service package.
In 2015, we finally achieved the Big Lottery Funded ‘Hand in Hand’ project after two years of preparation. This provides support for parents who are looking after children with additional needs. This was set up at Church Street drop in.
A new Siblings project was funded by The Christine Walker Fund from Soroptimist Blackpool and District Branch and St James’ Place helped us to continue the Young Adult Carer project for 12 months.
The hospital project made strong links with the End of Life Care Team.
The charity worked with Layton Ward Councillors to run Layton House in Grenfell Avenue. In addition to being a valuable community resource, it soon became home to the dementia project and our volunteer counsellors.
The Family Focus team were funded by the Headstart Big Lottery Fund to train on the use of the M-PACT programme.
Towards the end of the year, Tudor Trust awarded a grant for three years to support our central costs.
In May 2015, Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust purchased Blenheim House on Newton Drive in Blackpool and this marks the beginning of a capital campaign to develop a vibrant new centre for carers.
As a result of the partnership with Beaverbrooks, we won the Lloyds Foundation Regional award for Enterprising Collaboration, North West. We were also finalists in the HSJ National Awards for Carers.
Professor Saul Becker took up the role of our first President.
During the first quarter of 2016 we were delighted to have been selected as this year’s DIY SOS and BBC Children in Need Big Build Special.