Plans to spend £10m in lottery cash on helping some of Blackpool’s most desperate and needy people have today been welcomed by community groups in the resort.
But some have questioned whether the cash will go far enough to make a real dent in the town’s social problems – and suggested the money could be used to help other worthy causes.
As reported in yesterday’s Gazette, the Fulfilling Lives scheme, which is being spearheaded by Blackpool Council and the charity Addaction, will see 24 specialist workers take to the streets to help vulnerable people including the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics and those with mental health problems.
It will operate out of a new town centre hub and aims to turn around the lives of 800 people over the next seven years.
Ian Coleman, president of the Blackpool Royal British Legion, added: “Some ex-servicemen and women face the kind of issues this scheme will be looking at – things like homelessness and mental health problems – which is not surprising when you consider what some of them have been through.
“When people come to the welfare side of our branch for help we do what we can and refer them to our county office for more support.
“So while I’ve no problem with the principle of trying to help others there are plenty of other worthy causes that could do with help too.”
Bruce Allen, of the Mereside Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “There is no doubt these people need help.
“But £10m to help 800 people doesn’t seem good value for money when you break it down. I worry what will happen when the money runs out - will they be left high and dry?”
Christine Phillips, a trustee of Fylde Coast Churches Alive based on Raikes Parade, said she supported the idea of helping the needy through the Big Lottery Fund cash.
But she accused the council of ‘double standards’ after its decision to refuse to let His Provision, part of the Churches Alive organisation to take over the defunct Hoyle House on Grange Park to provide lodgings, personal support and skills training to help vulnerable people back into work.
“Some of those people living on the streets may not meet the council’s own criteria of having lived in the area for three years to qualify for housing help,” she said.
“If they are going out onto the streets looking for people they won’t find those living in damp and squalid bed-sits who have always lived in Blackpool.”
But a council spokeswoman said that if someone was found from outside the area they would be supported to re-locate to their home town.
And Coun Gillian Campbell, the council’s cabinet member for housing and public protection, said: “All across Blackpool we have fantastic services helping residents who are battling to overcome complex problems.
“While all this good work is already taking place there are obvious benefits of a more co-ordinated approach that ensures that people get the best possible support.
“I’m absolutely delighted Blackpool is receiving this funding.
“It is a huge amount of money, a life changing amount. So often we receive funding that only allows us to scratch the surface of a problem.
“This £10 million can make a real difference to so many lives, it is fantastic news for the town.”
Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Blackpool Council, said: “We know all too well that Blackpool has issues with our general health and receiving funding from the lottery fir this project is a huge boost.”
Click here to read more on this story: £10M TO HELP BLACKPOOL’S MOST DESPERATE RESIDENTS