A MULTI-MILLION pound new centre for the most vulnerable children and their families is to be built in Blackpool, The Gazette can reveal.
The £2.5m NSPCC service centre will open its doors in July to combat cases of child abuse.
The new facility on Plymouth Road, Layton, will see charity workers from the Fylde coast combine with those from Preston and Blackburn at the new centre to tackle abuse.
Linda Evans, service manager for the NSPCC in Blackpool, told The Gazette: “It will really make a difference to vulnerable children and their families. Blackpool was chosen as the location for this service centre because of its deprivation level and population density.
“We will now be able to reach more families in the town.”
Six ground-breaking projects which have never before been provided to families are to be introduced to help wipe out abuse.
Neglect, sexual abuse, adult substance misuse and a programme to help vulnerable groups of parents cope with having a baby, will all be provided by the team.
A major overhaul of the former offices will allow the important work to be conducted in a safe, colourful and comfortable environment for children.
Figures from Lancashire Police revealed 856 children were victims of sexual assaults in Lancashire in 2011, of whom 75 were aged five or under, 277 had not reached secondary school age and 578 were aged 11 to 17 years old.
And the NSPCC hopes a number of ground-breaking schemes run from the centre will help stop the abuse.
One project, Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP), aims to protect children living with adults who are mis-using substances.
Another, Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, will work with parents to set a pattern of good parenting for life.
Assessing the Risk, Protecting the Child, is also being introduced, to protect children from sexual abuse and Letting the Future In will provide therapeutic services to help children move on with their lives after being subjected to sexual abuse.
Mrs Evans added: “Through our new innovative services we will bring help and treatment to those children most at risk and will work with our partners in Blackpool to ensure local children are given the support and protection they need.
“We’ll have a bigger staff base than ever before to target the most vulnerable people, like mums and dads on drugs.
“The new building will be so much better than what we have now.
“It will be bigger, developed to a high standard and easily accessible to families.
“The NSPCC has a long-standing history in Blackpool of dealing with children who have experienced sexual abuse.
“We are seeking to find out what approaches we can take to stop this and find out what works.”
The NSPCC is relying on a huge fund-raising drive to ensure the services are delivered to those who need them.
Janette Drew, Blackpool community fund-raising manager, said: “We’ve already got a number of events planned to support the new centre in Blackpool, including the Blackpool 10k Fun Run on May 13, a Civic Day, Glitter Ball and a concert all in May.
“Our local fund-raising committees is fully behind this new centre, and is very grateful for the continued support.”
Clare Law, NSPCC children’s service’s practitioner in Blackpool, added: “Most children have happy childhoods, full of the things which make them smile, but for others, their lives are blighted by abuse and neglect. The new services we will be delivering in Blackpool will help turn around the lives of many of the most vulnerable children.
“We can offer help and support and provide a safe and friendly environment to help children and families overcome their experiences.”
A scheme to help prevent non-accidental head injuries in babies will also be delivered in conjunction with Blackpool Victoria Hospital to educate parents about the risk of shaking their baby.
Nicola Parry, head of midwifery at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with the NSPCC on a campaign like this. It is an important project and we hope it will have a positive impact on both babies and families, particularly in the early stages of development.”
Coun Amy Cross, cabinet member for young people at Blackpool Council, added: “It’s great for Blackpool because it means we will have services complementing the council’s helping Blackpool’s young people. We are really happy there is going to be more work to help and support children and the problems they face.
“These projects are some of the main issues we are going to be focusing on in Blackpool and this will complement our services.