Helping spend £50m wisely

Empowering Communities (Blackpool Better Start) event at Blackpool Salvation Army Citadel.From left, Pauline Tschobotko (head of Families Division-Blackpool Teaching Hospitals), Sarah Lambert (senior manager, Early Years and Family Support-Blackpool Council), Bernadette Oxley (NSPCC Regional head of Service-North West and Cumbria), Julie Housby (Director of Kaleidoscope Co-Op Consortia) and  Lynn Donkin (Public Health Specialist (Blackpool Council).

Empowering Communities (Blackpool Better Start) event at Blackpool Salvation Army Citadel.From left, Pauline Tschobotko (head of Families Division-Blackpool Teaching Hospitals), Sarah Lambert (senior manager, Early Years and Family Support-Blackpool Council), Bernadette Oxley (NSPCC Regional head of Service-North West and Cumbria), Julie Housby (Director of Kaleidoscope Co-Op Consortia) and Lynn Donkin (Public Health Specialist (Blackpool Council).

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Have your say

A new forum has been set up to encourage parents to have their say on how they would like to see a possible £50m boost for children’s services spent.

As reported in The Gazette in August, Big Lottery cash could be made available to Blackpool to help improve services for babies and young children.

An initial grant of £400,000 has already been released to a partnership led by children’s charity the NSPCC, which is spearheading the bid, to research how the potential bonanza could be best spent.

And yesterday a consultation event (above) was held at the Salvation Army building, on Raikes Parade, in the town centre, to allow interested parents the chance to find out more about getting involved.

A forum will now be established where parents can give their views about how they would like to see the cash spent.

Among the 70 people in attendance at yesterday’s event were Louise Chennells and Simon Moore, who have welcomed the chance to get involved.

Louise, 32, from Percy Street, central Blackpool, said: “It’s interesting looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. They’re taking our input as parents, not just telling us what’s happening.

“It wasn’t a formal thing, it’s been very friendly.

“It was nice to have a mixture of people as well, so that you could listen to a mixture of views.”

Simone, 28, of Egerton Road, North Shore, added: “It’s nice because you feel you’re making a difference and getting involved in being able to do something.”

Those in attendance were asked to think about what could be done to give parents their say on the cash, leading to nine attendees signing up to join a new forum known as the community partnership board.

The partnership, known as A Better Start Blackpool, is run between the NSPCC, council, health authorities and others from the voluntary sector.

Sarah Lambert, Blackpool Council’s senior manager for early years and family support, said: “It’s basically been about trying to get parents involved in their communities and find out what services they need for their babies and young children.

“The funding is a really good opportunity but irrespective of that we’re going to be doing this kind of work anyway.”

An announcement is due next March as to which five of the final 15 bids for the Big Lottery cash have been successful.

Originally 148 bids were made for the funding.