LOOKING OUT FOR WOMEN

The first anniversary of Blackpool Women's Centre, Edward St, Blackpool.
The first anniversary of Blackpool Women's Centre, Edward St, Blackpool.
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A VITAL resource for women in Blackpool is celebrating its first anniversary.

Blackpool Women’s Centre, based in Edward Street, has now helped 592 women since it officially opened its doors a year ago.

And after so much success – including reducing re-offending rates by women and family break-ups – bosses hope to expand to Wyre and set up a similar centre in Fleetwood in early 2012.

The one-stop shop is run by a team of women – some volunteers – and provides services to help with parenting, debt, employment, abuse, health and offending and accommodation.

The centre held an open day to mark the anniversary and invite local people in to see the work done.

MP for Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden attended.

Charley Wilkinson, centre co-ordinator, said: “The past year has completely exceeded our expectations.

“We knew there was a need for this service in Blackpool, but we didn’t anticipate quite how much demand there would be.

“It’s been fantastic, especially when you think about how many women we have been able to help.

“The feedback we have had from women and the agencies has been so positive.”

“It’s a real privilege for us to work with these women and see the changes we have helped them make.

“The statistics are showing re-offending and family break-ups have gone down in the Blackpool area, so the centre is not only helping to make a difference to the women themselves, it’s also helping society overall.

“We’re just looking forward to the future now. It’s onwards and upwards and we hope to expand the service to Wyre, by setting up in Fleetwood.”

Women are referred from a number of agencies, including the Probation Service, ADS, mental health services and sometimes women self-refer.

The centre aims to give easy access to services such as probation, Drugline, Shiver, sexual health and counselling.

It has interview rooms – for one-to-one support and counselling, a lounge for group sessions and relaxing, an IT suite, kitchen and reception area.

The centre also run 14 courses, including literacy, numeracy, IT, assertiveness, life skills and confidence building.