Carer scheme wins lottery

Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith
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A new project to help parents caring for children with 
special needs has been given a major Lottery boost.

Carers Trust Fylde Coast is celebrating winning £304,000 over four years from the Big Lottery Fund.

The cash will be used to offer a new frontline support service in Blackpool – after the success of a pilot project for parent carers.

Blackpool has 4,045 children registered with a range of additional needs, whose parents carry out a caring role for them.

The grant will fund a four-year Parent Carers project – called Hand in Hand.

Chief executive officer, Michelle Smith (pictured) said: “We are thrilled to have the support of the Big Lottery Fund. This grant will change lives for the better across Blackpool. It will help end the isolation felt by many parent carers.

“At present parent carers are a gap in existing provision. We will work in partnership with Highfurlong, Park and Woodlands schools along with local agencies such as Aiming Higher and Children with Disabilities Team.

“We will also support families who live outside Blackpool but who are registered with a Blackpool GP or attend a Blackpool school. Our pilot project has shown the need for a more targeted, bespoke, service.”

The charity is now recruiting additional specialist workers to support parents who look after local children with a range of additional or special needs from autism to sensory to severe physical difficulties.

The charity is 10 years old having delivered services to carers of all ages in the unitary authority of Blackpool since 2005. Demand has soared since 2008, when it had four staff, 170 registered carers, and three volunteers. Last year it had 20 staff, 3,005 registered carers and 82 volunteers. Formerly known as Blackpool Carers Centre it rebranded as Carers Trust Fylde Coast last year.

In April 2014, it became the single point of access for all local carers.

And for charity CEO Michelle, the successful bid ends a two-year fight for funding – and she is now squaring up to the next challenge, a new headquarters for the charity.