Look at it this way - March 29, 2014

Charlie Sherrington
Charlie Sherrington
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All you need is love. Ask Charlie Sherrington, 70. He’s the carer pictured peeping through the LOVE shelf unit he’s hand crafted, with care, at Blackpool Carers’ wood hub at Back Reads Avenue, in the heart of Blackpool.

In some respects it IS the heart of Blackpool.

Charlie’s a Geppetto for our times, the master craftsman who created Pinocchio from wood.

Charlie takes unwanted pallets donated by big-hearted local companies such as Laila’s Fine Foods, and crafts them into functional items, keepsakes, gifts and plaques.

But what really brings that wood to life is Charlie’s wife Jean, who in spite of having had a stroke, illustrates each piece with intricate birds, hearts, flowers, inspirational messages, motifs – all of which will help make them sell at Blackpool Carers Centre charity shops at Cleveleys, Bispham and Blackpool, with Mother’s Day coming up.

Each carries the tag “crafted with care by carer Charlie and wife Jean”.

Proceeds will help other carers, not financially, but in support for carer projects at the Vic, or outings for carers who seldom get out, sitting services, dementia support, even frontline work to help carers as young as six or seven help mum or dad at home, or brothers and sisters, way beyond the usual expectations.

This is not about keeping their bedroom tidy, but helping keep loved one’s lives in order. It’s a tall order.

Carers save the state a fortune in health, welfare and care costs.

Yet news broke this week that most of us hear the term carer and think of paid domiciliary workers. Most of our local carers are unpaid, and few qualify for the pittance that is carers’ allowance.

I’ve wanted to highlight carers since meeting a seven year old boy in Fleetwood who lost his childhood bathing, clothing, cooking, feeding and caring for his mum until her death.

I don’t intend to turn this column into shameless self-promotion of my interests beyond the paper, but some stories I still burn to tell because once a journalist, always a journalist.

Charity starts at home. But do we know what goes on beyond closed doors, the kids mothering their mothers, the pensioners coping with partners who no longer recognise them.

In Blackpool, with high social deprivation and public health ails, there are countless carers.

Blackpool Carers’ Centre needs to reach each of them. They may be able to help.

So when you buy brickie-turned-joiner Charlie’s creations you’re buying hope, support for others.

Charlie supports Jean, but together they cared for 46-year-old daughter Paula, a mother of three, until she died last year.

She had a stroke too, fought to return to health, couldn’t quite make it.

They were there for her, Blackpool Carers is here for them.

Today they most remember Paula’s laughter, for she never forgot to laugh. Some do.

Laughter and love is etched in the very grain of those woodworks crafted by the carers, by apprentice Jonjo, joiner Mark, and others on placement – as the wood 
hub recycles lives as well as wood.

Carers’ retail manager Fiona Roberts concludes: “It’s a place where carers can get lost in their own space.”

Skeletons jump from my closet

I am going through the process of DBS – what used to be known as CRB clearance until the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority merged to become the Disclosure and Barring Service.

I’m frankly surprised it’s taken this long for anyone to ask if I’ve got it… it should be a given in any line of work which involves regular contact with children or vulnerable people.

I’m an old Leftie at heart, and did my share of signing up in student days for the Anti-Nazi League and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I drew the line at the National Council for Civil Liberties, which is probably as well, as it unwittingly granted affiliate status to the vile and now defunct Paedophile Information Exchange.

But two dark secrets may emerge from my past – I skip dipped the last time The Gazette moved base from Preston New Road, salvaging several photographs which I sneaked back into our archives. My own version of the almost lost archives.

And the first time my name was in print was in this paper in the 70s under the heading TV Licence Dodgers Fined – after I’d moved into a flat at St Annes and assumed the telly was covered by the landlady’s licence.

Having been shamed and suffered the taunts of colleagues let’s hear it for the campaign to decriminalise TV licence fee “evasion.”