Blackpool children's charity Aspired Futures closes after 12 years due to devastating money troubles

A children’s charity which for 12 years has looked after some of Blackpool’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable youngsters is about to close its doors forever.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 7:00 am
Aspired Futures staff raising money for the charity

Aspired Futures, which is based at The Kensington Foundation on Whitegate Drive, will shut down tomorrow following a year of devastating financial troubles.

The charity, which offers long-term support to struggling children throughout their formative years, has been funded by National Lottery grants for the past two years.

But when grant applications shut down last year due to Covid-19 trustees were unable to reapply for the £250,000 Aspired Futures needs each year to carry on.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Young people at Aspired Futures learning how to cook

Maggie Cornall, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said: “We have already been awarded two grants, and it would be highly unlikely we would ever get another one, but we were hopeful.

Unfortunately over the last 12 months grant funding has become more scarce and there’s more people chasing it.

“We were always mindful about our costs because we are such a small organisations. It has always been about quality, rather than numbers.

“We have provided help to around 200 children, working with them over a long period of time. We work one to one, trying to replicate all that a loving parent could do, and show children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds different ways of living and opportunities.

Christmas at Aspired Futures

“Over the years, Aspired Futures has grown from what was considered an amateur service into something incredibly professional. We achieved an Outstanding Ofsted rating and received more and more recognition from the Council. We worked closely with the Council on child protection.

“The stories of the children are awe-inspiring, magnificent and amazing, and that’s why the trustees have been involved for many years, some from the very beginning. It has been described to me as a beautiful organisation. There’s such an atmosphere of warmth and communication.

“It’s been an incredible journey and it’s incredibly sad to see it go.”

Aspired Futures currently has around 45 children between the ages of four and 18 on its books, and employs 10 permanent and part-time members of staff.

The Kensington Foundation where Aspired Futures is based

It is hoped that around 40 of the children will continue to receive support from a new service that is being set up at Boathouse Youth on Lytham Road, where they will be joined by three members of Aspired Futures staff.

Like Aspired Futures, the youth club provides recreational and educational activities for children - but on a much larger group scale.

Maggie said: “They saw the good work that Aspired Futures did, they recognised it and so they have agreed to set up a service which is akin to what Aspired Futures does.

“Out of these 45 children on our books, we’re hoping that 40 children will go across to Boathouse Youth. Some of the ones that won’t go across will be children from outside Blackpool, or children who would have naturally progressed to other activities anyway.

“We’re delighted that Boathouse Youth has come forward to continue the work we started, and the fact that they felt it was such a valuable service in the town is testament to that.

“It’s heartbreaking to have to see it go, and to see all that work that has taken place and members of staff who have been here for years go. But as trustees we have to make difficult business decisions.

“Covid has played its part and there are now more people looking for funding and less funding about. The fact that funding applications were closed led us into a situation where we couldn’t run on our reserves, which would have run out before any opportunities for grant funding became available.”

In a bittersweet farewell, the Board of Trustees said:

“We have been reflecting as a group on the people who have helped our children and young people achieve and go forward with life-lasting skills. All the volunteers who have freely given their time, energy and enthusiasm, we could not have delivered quality services without them. The friends, supporters, sponsors and fundraisers who have gone out of their way to make things better and easier for our children, the Kensington Foundation for their generous gift in allowing us to share their beautiful building, and the grant funders who have shared our vision and believed in us throughout our journey.

“A particular thank you is due to the current funders who are supporting us to the end to ensure the exit for our children, volunteers and staff is structured and positive.”