Tuesday October 18 2016

Blackpool charity builds community support after DIY SOS makeover

A DIY SOS makeover of a Blackpool charity is the big story - but not the only story. Jacqui Morley reports.

Blackpool charity builds community support after DIY SOS makeover

Tossed any toilet rolls lately?  

Looked up at The Big One and thought - I could climb that?

Eaten any carers' bangers - or endless cup cakes?

Donated your share dividends to a worthy cause?

Or watched young carers walking along the Prom in odd shoes and added a couple of quid to a Blackpool Carers Centre collection box because it really must be hard to walk a mile in their shoes?

Welcome to the wacky world of Cash Quest for Carers 2016.

It all started here - on these pages - three years ago. 

The three month quest begins in national carers week and ends to coincide with  Britain's Best Breakfast, another national Carers Trust campaign to raise awareness of carers of all ages. 

The quest specifically funds the appointment of Young Carers champions for Blackpool, a resort with great need of such.

This year, thanks to the £19.5k raised, £8k of it by the Sandcastle WaterPark team alone, the quest will fund TWO young carers champions in a job share.

Step foward and take a bow Tara Bragg, 22, who looks after her two sisters, and Liam Quinn, 16, who lost his mum earlier this year.

Both are already award winners.  Tara is the current 96.5 Radio Wave Carer of the Year, Liam, The Gazette's Best of Health Carer of the Year award winner. 

The fact that Eunice Nicholls,  95, won the Gazette award last year shows the sheer span of the charity's work.

It helps around 5000 carers, 500 of them young carers, in and around Blackpool. It wants to reach thousands more, the hidden carers living in plain sight.

Most don't accept they are carers. Tara didn't. It was simply something she had done since she was seven years, helping out, the role and responsibilities growing as she grew older until she felt, as she admits, she was almost 'vanishing' as an individual.

The charity saw her clearly. Now others know exactly what Tara has to offer. She is a strong and inspirational young woman, a positive role model and able to offer peer support, as charity chief executive Michelle Smith points out. Once painfully shy, Tara can face a large room  full of people and tell them precisely why they should care about carers, the unpaid, giving, labour of love carers of all ages.

And let's face it, most are already doing just that  Twenty one teams have raised more than £19,500 for Blackpool Carers Centre enabling the charity to appoint two Young Carers Champions to fight the corner for others in town.

One team has yet its announce its final sum.  

Each team, including seven from the charity itself, was challenged to turn a £50 refundable starter stake into something more substantial. And what £19.5k amounts to is a life changing investment.

And all of it raised from a standing start, boots on the ground, cakes on sale, bingo being called in community centres, quizzes at pubs, sweepstakes, raffles, ladies that lunch, others that launch from planes at 11k ft. 

 Butchers - with those carers bangers - bakers, carers that craft, trustees that take on the Welsh Three Peaks, Goalden Girls who climb to the 235 ft summit of The Big One,  body 'jammers' who work out  with celebrity skater Dan Whiston,  parent carers who organise a teddy bears picnic, schools who run sponsored skips or loo roll tossing as a summer fair sport - the list goes on.

Sandcastle WaterPark made the biggest splash for the third year running, raising £8000 through Olympic inspired challenges. Twenty six staff rode the Master Blaster indoor rollercoaster waterslide 178 times - covering 26.2 miles equivalent to the Olympic marathon course.  They also competed in a regatta, wore pyjamas to work, held late night fundraising events (and a special thank you for DIY SOS volunteers) and rode to ‘Rio’ via static cycle.

 A far from shy Coconut mascot stepped up to lift weights for the final challenge in front of fellow CQ4C guests and DIY SOS contributors – who have all helped ease the burden for young carers.  And if you want to make a coconut shy ... give it an award! 

 The award for most innovative idea went to carer Rob Frowen for a sports memorabilia auction.  With the support of Brett Ormerod and Jimmy Armfield, and some keen sports fans and fellow collectors, Rob raised £2,205 for the charity in one of the first events held at Beaverbrooks House.

A special certificate also went to a regular customer who cooked up some challenges of his own in support of Blackpool butcher Nigel Wilkinson’s team – Mr ‘Lucky’ McBride, 82.

The event gave the charity chance to show off its new HQ Beaverbrooks House on Newton Drive to guests – on condition no pictures were taken.   The BBC DIY SOS Big Build for Children in Need is provisionally scheduled for broadcast on November 17.  The charity has converted the upstairs itself – with help from volunteers and specialist help – into staff and training facilities. The entire building was left derelict by metal thieves after the NHS relocated Blenheim House children’s development services to Whitegate Drive.

Those taking part included: the adult carers’ team.  Burtons Biscuits Cookie Monsters, Claremont Community Youth Club/Crafty Carers, the carers’ centre core team, dementia project team, educational diversity team, MP Gordon Marsden’s team, carer Hazel Hall, the hospital project team, former young carers champion Lauren Codling, Nigel Wilkinson’s Quality Meats team, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, the parent carers’ team,  chairman of the charity’s trustees Paul Jebb, MP Paul Maynard’s team,  carer and sports memorabilia specialist Rob Frowen,  the student support and wellbeing team at Blackpool and The Fylde College,  carers centre’s social work students,  Tricia Ellis and Avril Garrow of the Goalden Girls,  Waterloo Primary Academy, the charity’s young carers’ team and Sandcastle Waterpark  (which also hosted a thank you event for DIY SOS tradesmen and women and families). 

Blackpool Carers Centre thank them all..

As charity chief Michelle concludes: "We couldn't do this without you. Forget the often negative national press Blackpool receives. Blackpool cares. Make no mistake about it.". 



"Forget the often negative national press Blackpool receives. Blackpool cares. "
Michelle Smith CEO Blackpool Carers Centre

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