According to a recent UK report, significant work is needed to address the disproportionately high concentrations of chronic disease, mental illness and poor life expectancy in some of England’s most popular holiday destinations, including Blackpool. The same report also showed how the predominantly older populations found in coastal towns, coupled with sub-par and hard-to-access health services, high levels of poverty, deprivation and poor housing had helped create a distinctive negative “coastal effect” on population health.
This context, along with the effects of the pandemic, is what led to Blackpool FC Community Trust (BFCCT) establishing a new pilot area of work in 2020, POOL Together, specifically linked to supporting people who are isolated, lonely, or experiencing poor mental health. The impact of the referral programme has exceeded all pre levels of expectation.
Towards the end of the 2021 though, despite the obvious impact that the programme was having, the future was under threat due to funding as it was initially, in response to the obvious need generated by the effects of the COVID pandemic.
Jason White, Head of Community Programmes at BFCCT, explained:
“Through the work we deliver in the community, we had a strong inkling at the outset that the programme would produce clear evidence for continuation. But even with this experience and knowledge, we were surprised by the level of demand, and need, for this service. Some of the examples we have encountered has been heartbreaking. We are absolutely delighted therefore that Barclays have stepped in with a significant grant to enable us to grow this into a sustained programme and continue supporting people in Blackpool at this really difficult period.”
To meet the needs of communities as they emerge from the pandemic, Barclays is supporting Blackpool FC Community Trust with a £100,000 donation through its 100×100 Programme, as part of its wider £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package.
Lindsay McAlice-Kennedy, Market Director for Barclays commented:
“With the long-term impacts of the pandemic still being felt, I’m proud that Barclays continues to play a positive role in our society. By working with charities like Blackpool FC Community Trust, much-needed support will reach the many people in the area still dealing with mental health issues, isolation and loneliness and we are immensely grateful for their work in our communities. We hope that by partnering with incredible local charities like Blackpool FC Community Trust, we can continue to help people in need as they emerge from the crisis.”
Since POOL Together began in July 2020, the programme has engaged over 1000 different people, and the intention is that this will double by the end of 2022.