CEO: More back to work

As schools begin to reopen in Blackpool, we have offered our support for staff to attend and provide some help with their delivery.

Some of our PL Primary Stars team have stepped up to visit some of our local primary schools and restart our delivery of PE and Physical activity for the children now attending their schools again.

It’s a shame some schools have requested we delay attending their establishments, whilst they continue to work through their own safety procedures and risk assessments, which I must admit, from doing these myself for our charity and our facilities, are extremely difficult to put together and rely on staff to follow with common sense.

We will also be re-establishing our Unstoppable programme, our mental health programme, for year 6 pupils to address an number of key issues including; transition to secondary school, relationships at home and in the community and association with gangs and knife crime. The programme was kindly funded this season by BFC owner Simon Sadler and his company Segantii Capital Management and becomes even more important in the current and future climate.

We will deliver the project to some schools virtually, so there will be no need to visit the establishments (at the schools wishes), but delivery with the Dan Freedman book will attempt to look as similar as possible as being in the classroom.

The members of our team returning to support schools will also start to develop new digital content to help our usual participants still at home and we will share information as soon as we can.

In the coming weeks we will also start to reintroduce some of our outreach activities and are working really closely with Blackpool Council and Revoelution to support with delivering some online and on the street detached work with young people and will begin building information on where young people are gathering and what type of provision they would engage in, so that we can develop them to be safe and within government guidance under the umbrella of PL Kicks.

We will also now be able to finally launch our new youth work project Tower Above, which was set to start in March, which works closely with a number of local organisations and our local Families In Need service, to identify young people that need some 1-to-1 help before they engage in negative and unlawful behaviour, so that we could put them on a positive pathway.

We already have a number of referrals, ready to be worked with and now seems the most appropriate and safe opportunity to get the team out and working with these young people.

Over the past week, I have been working with our management team to develop a strategy and now the operation plans for our charity to Build Back Better and we collaboratively believe now is the time to not take the easy option and keep all staff on furlough and start to bring back even more of our team to help our community in a time that it is needed more than ever.

This is a really tough thing to balance, as we have seen significant financial loses in this period, worth more than £370,000, so balancing doing the right thing and maintain a level of financial security is crucial.

Our mission is to develop diverse community programmes and partnerships, to give the best opportunities to the people of Blackpool and our vision is to build a healthier, active and more work ready community, so there is no better time than now for us to stand up and provide our support, where we can.

We hope to continue to build on this start and continue to implement more of our existing provisions as soon as possible and also to investigate new ways we can help our local residents.

As part of this new strategy development, one thing that became apparent is that 77% of our workforce come from or live in the local area. I believe this is integral to having a charity that is focused on Blackpool and the more born and bred employees we have builds a greater desire and drive to help.

As part of this step towards our new normality, this week we reintroduced some staff back into our office, which has been refocused and made appropriate for a significantly less amount of the team to attend at the same time. Our reasoning for doing this now is to build on the collaborative work the team would do in a usual environment and start to work collectively to redevelop and refocus the organisation. This has proven a great and safe success this week, with new and revised ideas already flying around the room. Staff returning to the office space have this week been surveyed and asked if they now felt comfortable to come back to work, which 100% responded yes and 100% felt the facilities had been amended appropriately to remain safe and happy to enter the building. 100% felt they were now able to collaborate better with colleagues to plan for the future and 80% agreed it had improved their own personal mental health, the other 20% felt their mental health hadn’t suffered.