“Unemployment not a lifestyle choice” say Blackpool youth

Blackpool charitable partnership awarded £400K of National Lottery funding to help local young people into jobs or training.

Blackpool FC Community Trust is celebrating with partners after being awarded £400,000 in National Lottery funding to help unemployed 18 to 25-year-olds in Blackpool to secure education, training or employment opportunities.

The partnership including   will use the money to expand on their successful work with young people in Claremont to three other inner Blackpool wards – Bloomfield, Talbot and Brunswick. The programme of support will also continue in Claremont.

The partnership supports young people aged 18 to 25, classed as ‘economically inactive’, to move toward work, education or training. To date they have reached 278 young people.

The varied support on offer through the partnership includes access to health & fitness services, referrals into college, help to find better accommodation, mental health support and suicide  prevention.

Claremont was chosen because The Rank Foundation’s research had revealed there were over 400 unemployed young people concentrated in just 10 streets between Westminster Road and Dickson Road.

Historically there has been a disconnect between what young people say they want and the predefined solutions on offer from local agencies. The partnership bucked that trend by working to understand what was preventing them accessing employment, education or training and asking them what solutions they would like to see.

The partnership established trust by sending workers out on the streets of Claremont to meet and talk with local young people in their neighbourhood.

For the majority of young people, unemployment was not a ‘lifestyle choice’. Most did want to work but they told workers they faced issues such as anxiety, unsuitable housing and a lack of basic skills such as English and maths.

One young person said:

“The support and guidance has made a great difference to my overall mental health as it’s not been easy to motivate myself and I’ve really struggled with anxiety. The Engage4Change team have been consistent, regular and non-judgmental and have supported me with getting my own flat as well as becoming more physically fit with boxing. The walk & talk sessions have allowed me to talk openly about many issues, which has helped to reduce my stress, worry and anxiety. With their support, I’m looking at returning to education or finding a job.”

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see this work continue in Claremont and expand into Bloomfield, Talbot and Brunswick; areas that face similar youth unemployment issues.

Dame Julia Cleverdon, Chair of the Pride of Place – Claremont Steering Group Board says:

“The Claremont team sponsored by Rank Foundation who have led the collaborative work with partners to support young 18 to 24 year old unemployed people in this ward are so delighted that our lessons learnt can now be shared and implemented across three more wards in Blackpool- We are turning the Tide in this coastal community!”

Matt Hilton, Deputy CEO at Blackpool FC Community Trust says:

Building upon the learning over the last 18 months, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Rank Foundation and partners to extend our reach and further amplify the positive change we can collectively bring to the community.”