A carers’ centre with close links to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals has had an amazing £1 million make-over by BBC TV’s DIY SOS programme.
The Blackpool Carers’ Centre on Newton Drive now features stunning designs by Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and the refurbishment, led by presenter Nick Knowles, was broadcast on Thursday, November 17, as part of the Children in Need campaign.
The Trust’s Chief Executive (Interim), Wendy Swift and Chairman, Ian Johnson, have visited the centre and said they were deeply impressed with the transformation.
Members of staff at the Trust work closely with staff at the centre and often refer carers to the organisation. The Trust has its own carers’ policy and workers from the centre go onto hospital wards to see if they can help carers.
On the DIY SOS programme, former young carers’ champions, Amy Gunniss and Camilla Ball, now specialist support workers at the centre, were the stars of the show, representing the many young carers who live in the town.
Sisters Tyanna and Gracey Cartwright, 11 and 10, moved millions to tears as they talked about looking after mum, Suzanne Cartwright – a former nurse who lives with debilitating osteoporosis.
Their world has also been rocked by dad Shaun’s cancer. Nick was deeply moved when he asked the girls why none of their ‘three wishes’ related to themselves.
The girls said: “Other people need them more.”
Their three wishes – “for everyone who is ill to be better, mum not to be disabled and world peace” – proved to be a humbling reminder of the selflessness of young carers.
Twins Chloe and Eloise Bradley, seven, were also filmed going about their daily chores and chatting about looking after “poorly” mum Francine, who has multiple sclerosis. Francine also spoke candidly to presenter Nick about her own hopes and fears.
The carers’ centre’s chief executive, Michelle Smith, said: “The centre can now give people something they don’t necessarily have at home.
“The garden space, in particular, is very special. We will have lots of events and now that it has been launched on TV. We want many more people and groups to come and use the centre.”
Paul Jebb, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the carers’ centre, who previously worked for the Trust and has recently taken up a new post with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s fantastic. It opens up new opportunities for young carers and for Blackpool itself to use such a great resource.
“We’ve had enormous support from Beaverbrooks, the local community and people from all over the country. Everyone has wanted to make a difference to people’s lives.”
More than 4,000 people of all ages use the services of the carers’ centre and will benefit from the stunning refurbishment.
Thanks to the DIY SOS Big Build, every room is different and features bespoke furnishings designed by Laurence such as carpeting and curtains incorporating images of Blackpool Tower and wallpaper featuring the name ‘Blenheim House’ — the former name of the property.
Paul added: “We applied to the programme and they came and had a look and said ‘we will do this’.
“The property is made up of two houses knocked together and it was in a terrible state. It had been vandalised and stripped of anything of value.”
The DIY SOS team and volunteers installed a stylish kitchen where people can now prepare meals and young carers can learn to cook.
There’s a spectacular ‘common room’ with donated artworks and the ‘Yellow Room’ is a beautiful space where young people can take part in arts and crafts activities.
The refurbished toilets have a special hoist for people with disabilities and there is a stylish therapies room with fabulous décor.
A tranquil ‘Quiet Room’ has been created where carers can go for counselling sessions and to talk. The centre now has a trendy new hair and beauty room fit to rival and top salon.
Another welcome addition has been a large conference room which can be hired for events and meetings.
The building is now named ‘Beaverbrooks House’ as the jewellery firm’s charitable trust has donated it to the carers’ centre
The centre’s garden has also been beautifully redesigned featuring a summerhouse, art room, play equipment, seating areas, landscaped paths, chainsaw sculptures and a fire pit.
Young Carers’ Champion, Tara Bragg, 21, from Blackpool, said: “Young carers can be very isolated.
“They don’t always have many friends or much family to rely on.
“When they come here they get lots of support from the support workers. We have lots of activities and a youth club. They also get the one-to-one emotional support that they really need.”
Fellow Young Carers’ Champion, Liam Quinn, 16, from Blackpool, added: “We can’t believe how great the building is.
“We’re amazed and very grateful. When I was a service user, we had to use different buildings. It was really inconvenient for everyone.
“Now we are very comfortable. It’s brilliant for young carers because it is designed for them.
“It has made a massive difference.”
Anyone who feels they would benefit from the services of the Blackpool Carers’ Centre can contact the charity at Beaverbrooks House on147 Newton Drive, Blackpool, FY3 8LZ, on 01253 393 748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To see more photographs of the transformation of the centre go to: www.blackpoolcarers.org