St. Antony's Centre has a long history of working in a number of communities where we could make an impact. Even during the restrictions and challenges presented we have continued to support those communities from our base in Manchester in areas such as Accrington, Runcorn, Belfast, Oldham and Liverpool, to name but a few, by extending our services wherever they have been required.
Blackpool has been an area St. Antony's Centre has already injected resources in recent years, particularly with training and Welfare Rights Support. This year we have continued to support the community and have played a significant role in securing some new facilities in the Waterloo area of the town.
The new Centre sits in one of the most deprived wards in the country and the premises were formerly a money lenders and gold store. ACT Centre Blackpool is a partnership with other local charities and community organisations including Blackpool Centre for the Unemployed (BCFU), Counselling in the Community and ACT Community Partnership to help deliver services in the areas of Advice, Counselling and Training. This is a new model of working for the Centre to maximise the benefits for the community we serve.
There has been an increasing need for fit for purpose facilities in the area so in response the first floor of the building has now been completed and includes 3 consultation rooms, a large training room and office space. Drawings have been submitted to Blackpool Council Planning Department to further extend the facilities on the ground floor for which we are waiting a decision to be made.
Since the first floor facilities opened in the middle of the year over 240 people have accessed the services and received help through the different organisations. Local trade's people, community groups, charities and local businesses have all been instrumental in helping establish the Centre. This new concept has been warmly welcomed not only by third sector organisations but also NHS teams and front line workers in the town who are also wanting to explore partnership working with us.
While there is still much to do the new Centre will provide great facilities to deliver much needed services to the Fylde community and an opportunity for St. Antony's to further develop new areas of work and models of good practice and sharing to maximise the impact for people and the wider community.
The Centre Trustees visited the facilities in September to see first-hand the new site and to review progress to date.