Challenging disadvantage and improving wellbeing in Burnley

Steve Fogg, Angela Allen, Dave Edmundson, Liz Tapner and Alastair Campbell
Steve Fogg, Angela Allen, Dave Edmundson, Liz Tapner and Alastair Campbell

Former adviser to Tony Blair and prominent Clarets fan Alastair Campbell was in familiar territory when he appeared as a guest speaker at his beloved Turf Moor to mark the rebranding of the Families and Wellbeing Consortium.

The Families and Wellbeing Consortium, which is celebrating 10 years of collaborative working this month, has rebranded as Spring North as it looks forward to the next decade of operations across Lancashire.

The charitable organisation, which has just signed up its 100th member, supports partners to improve the health and wellbeing of some of Lancashire most vulnerable residents through programmes, grants and collaborative projects.

Examples include the Healthy Child Programme which provides support and signposting to relevant services tackling social isolation and other issues faced by young people, and MEAM a project that works with the most vulnerable homeless people living in HMOs or street sleeping to provide them with appropriate support.

The New Beginnings Conference saw keynote speakers including writer, communicator and mental health campaigner, Alastair Campbell, Steve Fog, chairman of the Lancashire LEP and managing director at BAE Systems and the chairman of The University of Central Lancashire, Liz Tapner of SELnet, one of Lancashire’s leading social enterprises and asylum seeker Shameem Saifi from Afghanistan who lives with her two daughters and works as a volunteer across a range of youth projects.

Austin Mortimer, who was supported by the organisation after his HIV diagnosis, also shared his story as he moved into volunteering to help others in similar circumstances as a project worker for Renaissance UK.

Mr Campbell said: “Organisations like Spring North play a huge role in helping to turn around lives and improve communities. Our support system sometimes focuses on big issues and loses sight of the very real health and social challenges people face.

"Spring North brings together investment, resources, expertise and passion to help some of Lancashire’s most vulnerable citizens, making a real difference to their lives and benefiting the wider community.”

Angela Allen, chief executive officer of Spring North said: “We started with a small group of eight local charities who were committed to collaboration and wanted to join forces to strengthen the voluntary sector offer. We have grown to more than 100 organisations, working together to challenge disadvantage and improve the wellbeing of our communities. We often work with the most vulnerable in society and provide a voice for those that don’t feel they can speak or are just not heard.

The conference was attended by more than 100 delegates and included partners, leading business figures, healthcare professionals and third sector representatives.