Published Thursday 6 December 2018 at 17:02
Exciting plans to boost the borough’s economic prosperity and build stronger, more integrated communities have been launched.
Our Community, Our Future is the name of the Social Integration Strategy produced by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, its partners and the Local Integration Partnership.
The strategy sets out how money awarded to the borough through the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government’s Integrated Communities programme will be put to good use. It was launched at a special event in Blackburn Museum on Thursday 6 December, attended by the government’s Faith Minster, Lord Bourne.
Also in attendance were members of the Local Integration Partnership (LIP). This group brings together representatives of the borough’s businesses, schools and colleges, health organisations, the voluntary, community and faith sector, Youth MPs and Sport England, as well as key councillors. The Department for Work & Pensions is a key partner in Blackburn with Darwen’s social integration programme, and is also represented on the LIP.
Harry Catherall, Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:
“Blackburn with Darwen was chosen as one of five national Integration Partnership Areas because the government recognised the borough’s fantastic track record of delivery on community cohesion and integration, as well as our willingness to try new approaches. We are delighted to have been working with MHCLG since March to pull together a comprehensive strategy with some innovative thinking, particularly around transport as a barrier to integration and working with the borough’s employers to ensure the workplace offers people a chance to connect with others from backgrounds different to their own.
“Our priorities capture so succinctly what this agenda is about: breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for all sections of the community, to achieve our vision of a borough where everyone is treated fairly and everyone feels that they belong here.”
The four priorities in Blackburn with Darwen’s Our Community, Our Future strategy are:
- To increase economic prosperity for all the borough’s communities as an essential prerequisite for social integration
- To strengthen relationships between the borough’s diverse communities (focussed predominantly on adults)
- To build connections and strengthen relationships between young people who live in the borough’s diverse communities
- To connect the borough’s disadvantaged communities to shared spaces – linking people and neighbourhoods to zones of employment, physical assets, community shared spaces and social action.
These four priorities were identified through a series of consultation events and workshops with a wide range of local groups and organisations from across the borough, and approved by members of the Local Integration Partnership.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, who is Chair of the Local Integration Partnership (LIP), commented:
“The Borough Council is committed to improving social integration and recognises that this is something that we cannot do in isolation. Joined-up working with key partners and stakeholders is vital to achieve our goals under the Our Community, Our Future strategy, and the role of the Local Integration Partnership is to oversee Blackburn with Darwen’s programme to ensure our ambitions are realised for the benefit of everyone in the borough.”
A key partner on the borough’s social integration work is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Blackburn with Darwen. Their work, which will complement the Our Community, Our Future plan, will focus on improving individuals’ employability as a means to helping them integrate into their local communities.
As part of the Our Community, Our Future launch, Lord Bourne took part in a round table discussion at Jobcentre Plus in Blackburn with representatives of a number of projects that aim to advance this agenda.
Carla Passarello, DWP Service Leader for Cumbria & Lancashire, explained:
“DWP is leading a wide variety of projects that aim to help those furthest from the labour market to prepare for world of work, looking at individuals’ barriers and how we can help them to take steps towards full employment. At the round table, Lord Bourne heard about work we are doing with the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust to boost recruitment from the local population, as well as an innovative approach to helping former drug and alcohol users to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem with our work coaches. He also heard about our job club with a local refugee and asylum seeker support group, and our outreach work in Darwen Health Centre.”
Also as part of the launch of Our Community, Our Future, Lord Bourne visited St Edward’s RC Primary School in Darwen as they hosted a visit from Cedars Primary School in Blackburn. The two schools have recently been twinned through Blackburn with Darwen’s Schools Linking programme, which puts schools from different areas of the borough in touch for valuable learning opportunities.
Together pupils from the two schools performed the song One Little Voice, with a message of unity and hope for future generations.
Later in the day Lord Bourne also met with representatives from Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum to discuss the ongoing work to bring people from different faith and culture backgrounds together across the borough. An informal discussion hosted by Canon Rowena Pailing in Blackburn Cathedral Crypt highlighted the support offered to lonely and vulnerable people through interfaith networks during the winter months and festive season.
Lord Bourne commented:
“The Integration Area Programme focusses local and national resource on a common goal, to deliver integrated communities and to better understand and tackle the challenges specific to an area.
“We were delighted that Blackburn with Darwen agreed to participate in this programme. The local authority and its partners in the area have a clear understanding of the challenges they face and the strengths on which they can build, and have shown their desire to be bold and innovative to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
“We welcome the publication of Blackburn with Darwen’s Local Integration Strategy, and look forward to learning from the delivery of its ambitious long term vision for the communities of Blackburn with Darwen which sits at the heart of this strategy.”
Watch our video summary of of the borough’s Social Integration strategy Our Community, Our Future.
Click the link below to download the Our Community, Our Future strategy document.Blackburn with Darwen Integration Area Strategy - Final