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£5 Million Funding Awarded for Health Inequalities in Blackpool

Written by on 11/10/2022

Blackpool has been awarded £5million of funding for a health inequalities research project from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Blackpool has c.140,000 proud residents and is known for many fabulous things such as its beautiful beaches and the world-famous illuminations. Sadly, despite the hardwork of many partners across the town, Blackpool still has poor life expectancy and health inequalities.

The funding being announced today will help to find out exactly why health inequalities exist and how we transform our services and systems to work better for our local communities.

What makes this research project different is that the day to day experiences of Blackpool residents will inform how council and health services are designed and delivered with the aim of ultimately improving people’s health.

The Blackpool community will be at the heart of this project. As co-researchers they will ensure that people’s lived experience of facing health inequalities in the town are understood. They will be part of finding solutions that will make a real difference to people’s lives.  By sharing this research with others, it will inform how money is spent and how services are delivered to best support people with their health across the town.

There will be close collaboration on this project with the community and other partners such as Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, the voluntary sector and research specialists Lancaster University.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network: North West Coast have supported the bid and will continue to support the research project going forward.

The four priority areas are:

–          the first 3 years of life;

–          housing;

–          education, employment and skills;

–          mental health.

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council said:

“We are delighted we have been awarded this money which will fund key research projects that will essentially look at health inequalities in Blackpool and how best to tackle them.

“Blackpool is known for many fabulous things; its entrepreneurial spirit, its creativity, its world- famous illuminations and its beautiful beaches to name but a few. However, sadly, it is also known for having poor life expectancy and health inequalities and we want to change that.

“This project will give us a unique opportunity to truly collaborate with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Lancaster University, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, voluntary organisations and the people of Blackpool to identify the key health issues in Blackpool and use that research to inform policy and services that will support our communities in the best way possible”.

Professor Enitan Carrol, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network: North West Coast  commented: 

“We are delighted to learn of the success of our colleagues at Blackpool Council in the Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) funding call. The Blackpool HDRC will serve as a blueprint for co-production with local authorities to create a fairer community for everyone. The vision is that Blackpool will become nationally and internationally recognised as a centre of co-produced research across local government and the academic sector, to support evidence-based community regeneration, using a systems approach. This funding will act as a catalyst for research to help tackle health inequalities in the town, region and beyond. Congratulations to everyone involved in this significant achievement, it is wonderful news for Blackpool, and the town’s local communities.”

Conal Land, Community Co-researcher said: 

“Hearing that Blackpool has been successful in its bid for the HDRC funding is extremely exciting. It means that young people in the town will have the resource required to undertake research and advocate on behalf of their peers and community. It means that we can continue to co-produce research, alongside members of the community which have been underserved by research before, to ensure that no one feels left behind. Such opportunities are vital in order to make real lasting change and to give people in our town a voice. We cannot wait to get started.”

Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone, Executive Dean of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University, said:

“We very much look forward to collaborating with our Blackpool partners on this important regional initiative.

“By working in partnership with our communities to find and use research about health determinants we will accelerate the improvement of outcomes for people in the area.”

The project will ensure that it shares it’s work across the town, and specifically hold annual learning events to enable a wide range of people to be part of its ongoing development.