The Blackburn BID (Business Improvement District) is stepping up with an innovative support package to help in the town centre on Mad Friday (19th December). This is traditionally one of the heaviest nights in the year for festive drinking in pubs and clubs.
The BID, working in partnership with Lancashire Constabulary, has supported Sgt Nick Everett of Blackburn Police Station to help an operation aimed at identifying and protecting those vulnerable people enjoying the festivities.
BID Manager, Harriet Roberts has arranged for officers to utilise an adapted mini-bus which will become a mobile police station staffed by first responders, whilst on duty officers will patrol busy areas of the town looking for people who may be vulnerable.
The BID has arranged for the police team to use a vehicle called an Ibulance which was developed as a tool by the charity, Child Action Northwest to support their work with young people in the Salford area. The high tech bus has a warm, welcoming interior and facilities that make it ideal for hand washing and providing first aid.
Sgt Nick Everett explained, ‘This is an operation aimed at ensuring those persons who find themselves in a position of vulnerability or in need of support from the Police, can be supported and given the help needed to ensure their safety is not compromised. This operation will have the added feature of potentially reducing visits to the casualty department and helping our emergency service colleagues by dealing with matters on the street.’
First responder’ first aiders will deliver an on the spot triage facility to prevent the clogging up of the A&E department and issues with anti-social behaviour that might mean that patrols would need to leave the town centre to deal with problems at the hospital.’
The project represents an innovative partnership between town centre traders, Police, the children’s charity and first responder volunteers.
This month the North West Ambulance service reported a record number of incidents since it’s the service amalgamated in 2006. Accident and Emergency departments in the region have also hit the headlines for struggling to meet waiting list targets.
Dr Georgina Robertson, Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, welcomed the Ibulance initiative from Blackburn BID but urges party-goers to take care. “We’re not in the business of spoiling anyone’s fun during the most enjoyable time of the year. However, we ask the public to be careful as we don’t want anyone’s lasting memory of the festive period to be the back of the Ibulance”.
Loraine Jones, Manager of The Mall said, ‘We recognise that, along with New Year’s Eve this is traditionally the time when our emergency services are under enormous pressure. People in our town centre can become vulnerable. Anything that keeps the police in the town centre and reduces pressure and problems at the hospital is a positive move for traders.’
Harriet Roberts of the BID said, “I’m grateful to all the partners who have moved swiftly to enable us to utilise Child Action Northwest’s Ibulance vehicle over the festive season.”
Chief Executive, Sue Cotton of Child Action Northwest explained, “People may not be aware that alongside the support we provide for families, children and young people, we are also the partnership agency that have been commissioned to deliver the Blackburn with Darwen MEAMs project dealing with homelessness in the town centre. We are interested in seeing how this operation could open up ideas for working strategically together with the Police and the BID to deal with other vulnerable groups which impact the BID’s aim to make the town centre safe and secure for visitors.”