Fleetwood was a successful busy town as a transport hub, a seaside resort and a major fishing port. It had good job opportunities from its creation in 1831 through to the 1970s but has been in decline for the past 50 years because of the loss of the commercial and industrial enterprises detailed here.
Despite the deprivation, the sense of community and mutual support the pride in the town remains very strong. Good work by many groups and organisations in Fleetwood in recent years has created a real momentum to help and support those who need it, not by doing things for people but by helping them to do things for themselves that give them a real sense of hope and purpose in their lives.
The population of Fleetwood is 26,000, the town ranks 6th out of 209 with the Pharos ward where the Fleetwood hospital building is located is within the top 10% of deprived wards in the country and forms around a quarter of the Town's inner area. It suffers from intense deprivation, 20% of children living in poverty, 36% of people with no qualifications and the lowest life expectancy of 65 to 77 as shown on the index of multiple deprivation 2019. High rates of smoking cause high rates of lung disease and cancer, drug deaths, alcohol-related harm, significant levels of mental health issues and a high suicide rate all contribute towards people in Fleetwood living shorter lives.
A significant proportion of the Fleetwood community feels they do not have a say and are not able to change the narrative around their town and their future ... it was for this reason, the individuals who formed The Fleetwood Trust came together.
The Trust aims to create a 'community hub' that can help people to see a future, share their problems with others, meet new friends, gain some confidence whilst improving their lives.
We are an inclusive organisation, working with organisations in the town involved in supporting the community it will ensure that the building is open to all. Working in partnership with the Town's churches, the NHS, Mustard Seed, Food Bank, Regenda Housing, Healthier Fleetwood, other community groups and local businesses they will have a presence in the facility and will provide a variety of services and opportunities.
The Fleetwood Trust have gone to great lengths to engage with and seek opinions from the community about what is needed most and will work best in the building, to help and support the community and create a space where people want to spend time, form relationships and receive support if needed.
Our Chair, Lord Tom McNally says ...
"In 2018 I visited Fleetwood as part of the House of Lords Committee inquiring into the problems faced by our seaside towns. For me it was a nostalgic visit. I was born in Gamble Road, Thornton and my father worked for 47 years at the ICI works. Our first holiday was to the Isle of Man on “Mona’s Isle”, I learnt to swim in Fleetwood (open-air) baths and marvelled at the raw courage of the trawlermen who braved the North Atlantic to bring home the catches which made Fleetwood one of the big three fishing ports. Although recent years have dealt a series of hammer blows to the town with the loss of deep-sea fishing and the ferry links to the Isle of Man and Ireland, the loss of the rail link and the closure of ICI, it has still found a resilience and determination which has given it the reputation as a tough little town.
My colleagues in the Lords were impressed by a particular example of that resilience in the local initiative to reclaim the part-derelict Fleetwood Hospital as a community hub, providing a range of health, social and community services. I was both delighted and honoured to be asked to chair the Fleetwood Trust set up to deliver the project. What started as an idea by local clergy, supported by some key local businesses, quickly won “Royal Approval“ when it was selected by the Prince’s Foundation as one of the projects marking the seventieth birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales. The skills and experience of The Foundation have melded with local know-how and determination to get the show on the road. In the following pages you will see the task still ahead of us. I hope what you read will encourage you to give us the financial help we need to see this amazing project through to success."