As much as I moan and want to get out of this small seaside town, growing up here does have some perks. I have seen my fair share of weirdness living in Blackpool but I have had my eyes fully opened to this town, in my time working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Blackpool in the 20th century was a booming and immensely popular tourist destination, with people coming from all over to visit the tower, dance in the ball room and play on the beach. The world war era did not even phase this little town as even Hitler did not want to Bomb us! He wanted to keep it as a place of leisure. Businesses were doing great as it was the most affordable seaside destination for most of working Britain, even football in Blackpool was legendary. With Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen and Jimmy Armfield, Blackpool were one of the strongest teams in the country. However all good things unfortunately come to an end. Blackpool has since depleted from its glory days of been a booming ‘family weekend beach trip’ and is now mostly known for its cheap alcohol and hen or stag parties.
Today’s Blackpool doesn’t receive the best press, it has been awarded the ‘4th highest murder- rate award in 2016’ (per capita, 7.8% per 100,000), it also has the highest number of alcohol-related deaths and the second highest incidence of opiate and crack cocaine use in Britain. To the people who live outside of this small town is is easy to think of Blackpool as just a deprived area, past its prime, waiting to die. It is hard to defend sometimes, but I have put a lot of thought into the reason I believe there is still some life left in this slightly dysfunctional and grey sky covered community. I say community, because of the experience I have had working in the hospital, I have seen and spoken too the people that are not only at the rock bottom of their own lives, they do not even associate themselves within society. I am talking about the people who you walk past in the street and ignore or maybe give some change or food too. 99% of the people that fall in this bracket who I have met are some of the most interesting and experienced people I have ever spoken too, they have all faced horrifically difficult times in their lives, things other people could not even imagine, they have all being hurt and are hurting themselves. They do not want to be excluded from society, they simply have no confidence in the system or people to believe in them. A candle without a flame is not moving, not giving off heat or light, its nothing, it is only when a match or lighter, gives it a helping hand, helps it start to burn and give off a flickering light. My point is, these people on the street are candles with no flame. It is only when we help them on there feet, talk to them and rebuild there confidence in us as a society, do we give them a flame and the confidence to help themselves and become a part of the society and are no longer excluded. It is a touchy subject for some people, as you may think ‘they only have themselves to blame’ or ‘it was there choice’, which frankly I find very narrow minded. I believe that people do not wake up in the morning and just decide to take heroin or decide to sleep in the doorway of Costa in the centre of a windy, freezing cold and wet town. I think before judging people and before judging Blackpool, you need to look at the bigger picture.
- Minimum wage does not = living wage
- Lack of funding for health/ rehabilitation/ mental health services
- social services
These are a few issues that effect Blackpool, on top of a struggling local economy, with shops regularly closing down and local people going out of work. The construction of the m55 opened the doors to Blackpool, however it closed the doors for hotels and a weekend holiday, as it could be visited for a day- trip, which in turn took a huge chunk out of the local economy. Blackpool’s adaptations to its economic change has aimed towards nightlife, with clubs open till 6am, cheap booze and a world of vice (mainly Cookson street, if you know). Evolution is good for growth but in Blackpool’s case, the mixture of job loss, health problems, cheap alcohol and vice has churned out a town that is used and abused, left to rot with the surrounding country just watching on, turning their head the other way.
My anger and hatred for this town does not come from the people who live here, as I have met some of the best, inspirational, beautiful and caring people in this town, even people who have less than nothing are willing to give something. It comes from this towns lack of support and the tourists who don’t come to explore this iconic town, with a rich history, but those who come here to exploit it, fighting, dealing and causing mindless destruction to this already fragile town.
I really think that Blackpool can turn it around and return to its old ways of being known as a nice and family friendly place to visit. I believe that if we as a town tried to become one society and too include the socially excluded, even just by talking, the confidence within Blackpool’s society can be restored to its former glory, and the town can begin to grow again and not be known for its vices and crime, but to be known for its community, resilience and compassion towards one another. I don’t hate Blackpool, it just saddens me that the town where I have grown up and known all my life is struggling so much, and receives such criticism and prejudice from the rest of the country.
Blackpool is not dead… not yet anyway.