Blackburn with Darwen Council, the Community Voluntary Service and the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA), have collectively secured up to £450,000 Funding as part of the Inspiring Communities Grant Programme.


Darwen was rigorously selected from 64 eligible local authority areas to participate in the joint initiative run by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Cabinet Office. The news was welcomed by all parties, who worked hard to deliver an innovative and engaging bid that evidenced the benefits such funding could bring to the young people of Darwen.


The Inspiring Communities project in Darwen will be spearheaded by DACA and the Campaign Leader is Academy Principal, Brendan Loughran. DACA is one of only a handful of Academies to have secured the funding, demonstrating that Academies can integrate into and contribute to the future well-being of local communities.


The Darwen bid, which also involved a youth consultation exercise, was presented to the Darwen and Rural Area Neighbourhood Board by DACA’s Principal and Vice Principal of Entrepreneurship. Each bid had to meet strict criteria and the Secretary of State for Communities John Denham, who reviewed the Blackburn with Darwen bid was particularly impressed with its strong enterprise focus which was bolstered by the Academy’s entrepreneurship specialism.


Other local organisations will also be getting involved as the project evolves over the coming months.


Nationally, 15 neighbourhood partnerships – consisting of a local authority, a secondary school and a third sector organisation – will each benefit from £450,000 core funding which will be awarded over the next two years. This announcement comes as Alan Milburn’s report, released on 21st July, calls for action to enable everybody, whatever their background, to fulfill their talent and potential.

Inspiring Communities follows on from a government study into aspirations and attainment in deprived communities which showed that while parents are the most important influence on young people, the people and places where they live also affect their aspirations.  It asks schools, local agencies, community organisations, businesses, parents and the wider community to work together to get behind local young people and support them to fulfill their educational potential.


Focused primarily on improving outcomes for 11 to 14 year olds, the national programme is aimed at neighbourhoods where low aspirations have been identified as a barrier to young people achieving their potential. It will work specifically with young people, their parents and communities to create new opportunities, raise aspirations and educational development, as well build the self-confidence of local people.


Commenting on the news, Brendan Loughran says: “This funding will open so many new doors for the young people of Darwen and everyone involved is delighted to be a part of such an innovative scheme.  It will grant individuals access to resources that would otherwise not be available, and we relish the challenges ahead and look forward to seeing our ideas come to fruition in the local area.”


Mike Lee, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, adds: "This is a fantastic achievement and the vast number of activities included in the programme will make a huge difference to the lives of our young people. Many suffer from low aspiration and are not achieving their true potential. The programme will help them unlock their talents so they can overcome any barrier put before them. It is also about raising the aspirations of the parents who may not have been given such opportunities so they encourage and support their children to make the most of the opportunities which will now come their way."


Rod Aldridge, Chair of the Aldridge Foundation and DACA sponsor, says: “It has been our ambition to see the Academy working in partnership with local people, voluntary organisations and the local authority to raise the aspirations and abilities of young people and the community.


“This funding will enhance the Academy’s ability to reach out beyond the classroom, draw in local people and community groups and instil an entrepreneurial mindset to inspire and regenerate the whole community.”