This is the week that Strictly Come Dancing bigs up Blackpool. They all build up Blackpool and the Tower Ballroom and there is tremendous excitement.
I had some clinics in the substance misuse services Blackpool today and I was hoping to take a stroll at lunch, perhaps enjoy a coffee in the Winter Gardens, and soak it all up. (The BBC has invaded the Ballroom itself this week so chance of that.) Sadly, the day was breathlessly busy. First thing in the morning, we had a long meeting to decide on who would go forward for detoxification. I’ll write in the future on the contortions we have to do and the financial imperatives. There was then a stream of fairly complex clients, including some home visits to the housebound and the seriously ill.
But I wanted to avoid despair. Blackpool does deserve some optimism. And it deserves a bit of love. There is a risk, perhaps only in medical circles or those concerned with inequalities, that Blackpool is becoming a byword for deprivation. There is a litany of markers of a deeply damaged society: sky high levels of obesity; devastating numbers of drug-related deaths; alcohol and drugs like Spice tearing out its soul. But, of course, like almost any community there is a pride, a sense of ownership, and perhaps they are all the more fiercely loyal to Blackpool because of the adversity that can also be found here.
The cases with which we work involve multiple physical health problems, intractable and enduring mental health disorders, and social circumstances which are nothing short of harrowing. We have to shout about them in order to get them attention, to get them some help. God knows no one else is going to do it. And I will continue to shout about it. Quite probably I will use Blackpool as an example but I don’t want to drag it down. So I just wanted to be a little positive in this week in November when millions of people turn to it, watch some light entertainment on the TV, and smile a little.