THE Lancashire Telegraph and Blackburn with Darwen Council today join forces to find the borough’s best neighbours.
And the awards scheme was given a massive pat on the back by Prime Minister David Cameron who said: “It’s great to see the Your Call and Good Neighbours campaign recognising those who are working to make their streets a better place.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband also praised the campaign and awards. Britain’s top politicians spoke as local religious leaders and business leaders supported the quest to find and recognise the kind and unsung heroes whose actions bind our community together.
Bishop John Goddard and Salim Mullah endorsed the Good Neighbours Awards, joining Blackburn Rovers’ bosses, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms and Capita boss Ian Richardson.
Local MPs and political leaders put aside party rivalries to support a bid to find and reward the best in the borough who make a real difference to the lives of people in their streets.
The Your Call Good Neighbours Awards will pay tribute to helpful neighbours, unsung heroes who have never been recognised before for their efforts to make other people’s lives better.
Fantastic prizes for five winners include a Wimbledon tennis holiday, a spa weekend break at the Stanley House Hotel in Mellor and being Blackburn Rovers’ guest at an Ewood Park game.
Some nominations are already coming in, including for a 70 year old who came out of night to help a neighbour whose gate had collapsed and a boy who always clears the paths on his street when the snow falls.
Blackburn with Darwen council leader Kate Hollern said: “These awards will recognise people who give their time to the community and expect nothing in return. They are the people who keep the community together.”
Rovers director Paul Agnew said: “Within the community are many good neighbours who go out of their way to help and assist other people and it is most pleasing to see them recognised through this excellent award.”
Ian Richardson, Regional Director of major local employer Capita said: “Capita are delighted to support and contribute a prize to this great award.”
Acting Bishop of Blackburn John Goddard said: “Jesus said “You should love your neighbour as yourself’.”
Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mullah said: “We all have a responsibility of looking after our neighbour and our neighbourhood.”
Blackburn Labour MP Jack Straw and his Tory Darwen Parliamentary colleague Jake Berry both back the campaign.
Lancashire Telegraph editor Kevin Young said: “We are searching for the pioneering and kind community sprit that made Blackburn and Darwen the great towns they are.
“We at the Lancashire Telegraph are delighted to be able to help identify and reward those bring that spirit to the borough today.”
The awards are also enthusiastically supported by Mike Lee, leader of the Tory opposition in the borough and council Liberal Democrat leader David Foster as well as Mayor of Darwen Eileen Entwistle.
All people put forward must live in Blackburn with Darwen. The closing date for nominations is Monday April 8.
To nominate someone, fill out Blackburn with Darwen Council's online nomination form or download, complete and return a nomination form.
POLITICAL BIG GUNS BACK OUR CAMPAIGN
DAVID Cameron has praised the good neighbours who make an essential difference to the quality of life of people in Blackburn with Darwen.
Backing the awards campaign by the Lancashire Telegraph and Blackburn with Darwen Council, the Prime Minister said: “Making a difference in your community, no matter how small it is, is what the Big Society is about. It’s great to see the Your Call/Good Neighbours campaign recognising those who are working to make their streets a better place.
“Helping our neighbours, and those around us, is an important part of building a stronger society. Everyone who is nominated for an award should be proud of the difference they are making.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “This is a great campaign and awards scheme.
“It is inspiring to see Labour-run Blackburn with Darwen Council initiate a scheme that motivates, and encourages, people to contribute to their community. This is One Nation Labour – on the side of hard-working people.”
Blackburn with Darwen Tory leader Mike Lee said: “Anything that encourages communities into action is a great idea. This is going back to the old-style neighbourhood spirit of the borough. This is a good example of the Big Society in action – residents stepping forward when they are needed, and the council recognising them.”
Lib Dem group leader David Foster said: “We are all about enabling communities and people to help themselves. It is good to see the council recognising those good neighbours who help others. We are all in favour of groups and people in the community working together to support each other.”
Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “We all know stories of fantastic acts of kindness by neighbours and friends across Blackburn with Darwen. I’m delighted these unsung heroes finally getting recognition.”
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms said: “It’s an excellent idea on several levels, including improving the image of the area, which is good for the self-confidence of the residents, but also makes the place more appealing for visitors and investors.
“This is a way of hearing about good things. The spirit of these people is similar to the enterprising spirit in East Lancs.”