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Wilpshire building has been centre of help for children for 125 years
THE story of the building in Wilpshire which now houses the leading charity Child Action North West is one of continuous and caring support to the town’s most vulnerable children over a 125-year period.
The former Blackburn Orphanage on Whalley Road was founded by James Dixon, who was originally from Scotland.
Known as ‘The Blackburn Samaritan’ he was held in enormous affection by the orphans he helped and the townsfolk of Blackburn.
Dixon, who had also helped to found the Ragged School, started to raise funds to build an orphanage in 1886 and in July 1891 the opening ceremony took place, with several hundred people in attendance.
Dixon was appointed the first superintendent of the orphanage, a post he was to hold until 1933, just a couple of years before his death. The generations of children who were nurtured and cared for on Whalley Road never forgot their time there and often referred to themselves as James Dixon’s children.
The post-war era saw a transformation in how young people without parents were cared for, with fostering becoming far more prevalent and the use of the building transformed into what is now Child Action North West.
The charity focuses on recruiting loving and responsible foster parents and caters for the welfare and support of young carers. The charity’s chief executive, Sue Cotton, said: “It’s what we’ve been doing since 1886, in one form or another.
“We passionately believe that every child and young person has the right to achieve their full potential, whatever their background or circumstances.
“As a result, we work with more than 6,000 children, young people and families every year.
“We work in the heart of communities, often in partnership with other organisations, to end family cycles of deprivation, drug and alcohol abuse, lack of self-esteem, youth crime, teenage pregnancies and broken families.
“These children and young people can lead healthy and meaningful lives, with the opportunity to succeed in school, to grow up to enjoy healthy relationships.”
A sentiment founder James Dixon would surely echo.
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