Contact centre renamed after Dispatch district ‘champion’ of children

A Nottingham contact centre was today renamed ‘Helen’s Place’ in recognition of a senior officer at the City Council who died last year from Covid.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 1:34 pm

Helen Blackman, from Bulwell, who was the authority’s director of children’s integrated services, had been a strong advocate of the Garden Street facility in Radford.

She died in March 2021.

The centre, which supports local families, underwent a recent renovation which Ms Blackman had been instrumental in bringing about before she fell ill.

Helen Blackman was described as a champion of children

At a small ceremony involving her family, it was formally renamed in her memory by Bulwell Forest councillor Cheryl Barnard, portfolio holder for children and young people.

Ms Blackman was determined that the contact centre would always be a welcoming and friendly place for children and young people to enjoy time with their families.

Coun Barnard (Lab) said: “Helen cared passionately about the experiences of our children in care.

"She dedicated her career and her energies to improving outcomes for young people in Nottingham.

Coun Cheryl Barnard unveiling the sign at the newly renamed centre

"Helen was a brilliant champion of children and a strong role model for her colleagues.

“It is really important to us that her legacy lives on and we felt there was no better way to do this than naming the contact service after her.

"This is a fitting tribute to Helen as she was instrumental in driving forward the renovations which have taken place over the past few years.”

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The centre has now been renamed Helen's Place

Coun David Mellen (Lab), council leader, worked closely with Ms Blackman during his years as portfolio holder for children and young people.

He said: “Helen was clearly born to work with children.

"She had a natural warmth and empathy which shone through in her tireless efforts, and nothing was more important to her than the welfare and life chances of young people in Nottingham.

“Naming in her memory a contact centre so close to her heart, and one which she worked hard to refurbish, is a fitting tribute to all that she did for children’s services in the city.”

A special plaque was also unveiled marking the centre being renamed in Helen's memory

Ms Blackman, 54, first qualified as a social worker in 1989.

She studied at Nottingham Trent University and spent almost a decade working for Nottinghamshire County Council, specialising in child protection, children in care and adoption services.

In 1998, she moved to Nottingham City Council where she took on a series of management roles before becoming Head of Neighbourhood Fieldwork in 2008.

In 2013, she was appointed director of children’s integrated services.

Catherine Underwood, corporate director for people, said: “Helen was an incredibly dedicated colleague and a true friend to many at the council and beyond.

"I’m delighted that we’ve been able to honour her this way and it was special to share that moment with her family.”

The ceremony was attended by Ms Blackman’s husband Kevin Campbell, her children Stephan, Raia and Ella, her brother Gavin and her parents, Felicity and Pete.

Mr Campbell said: “We’re really grateful that Helen has been recognised in this way and I feel that it’s a fitting legacy to her work over many years.

"The gesture is appreciated by our family and, I’m sure, staff at the contact centre as well.”