Contact center renowned for Nottingham children’s ‘champion’

A contact center in Radford has now been renamed ‘Helen’s Place’ in recognition of a senior city council officer who died of Covid last year.

Helen Blackman, who was the authority’s director of integrated children’s services, had been a strong advocate for the Garden Street facility. She died in March 2021.

The center, which supports local families, underwent a recent renovation which Ms Blackman had helped before she fell ill.

Helene blackman

In a small ceremony this morning involving his family, he was officially renamed in his memory by Councilor Cheryl Barnard, holder of the portfolio for children and youth.

Ms. Blackman was determined that the contact center would always be a welcoming and friendly place for children and youth to spend time with their families.

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Councilor Barnard said, “Helen cared passionately about the experiences of our children in care. She has dedicated her career and energies to improving the results of young people in Nottingham. Helen was a brilliant champion for children and a strong role model to her colleagues.

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“It’s really important to us that his legacy lives on and we thought there was no better way to do that than to give the contact service his name. This is a fitting tribute to Helen as she has been instrumental in advancing the renovations that have taken place in recent years.

Councilor David Mellen, Head of Nottingham City Council, worked closely with Ms Blackman during her years as the portfolio holder for children and youth.

He attended the opening today and said, “Helen was clearly born to work with children. She had a natural warmth and empathy that shone through her tireless efforts, and nothing was more important to her than the well-being and life chances of the young people of Nottingham.

“To name in her memory a call center so close to her heart, and which she worked hard to renovate, is a fitting tribute to all she has done for the city’s children’s services.

Ms Blackman, 54, living in Bulwell, received her first social worker degree in 1989. She studied at Nottingham Trent University and spent nearly a decade working for the County Council of Nottinghamshire, specializing in child protection, children in care and adoption services.

In 1998 she moved to Nottingham City Council where she held a series of managerial positions before becoming Head of Neighborhood Field Work in 2008. In 2013 she was appointed Director of Integrated Children’s Services where she had overall responsibility for children and youth in the city.

Catherine Underwood, Corporate Director for People, said: “Helen was an incredibly dedicated colleague and true friend to many on the Board and beyond.

“She was a passionate champion of children and youth and an inspiring leader in social work, both locally and nationally. I am delighted that we were able to honor him in this way and it was special to share this moment with his family.

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

Mr Campbell said: “We are truly grateful that Helen has been recognized in this way and I think it is a fitting legacy for her work for many years. The gesture is appreciated by our family and, I’m sure, the contact center staff as well.

“Helen was a firm believer in supporting families in Nottingham and the wider region, and this center truly embodies what she has tried to accomplish for the children of the city.”