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Breckland youths to benefit from cash boost

PUBLISHED: 17:43 22 December 2011

Alison Thomas, county council cabinet member for children's services

Alison Thomas, county council cabinet member for children's services

Keith Whitmore +44 (0)7785 354701

A drop-in cafe for teenagers in the Breckland area is among eight new youth projects to be set up in Norfolk.

Grants worth tens of thousands of pounds have been awarded to a variety of schemes as the county council aims to ease the impact the cutting of youth services will have on youngsters.

The Youth Innovation Fund, administered by Norfolk Community Foundation, has so far given £35,000 from a total pot worth £150,000 to organisations planning to set up new projects.

Among the recipients is North Breckland Youth for Christ which was awarded £4,000 in funding.

Angela Fox, charity director, said: “We are delighted. That money will allow us to help lots of young people.”

The group, based at Mattishall’s Methodist Church, hopes to launch three drop-in cafes Mattishall, Shipdham and Swanton Morley, near Dereham, in early spring next year.

The cafes will be run by volunteers, will serve good quality food, coffee and will offer a place for teenagers to spend time after school. Interactive computer games will also be on offer.

“The cafes will allow young people to become involved in the community,” Mrs Fox added.

East Norwich Youth Project, Hub Community Project in Wymondham, Mancroft Advice Project, in Norwich, Creative Arts East, The Benjamin Foundation in North Walsham, North Lynn Discovery Centre, and Thalia Theatre Company, Norwich, will also set up new schemes with the grants.

A further £42,000 has been handed out by the council’s Youth Transition Fund to help existing projects struggling in the tough economic climate.

East Norwich Youth Project, Exchange2, based in Harleston, King’s Lynn’s Friday Club, Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind, North Lynn Discovery Centre, and the Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre in Great Yarmouth have all benefited.

The money, part of a £250,000 pot, hopes to support the organisations as they look for long-term funding solutions.

It follows the decision by the county council to de-commission its youth service completely as part of its budget cuts.

Instead, the authority is setting up seven Youth Advisory Boards in each Norfolk district which will have £45,000 to spend on schemes in their areas.

Sharon Matthews, director of operations for The Benjamin Foundation which has been awarded £5,000 to launch a six-month Big Screen Youth Project, said: “The need for quality youth work intervention hasn’t gone away with the withdrawal of local authority funding. It’s still there and the voluntary sector is stepping in.”

The Youth Innovation and Youth Transition Funds aim to bridge the gap as the changes come into effect.

Alison Thomas, county council cabinet member for children’s services, said, although no longer able to deliver youth services itself, the authority was committed to working with other groups to ensure young people could access activities, support, training and guidance in their communities.

Future activities run by North Breckland Youth for Christ, run by two part time staff and 14 volunteers, include a social action day between April 2 and 5 where teenagers aged between 11 and 20 will carry out tasks in Ashill, Watton, Toftwood, Mattishall and Shipdham, including gardening and car washing.

Youngsters who become involved in the charity can also learn leadership skills and the group works with students at Northgate High School, in Dereham, the Dereham Community Support Centre, which cares for disadvantaged teenagers, and different churches.

If you would like to become involved, contact Mrs Fox by ringing 07747471221, email afox@northbrecklandyfc.org.uk or visit www.northbrecklandyfc.org.uk

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