'All I ever wanted was a proper family' - how £9m scheme helped teens

Norfolk County Council headquarters and Daniel Elmer

Norfolk county councillor Daniel Elmer (inset) has praised the authority's New Roads scheme - Credit: Archant

Teenagers helped by a new £9m Norfolk service have hailed it for giving them brighter futures and loving homes.

The New Roads service, operated by Norfolk County Council, runs hubs in Norwich and Dereham, where young people in need of support can live and get help.

Set up a year ago, the council says it has supported 170 young people aged between 12 and 17 and stopped 100 from going into care.

County Hall, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norfolk County Council New Roads scheme was launched last year - Credit: Archant

It has helped young people stay with their families and also paved the way for a dozen young people who were in care to go back to their family homes.

Among those helped was 14-year-old Marie - whose name have been changed to protect her anonymity - who went into care because her mother was not able to look after her and her father had died.

She repeatedly ran away from foster placements and was smoking cannabis.

She was offered a short-term place to live in a hub, where she was given help, including speech and language therapy.

She got on so well that Becky, a member of staff at the hub, offered Marie a foster place with her family. She is now settled and attending school.

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She said: “When they told me that Becky and her family were going to be fostering me, that was one of the best days of my life, because all I have ever wanted was a proper family and now I have got that.

“It’s my dream has come true. I am so happy where I am living now, and I am so grateful.

“I will never forget what the hub has done for me, so thank you to all of the staff members at the hub for making my dream come true.”

Norfolk County Councillor Daniel Elmer. Picture: Norfolk County Coucil

Norfolk County Councillor Daniel Elmer. Picture: Norfolk County Coucil - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Daniel Elmer, deputy cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It’s extremely positive that our New Roads service is so clearly helping to improve the lives of Norfolk’s young people.

“The service is helping more children to live safely at home, reducing criminalisation in some of the most vulnerable young people and ultimately supporting them to achieve their potential and lead fulfilling adult lives.

“It shows how thinking differently about how we engage and work with young people and their families to build lasting relationships is really having an impact.”