Online network from Norwich social enterprise aims to tackle “terrible” social mobility

Your Own Place founder and director Rebecca White with, left, Jarrod Ewles (tenancy and independant

Your Own Place founder and director Rebecca White with, left, Jarrod Ewles (tenancy and independant living trainer) and Simon George, a former service user. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A social enterprise is hoping to take a further step in tackling 'terrible' social mobility in Norfolk and Suffolk by offering young adults in need access to opportunities which help their better-off peers progress socially and in employment.

Your Own Place has launched a new online network which will connect disadvantaged young people with businesses and individuals who could help them financially or materially.

It comes in the week education secretary Justine Greening visited Ipswich, which along with Norwich is among 12 opportunities areas chosen by the government for targeted action to improve social mobility.

Founder and director of Your Own Place, Rebecca White, suggested there may be a learned helplessness around dealing with the issue.

'I think we look to other people for all the solutions and they don't have them, or at least we are not making enough progress. We are, however, many years on from knowing about these problems and we have not solved them.

'This is about there not being an 'us' and 'them' – there is just 'us', and we have got more solutions than we realise.'

She added: 'The middle class have pointy elbows which get them to the front of the queue, but why should young people with fewer advantages not be able to benefit from other people's pointy elbows?'

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The company's new website Your Own Network enables young people, and business and individuals interested in helping them, to create profiles and connect to each other, with plans to set up a moderated message board. Young people will be able to share their goals – both personal and professional – and can also share an Argos wish list, so those wanting to help out can purchase products to furnish a home.

The website was designed on a pro bono contract by Naked Marketing in Norwich.

Ms White said: 'It is designed to be really aspirational. The community – whether that is other people or businesses – can get involved. They can make donations, but what we really want is for the community to invest in those young people.'

The website follows the launch of Your Own Place's volunteer tenancy mentor scheme in October, which hopes to enlist 260 business people across Norfolk and Suffolk to offer their time and support to its 16 to 25-year-old service users.