Norwich MP is quizzed by young people with learning disabilities on unemployment in the city

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich-North, was at the forum answering questions on unemployment from young people with learning disabilities.

MINT, an employment service based in the Forum, funded by the Skills Funding Agency, help 85 16-25 year-olds in Norfolk who have barriers to employment.

The City College project is run by nine job coach staff, providing a unique service working with local employers.

One of the job coaches, Suzanna Worboys, said a key part of the process was getting to know the individual and understanding the work they were hoping to do. From this, the job coaches help with CVs, application forms, and lots of interview role-play to prepare the young people for work.

Darrell Allen, 17, from Thorpe, has been working with MINT since he left Langley School in July last year. He said: 'I am much more confident after working with a job coach. I have had a few job interviews, which I would have found a lot harder to do without the help here. Not getting a job can knock you back, but the job coaches help with that a lot.'

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Chloe Smith, also economic secretary to the treasury, was answering the young people's direct questions in MINT's training suite, opposite the Forum.

Their pre-pepared questions ranged from what can be done about disability employment in Norfolk, why benefits were being cut, and even her view on the coalition.

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Miss Smith said: 'More needs to be done in Norfolk, as well as national programmes to help. We need to make it as easy as possible for businesses to expand and grow, so there are even more jobs.'

On recent changes to the disability living allowance, Miss Smith added: 'If some people don't need the money, it can be used elsewhere. Although that's not to say people don't need it.'

She praised the the work MINT was doing and the young people for their 'enthusiasm and motivation'.

'MINT are doing a vital job in plugging the gap in employment, helping these young people.'

Lee Robinson, MINT project manager, said: 'Young people are the future, and it's so important to us to assist them into work.'

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