Joy at “vital” �300,000 grant for Norwich’s Open youth venue

Families and disadvantaged youngsters from around Norwich will have even more opportunities to make use of the city's Open youth venue, after �300,000 in funding was awarded to it.

Staff from the Open Youth Trust, which manages the big former Barclays bank building on Bank Plain, are celebrating after learning of the Reaching Community grant from the Big Lottery Fund. This will mean �100,000 of funding in each of the next three years – which will pay for three existing members of staff and one new youth worker, who will specialise in dance.

Sarah Mintey, principal of the Open Youth Trust, said: 'I am delighted that the Open Youth Trust has been awarded this significant grant from Reaching Communities. Last year the trust worked with 27,500 young people and struggles to meet the demand it currently faces.

'This funding will enable us to pay for three existing youth posts and appoint an additional team member who will specialise in dance to add further capacity to our positive activities youth team.'

The funding will pay for 100 young people - of which 50 will be people currently not in education, employment, or training - to develop communication skills by completing accredited leadership training, which they will then use as volunteers to help others.

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It will also allow 500 disadvantaged young people who have learning difficulties and disabilities to gain skills in creative industries, to help reduce community isolation and build self-esteem.

While as many as 3,000 vulnerable youngsters will be involved in educational, recreational and social activities which will improve their personal health and 1,000 vulnerable children and youth at risk of exclusion from school will have access to training which will lead to a qualification and improve their employability skills.

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The Open Youth Trust was founded in 2004 and has continually expanded into the Bank Plain building, which has undergone a �12m refurbishment and now has facilities including a dance studio, climbing wall, media lab, recording studio and a 'drop-in' space for under-18s on afternoons and Saturdays.

The work is funded by the range of events held at Open, such as conferences for up to 500 people, celebration and awards nights, live music events - such as the sold-out Newton Faulkner gig on Saturday night - and closed secure storage.

Profits from all these events are reinvested into developing the activities for young people at Open.

Ms Mintey continued: 'This is vital funding for our capacity because the lives gigs side of things has taken off dramatically so that side of things will be really helped by us having another member of our team.

'Families, schools and third-sector organisations will all benefit from this because they can use our facilities as they don't have the facilities themselves, which is great.'

- Has Open turned your life around? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or

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