‘I’d be in a crack house without the help of The Benjamin Foundation’ - why young people are urging Norfolk councillors not to make cuts to charities

Sam, who has been helped by The Benjamin Foundation.Byline:: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2016

Sam, who has been helped by The Benjamin Foundation.Byline:: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2016 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Sam is brutally blunt when asked where he would be without support from The Benjamin Foundation - 'I'd be in a crack house'.

The 19-year-old is one of nearly 80 young people who live in six supported accommodation centres provided by the Norwich-based charity across Norfolk.

But the lifeline for he and other young people is under threat, with the charity warning the 'worst case scenario' impact of Norfolk County Council funding cuts would be that those centres would close.

County Hall is currently consulting on proposals which would take almost £5m out of support services which protect vulnerable people.

The Benjamin Foundation, set up in 1991, is one of the organisations whose funding, via the council's supporting people budget, would be threatened.

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Yesterday, some of the young people who have been helped spelled out why the service is so important, in front of councillors from Norfolk, Norwich and King's Lynn.

Sam has lived in the charity's Right Tracks unit in King's Lynn since June, having been referred by the College of West Anglia.

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He said: 'The situation at home was pretty tense. I was using cannabis and our personalities clashed with each other.

'Then I moved into Right Tracks and the showed me different ways.

'I can now say I am going somewhere with my life and I am really thankful for that.'

Tony Ing, chief executive of the charity, warned if the cuts happen, the worst case scenario would see accommodation units shut and the best case would still see quality of service suffer.

The county council said it is asking housing authorities and other service providers, to work to find ways of using the money spent to deliver housing related services.

Consultation over the proposed cuts continues until Friday, with county councillors making a decision in February.

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