Lottery boost for Norfolk charity that helps vulnerable young

Lorraine Bliss, newy re-appointed chief executive of the St Edmund's Society, which has just been a

Lorraine Bliss, newy re-appointed chief executive of the St Edmund's Society, which has just been awarded over 9,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to convert their premises at Oak Street into training workshops for youngsters. - Credit: Archant 2013

A Norwich charity that helps young people who are vulnerable or homeless has received nearly £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to set up a bike and vehicle maintenance programme.

The St Edmund's Society, which is currently based in Bull Close but planning to move, runs a skills development centre predominantly focused on the construction trade, but is looking to develop the bike maintenance skills programme because of interest among the younger generation as bikes help reduce carbon emissions.

Lorraine Bliss, the charity's recently reappointed chief executive, said the St Edmund's Society supported 60 youngsters a day aged 14 and over who have been struggling in mainstream education or have become involved in crime, as well as children who have not been able to get any qualifications.

She added the charity, which is planning to move to larger premises in Oak Street, focuses mainly on providing constuction sector qualifications in the painting and decorating, plastering and bricklaying fields, as well as joinery, site carpentry and hanging doors.

The organisation, which received £9,671 from the lottery's Awards for All body, works with qualification bodies such as the National Open College Network and City and Guilds and also has a partnership with developer Taylor Wimpey to provide some of its trainees with work experience.

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Mrs Bliss added: 'The money is going to give young people the opportunity to gain qualifications that will hopefully lead to employment. We are delighted to receive the money.'

The charity is hoping to move over to the Oak Street premises at the end of July or beginning of August to provide a larger building to be able to expand and provide the extra workshops.

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Funding for the organisation, which was started in 1967, comes from schools and the society has six tutors, three teaching assistants and a number of volunteers.

From September, the tutors hope to be able to provide skills training for youngsters aged 11 and over.

Further support has come from a donation from the property industry charity LandAid.

The society started out providing temporary accommodation and homeless services for young men before opening its first hostel in Earlham Road in 1968. In 1991, it introduced a resettlement programme to give young people independent living skills.

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