Multi-million pound boost for kids

Millions of pounds are to flood into Norfolk to boost the job prospects and aspirations of hundreds of youngsters.Dozens of projects across the region will be funded to help young people realise their dreams in life as part of the £100m investment by the East of England Development Agency (Eeda).

Millions of pounds are to flood into Norfolk to boost the job prospects and aspirations of hundreds of youngsters.

Dozens of projects across the region will be funded to help young people realise their dreams in life as part of the £100m investment by the East of England Development Agency (Eeda).

For many years the county has been beset by a lack of ambition and low educational attainment and in March it emerged that more than 1,700 teenagers were locked in a “spiral of despair” with no job, education or training.

The cash will be used on initiatives from helping youngsters find work and gain skills, to encouraging young parents to go back to class.

Norfolk is receiving £16.5m - the largest share of the cash, a reflection of the extent of the deprivation and attainment problems in the county.

Suffolk gets £11m and Cambridge £9m.

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Average earnings are 15pc lower in Norfolk than the rest of the region with parts of Yarmouth, Norwich and King's Lynn lagging even further behind.

Projects include:

NR5 Project - a £750,000 scheme launched in West Norwich today by city MP Charles Clarke featuring recording studios and classrooms which provides multi-media and radio training and education using state of the art technology.

Kickstart - A Dereham-based scheme to help people in remote areas access jobs by providing motor scooters

Bizzfizz - a onestop shop for business start-ups in Norwich

the Alchemy Project - working with Yarmouth College to provide support for fledging businesses to develop

While there are also schemes for teaching basic maths and English to those workers turned off by the classroom who need to brush up their skills.

Future projects being considered include plans to use village halls as learning centres.

The announcement comes as county councillors last night discussed ways of tackling child poverty in Norwich.

David White, chief executive of Norfolk County Council, which is a key player in the Investing in Communities Partnership, said the aim was to help broaden the horizons of youngsters.

“What we are trying to do is help those young people in Norfolk to achieve goals that some may think are beyond them,” he said. “Many of these projects will aim to reach young people who aren't necessarily going to get inspired by algebra, but if we can get them into a radio studio or teach them bricklaying for example, we can help them to develop not only career skills, but general life skills.

“We're looking at different approaches to trying to engage them with learning so that they don't fall out of the system altogether - helping them to develop skills, and alongside that, personal aspirations."

Richard Ellis, chairman of Eeda said schemes such as NR5 were perfect examples of how the Investing in Communities programme could help.

“It doesn't pretend to help the community by simply giving it a cash injection - it is much more sophisticated than that,” he said.

“it engages with young people and encourages them to get involved in interesting and worthwhile activities in order to develop their skills. This is excellent news, because it will help tackle deprivation at its heart.”

Vince Muspratt, Investing in Communities manager, at County Hall, said the idea behind the four-year funding programme, was to create projects which could be self-sustaining once the original handout dries up.

“What we aim to do is try different approach and challenge government with new solutions,” he said. “Everything we are about is to try and get people into work or maximise their opportunities.”

Alison Webster, executive director, skills and communities at Eeda the aim is to help the many individuals whose potential has not been unlocked.

“We need to tap into this resource so that both employers and the Norfolk economy can continue to grow and prosper,” she said. “Investing in Communities will ensure that funding is spent where it is needed to address the barriers that people face in achieving their full potential and aims to make a tangible difference to the lives and opportunities for people in Norfolk.”

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