Norfolk charity has helped thousands of young homeless people

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager for the Benjamin Foundation tries out the sleeping

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager for the Benjamin Foundation tries out the sleeping bag for the charitiy's Sleepout campaign with the rest of the team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Since its foundation in 1994, the Benjamin Foundation has helped thousands of homeless young people in Norfolk.

It was created by Richard and Vanessa Draper following the death of their son, Benjamin, in a motorcycle accident two years earlier.

While Mr Draper has since retired from his role as chairman of the charity, it continues to change the lives of thousands of people in our county.

Matt Garrod, director of operations, said the charity assisted about 2,000 people each year through its homelessness services.

He said: 'Our work is focused on prevention, and the cost of delivering our services today prevents greater sums having to be spent in the future when many children, young people and families could need more complex and costly interventions.

'Everything the charity does is driven by the needs of the community it serves.'

The charity's two main services give young homeless people the skills to live independently, while also providing them with accommodation and support.

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In 2010, it launched its Heart and Home scheme, which gives young people the chance to live with a host family. Meanwhile, its supported accommodation at Winston Court in North Walsham, which opened in 1997, looks after around 15 young people at any one time.

Money from this year's Norwich sleep out will go towards these services to ensure they continue running in the future.

Last year's event raised £17,000 after 70 people braved the elements for one night sleeping rough in Norwich.

Mr Garrod said: 'If you are young and homeless you need so much more than a 'roof over your head', young people need support and opportunities to get their lives back on track. This is our role, to do all we can to help prepare young people for their next steps towards independence.'

The charity receives some funding from district councils in Norfolk, as well as its furniture shops across the county.

Chris Elliot, marketing and fundraising manager, said: 'We want to keep growing because we know there is a need for it and there are so many more people we can help. But it all comes down to funding.'

The Evening News has teamed up with the charity to try to get 150 people taking part in the Norwich Sleep Out 2016 on November 11.

Visit www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk/sleep-out