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'It's sad that disadvantaged young people will lose out' - Brexit could end overseas cultural trips

PUBLISHED: 14:58 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 30 October 2019

John Nooney, chief executive of Norfolk Youth Projects, based at the Phoenix Centre in Norwich. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

John Nooney, chief executive of Norfolk Youth Projects, based at the Phoenix Centre in Norwich. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

Sophie Wyllie

Brexit could spell the end of life-changing trips abroad for hundreds of disadvantaged young people, according to a prominent volunteer and charity founder.

John Nooney, chief executive of Norfolk Youth Projects, with, from left, Candice Earley, Alana Brennan, and Roza Gray, by the houses built from pallets in the Kinderdorp Children's Village project at Catton Grove Primary School in 2017. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJohn Nooney, chief executive of Norfolk Youth Projects, with, from left, Candice Earley, Alana Brennan, and Roza Gray, by the houses built from pallets in the Kinderdorp Children's Village project at Catton Grove Primary School in 2017. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk Youth Projects (NYP), based at Norwich's Phoenix Centre, has organised around 80 cultural exchanges across Europe for 1,000 people from Norfolk aged 16-35 since 2003.

Its chief executive, John Nooney has warned that Brexit, due to happen at the end of January, would prevent the charity's annual trips abroad taking place from 2020 because it would lose funding.

NYP schemes, which are open to any young person, are mainly paid for by the European Union funded Erasmus+ programme, which contribute between £38,000-£51,000 per project.

Mr Nooney, from St Andrew's Road in Hellesdon, said: "We wouldn't be able to fund these projects without Erasmus+. We will have to rethink things."

He added that the charity would not be able to carry out as many trips abroad each year and carry out more residential experiences in the UK as funding would be a struggle.

Mr Nooney added: "It is going to be sad that disadvantaged young people from Norfolk will lose the opportunity to get an international experience.

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"Through the projects they gain in confidence and learn presentational skills. They meet other people from other countries and learn about other countries. They want to continue to travel."

Any young person from Norfolk can take part in the NYP cultural exchanges or 12-month long voluntary projects.

"There have been many times when we have done a project and someone has to get their first passport because they have never gone outside of Norfolk.

"The cultural exchanges do change young people's lives because they meet young people from other countries," Mr Nooney said.

Countries where young people have visited include the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Kosovo and Croatia.

Part of the projects involve talking about the UK to young people from other nations and welcoming them to Norfolk.

Mr Nooney feared Brexit would cause the UK to live in a bubble.

Visit www.norfolkyouthprojects.org.uk

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