'Brighter future' - Youth group to benefit from new Norfolk coalition

The Swan Project in Downham Market provides a safe space and social group for children. Picture take

The Swan Project in Downham Market provides a safe space and social group for children. Picture taken July 2019. Picture: Sarah Hussain - Credit: Archant

A youth group providing mental and physical support to children in its community will benefit from a new Norfolk coalition, which aims to create a 'brighter future' for the county's young people.

Sir Norman Lamb, former North Norfolk MP, and Norfolk Community Foundation have established a coalition of Norfolk-based voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations working with children and young people to help "strengthen their existing services."

Sir Norman Lamb and Norfolk Community Foundation have established a coalition of Norfolk-based voluntary, community and...

Sir Norman Lamb and Norfolk Community Foundation have established a coalition of Norfolk-based voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations working with children and young people. - Credit: Norfolk Community Foundation

The Sir Norman Lamb Coalition for Young People comes after Mr Lamb set up a Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund with Norfolk Community Foundation last year,  to fight for "better standards and care" for children and young people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and autism.

Among those that will benefit from the new support network is The Swan Project in Downham Market, which provides educational, social and emotional support to around 150 young people each year. 

The centre, which has been working locally for 10 years, is currently running Covid safe face-to-face sessions to continue its vital support for young people who have been "significantly impacted by the pandemic."

The Swan Project in Downham Market provides a safe space and social group for children. Picture: Sar

The Swan Project in Downham Market provides a safe space and social group for children. Picture: Sarah Hussain - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


Manager Anna Foster said: "Over the last two and a half years we have focused on delivering a holistic approach to support, very much joining with school, family and other services to bring positive aspiration and choices to our young people and their families.

"The children and teenagers we help face significant issues, with more than a quarter having mental health needs. West Norfolk has the highest exclusion rate for schools in the whole of Norfolk.

Most Read

"From recent sessions we are seeing issues with loneliness, depression, lack of motivation, difficulty in maintaining structure and significant sleep issues."

The manager said the new coalition is a "positive vision" that will support services like theirs with training, networking, funding, practical information and raising awareness.

She added: "We are delighted to be a part of this project and to be able to access support as well as offer support to others – this is very much about sharing good practice and celebrating the great work going on in Norfolk."

The Coalition held a virtual launch event on Monday, November 30, bringing together around 40 organisations which it aims to support, by providing access to shared resources and opportunities, including funding and training.

The Swan Youth Project in Downham Market has continued to offer support to children in the area during the second lockdown. 

The Swan Youth Project in Downham Market has continued to offer support to children in the area during the second lockdown. - Credit: The Swan Youth Project

Sir Norman and the Foundation also opened up grant applications for members of the coalition to access funding from their Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund to help existing open access youth work drop-ins and youth groups who provide specialist youth work opportunities, such as for young people with disabilities, autism and those from a BAME background.

They had previously held a youth mental health summit in June,  with local community organisations and Norfolk's Chief Constable, Simon Bailey, looking at the psychological impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on children, teenagers and young people.

It followed data produced by Kooth which had shown a rise in concerns about domestic abuse, child abuse, eating issues and struggles with body image in the East of England during the first lockdown.

Mr Lamb said: “This Coalition is a chance for Norfolk to be an exemplar, demonstrating to the rest of the country how we can be innovative in providing better community support, working together to share best practice and strengthen the existing provision, which is all needed now, more than ever, in the aftermath of Covid-19.

"Together, we can build a brighter future for all our young people, and something for our county for which we can all be proud.”

Claire Cullens, CEO of Norfolk Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to help bring together charities and community groups of all shapes and sizes to establish this new and exciting coalition, continuing our commitment to support our fantastic frontline charities who are uniquely placed to help give children and young people the best start in life.”

Norfolk-based VCSE organisation working with children and young people interested in becoming a member of the Sir Norman Lamb Coalition for Young People, can contact Cindee Crehan at Norfolk Community Foundation at cindeecrehan@norfolkfoundation.com or 01603 623958.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter