Youngsters transformed by home makeover

A group of young people from Norfolk have helped turn their lives around after performing a Changing Rooms TV style makeover on a children's home.

A few months ago, they were out of work, out of college, and low on ambition and opportunities.

But a group of young people from Norfolk have helped turn their lives around after performing a Changing Rooms TV style makeover on a children's home.

The 10 volunteers revealed the fruits of four weeks' hard work yesterday after turning two "dingy" rooms into bright and colourful play areas, thanks to a Prince's Trust and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service initiative.

Residents of the Mill House Children's Home at Methwold were let loose on their brand new pool room, "chill out" room, outdoor football practice wall, and camouflaged tree house after the completion of the community project.

Officials yesterday praised the efforts of the nine young people from King's Lynn and one from Fakenham, who were part of a 12-week Prince's Trust Team programme.

Over the last four weeks, the 16 to 25 year olds raised £400 for the work by doing capoeira Brazilian dancing performances in King's Lynn and Norwich and haggled with local suppliers for free or discounted materials.

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For the last two weeks the volunteers put in countless hours of designing, sanding, carpentry, painting and carpet laying for the new play areas.

Robert Riley, assistant team leader for the Prince's Trust, said the project was all about gaining new skills and improving education and employment prospects for unemployed young people, who have under achieved in the past.

"When we first arrived at the children's home, we were not too sure what to expect, but they have taken the project by the scruff of the neck and designed and built every part of it."

"There have been massive changes in each individual and we had no idea that they had these skills. When they started, there was no teamwork whatsoever, but they have come here and proved that they can learn new skills and work together," he said.

Bernie Asbury, manager of the Mill House Children's Home, said she was "delighted" with the work of the Team members, who had listened to the views of the young residents.

"I am amazed by how much they have done in two weeks. They could start a business on the basis of this beautiful work and I hope they get offered work in the near future. They deserve it," she said.

Mark Wilson, 19, from King's Lynn, said he wanted to fulfil his dream of becoming a chef as a result of taking part in the course.

"I have never done anything like this before, but the Prince's Trust has given me the chance to change my life around. I used to be very angry and dropped out of school, but this has helped me to grow up and work in a team," he said.

Ruth Riddell, 20, from King's Lynn, said she wanted to do a return to study course after becoming group leader for the children's home project. "It has been difficult and really hard work at times, but I have learnt what can be achieved in such a short space of time if people work together," she said.

The next Team programme at King's Lynn begins on May 7. For more information, call 01553 669845 or 07917 351097.