24/10/2017

City centre charity, OPEN Youth Trust, are asking for the local community to vote for them in them in the Aviva Community Fund which opens TODAY - Tuesday 24th October 2017.

Thanks to an entry to the Aviva Community Fund by insurance brokers, Hugh J Boswell, city centre charity, OPEN Youth Trust (OPEN), have been successful in getting through to the voting round.

Now OPEN are calling for the local community to vote for “OPEN - Out and About”, which if successful would allow the charity to purchase a mini-bus and give young people in rural Norfolk access to the activities on offer within their city centre venue.  Having a mini-bus would mean that OPEN can travel to young people and pick them up outside of school hours, allow them full access to our services and take them home safely in the evening. This would have a dramatic and positive effect on the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable young people across our county who are on the very margins of society. 

Grainne Buckley, Head of Fundraising said: “Young people in rural areas of Norfolk are extremely isolated and OPEN is in a unique position to offer them the chance to get out and about, make friends and develop new activities and passions. We desperately need to engage with these young people and offer them somewhere to go, someone to talk to, and something to do. However, Norfolk is a rural and sparsely populated county and it remains difficult for us to engage young people in geographically isolated areas. Transport links are poor in most of the county and, often, young people aged between 11-19 cannot afford public transport. Those who have physical disabilities face further challenges”.

Head of Youth Services, Charlene Ledgard said: “We want to be able to provide a free local bus service to our venue enabling young people to safely access youth provision without the restriction of poor transport or cost. A fifteen-seater minibus, adapted for full disability provision, would be the perfect solution to this problem”.

Rachelé Kelsall, Head of Community Development at Hugh J Boswell said: “A minibus would have huge benefits and impact on young people for decades to come. If OPEN are successful in securing funding they can start the service straight away and have already identified five schools across the county that have asked for this service”.

If successful in winning the Aviva Community Fund, the bus would operate five days a week across the following areas - Breckland, Broadland, South Norfolk, as well as the more deprived areas on the outskirts of Norwich itself.  The bus would also be used to support OPEN’s current work in over sixteen youth venues in Norfolk, by providing day and residential trips, and extend our service for young people significantly across the county.

The minibus service would have the potential to extend the reach of OPEN’s provision to a further 3,900 young people every year, enabling them to access a full after school programme five days a week at OPEN youth venue. 

One young person Sam said: “I would LOVE to be able to go to OPEN in the evenings. They do really cool stuff, it is great fun and loads of my Norwich friends go there. I really feel like I am missing out but I have no way of actually getting there, so please vote for OPEN and make this happen so that I can join my friends”.

Vote here: voting closes on mid-day, 21st November 2017.

WATCH:Watch our video here – this was produced by young people at OPEN encouraging people to vote  

NOTES TO EDITORS:

OPEN Youth Trust was established in 2006 to give young people in Norfolk the life skills and confidence to maximise their potential. We now make a positive difference to the lives of over 4,500 young people each year through our drop-In youth hub in the city centre, workshops, gym, dance studio and climbing wall. We offer volunteering and mentoring workshops designed to get our young people work ready and to help them to get to grips with the day to day challenges of independent living. Our service is free of charge to young people and funded through our commercial activities.

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Survey conducted across 324 local authorities in the UK reported that Norfolk was rated 323 out of 324. It concluded that “The life prospects of the poorest children in Norfolk are among the worst in the country.” Local Authority budget cuts have had a drastic effect on youth provision - young people are relying heavily on the third sector to provide help inaccessible elsewhere. At OPEN, we are working to address this issue focussing on the needs of the most disadvantaged who suffer from low self-esteem, estrangement, self-harm, bullying, disengagement, abuse, mental health issues or poor wellbeing.

OPEN have identified a 2010 IVECO 15-seater minibus - wheelchair accessible with a twin handrail system. The total cost is circa £24,500 and need the help of Aviva's Community Fund to purchase it.