Crisis project for Norwich youth secured with £500k lottery boost

Mancroft Advice Project staff celebrate after getting £500,000 in Big Lottery Funding.PHOTO BY SIMON

Mancroft Advice Project staff celebrate after getting £500,000 in Big Lottery Funding.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A crisis intervention project which helps thousands of desperate young people in Norwich has had its future secured after a half a million pound injection from the Big Lottery Fund.

The Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) have 50 children and young people come through its doors every day, and now have the freedom to set their own agenda for the next five years thanks to the cash.

Chief executive Dan Mobbs said the funding is vital after years of government cuts squeezing the sector.

'Getting lottery funding really does feel like winning the lottery,' he said.

'It is the long term nature of the funding that is vital for us. So much funding now is short term and we often have to reinvent what we are doing to suit a certain view. 'This gives us five years to plan and develop best practice.'

MAP have been working with people aged between 11 and 25 in Norwich for 25 years, aiming to steer them away from crisis point and back into housing, education, and employment.

But Mr Mobbs said hunger among young people is a new phenomenon to be tackled in Norwich.

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'There is now so much more demand on non-public organisations because of the government cuts, and it is far more competitive to get funding,' he said.

'Of this particular fund, only seven per cent of applicants were successful. That comes from being really good at what we do, and working hard at it. 'We want to be able to do more than solve a crisis. We want to make sure they have the opportunity to move on in life and access employment and training. Resolving the crisis is one thing but if you do not have the support in place afterwards it can be a waste. 'There are many more people now in crisis because of the government cuts, and we are now seeing people come to us without having eaten. It is only over the last five years we have had hungry young people coming to us, and we are not satisfied just giving them a full stomach.'

One MAP success story is 23-year-old Edmund Weaver, from Norwich, whose difficulties began seven years ago when his mother died.

'My social worker helped me take over her council tenancy but I struggled to cope and was evicted,' he said.

After finding a new home, Mr Weaver's flatmate disappeared leaving him with £1,500 of debts.

'I had to move out, was made homeless, and lost my job because I became unreliable due to my circumstances and was hiding the fact I was homeless,' he said.

'MAP helped me with food parcels and benefits and negotiated with the storage company to keep my belongings safe. They also helped me update my CV and explore my options going forward.

'I'm now qualified, working, in secure accommodation with my belongings, and very positive about my future.'

The £499,611 grant to MAP is part of a £30 million announcement across England made today by the Big Lottery Fund.

Big Lottery Fund England Chair, Nat Sloane saidthe projects would 'help people overcome and work through the underlying causes of their hardship and put them in a better position to improve their circumstances'