Proud night for students after 'challenging' year of lockdown

Michael Gurney, deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk,  at the St-Eds Training Centre awards presentation on July 20, 2021.

Michael Gurney, deputy lieutenant of Norfolk, at the St-Eds Training Centre awards presentation on July 20, 2021. - Credit: St-Eds Training Centre

A charity which offers young people practical skills has celebrated their achievements after a challenging year.

South Norwich MP Clive Lewis at the St-Eds Training Centre 2021 awards ceremony.

South Norwich MP Clive Lewis at the St-Eds Training Centre 2021 awards ceremony. - Credit: St-Eds Training Centre

Around 150 people gathered together safely on July 20 for the awards ceremony for teenagers who completed courses at St-Eds Training Centre, based on Oak Street, Norwich.

The centre, which taught about 85 post-16 students and around 30 school-age children post-14, this past academic year had to temporarily close because of the coronavirus lockdowns but continued to teach remotely and keep in touch with pupils, some of whom have mental health and behavioural issues.

Lorraine Bliss, chief executive of St-Eds Training Centre.

Lorraine Bliss, chief executive of St-Eds Training Centre. - Credit: St-Eds Training Centre

Lorraine Bliss, St-Eds chief executive, said: "It has been a difficult year for all types of education. We work with young people who struggle with mainstream education and some live with families who have been badly affected by the pandemic. It has been very difficult for these kids.

"Some of our students did not have internet or access to a computer so we wanted to celebrate the achievements of our young people.

"Lots of people came back with anxiety or mental health issues after the lockdown but their attitude changed during the pandemic. They wanted to learn. It was amazing to see so many young people want to achieve qualifications.

"The staff were committed and sent out work to the kids and the parents are buying into different ways of learning."

Founded 65 years ago, the charity teaches professional qualifications for industries including construction, hair and beauty and motor mechanics as well as offering practical work experience.

Lord Mayor of Norwich Kevin Maguire presenting an award to a St-Eds Training Centre student.

Lord Mayor of Norwich Kevin Maguire presenting an award to a St-Eds Training Centre student. - Credit: St-Eds Training Centre

It also teaches maths and English at GCSE level, will start to teach health and social care from this September, and has links with businesses, around 30 schools as well as statutory bodies.

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Mrs Bliss added: "Some of our students are kids that struggled to find their own way. Not everyone is academic and can go to university. Industries like care providers and hospitality are crying out for staff at the moment."

She said it was lovely for the students to meet civic and political dignitaries at the ceremony, who they viewed as important.

Dignitaries at the St-Eds Training Centre 2021 awards ceremony.

Caroline Jarrold, Sheriff of Norwich (left), Lord Mayor of Norwich Kevin Maguire, Lorraine Bliss, chief executive of St-Eds Training Centre (third from left) and Michael Gurney, deputy lieutenant of Norfolk, at the St-Eds Training Centre awards presentation. - Credit: St-Eds Training Centre

"We were trying to get the message across that every child matters," the chief executive added.

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