Fears Norwich Remploy, which helps disabled people with employment, could close

MEP Alex Mayer (right), with Rumana Johnson, business manager at Remploy Norwich. Pic: Alex Mayer.

MEP Alex Mayer (right), with Rumana Johnson, business manager at Remploy Norwich. Pic: Alex Mayer. - Credit: Alex Mayer

Fears have been raised over the future of a Norwich service which helps disabled people with employment.

Remploy, based in Sackville Place, off Magdalen Street, helps disabled people and those with complex needs to find work and gives them support and advice to stay in employment.

Remploy used to have a factory in Norwich, where 26 disabled employees were among the 38-strong workforce. But it closed in 2013 after the government shut factories deemed to not be viable.

in 2015, 70 years after it was formed, Remploy left government ownership and the Sackville Place offices continue to help disabled people.

But, following a recent visit to the organisation, Labour's Alex Mayer, European MP for the Eastern region, said she feared for its future.

The Department for Work and Pensions is bringing its Work Choice programme - which enables disabled people to get support and help in getting a job - to an end over the next two years.

Mrs Mayer, who spoke about the issue at the European Parliament yesterday, said that would mean less money for organisations such as Remploy.

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She said: 'Four years ago, when Norwich's Remploy factory shut, the Department for Work and Pensions said 'funding should be focused on helping disabled people into mainstream jobs', but where is that funding now?

'Last week I saw Remploy's 'tree of success' decorated with the names of people they had helped into work.

'They told me about Milo who secured a full time job working on Cromer pier and Brandon who was hired for a job and said he now feels he has a future.

'Sadly it looks likely Remploy in Norwich will close as the cuts bite.'

A spokesman for Remploy would not comment on whether the service could close.

But they said: 'Remploy continues to support disabled people in Norwich through the delivery of our Work Choice contract, which remains operational until 2019.

'We also deliver a range of other programmes which support disabled people across the area, including specialist employability support and the access to work workplace mental health support service, and we continue to identify ways to support even more through new contracts and opportunities.'