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Norwich arts festival offers chance of a new start

PUBLISHED: 17:30 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:46 02 July 2010

Stacy Gray, Gaelin Little, Frederick Beaumont,  Thomas Twissell and Joseph Flack - all work for the N&N Festival

Stacy Gray, Gaelin Little, Frederick Beaumont, Thomas Twissell and Joseph Flack - all work for the N&N Festival

Mary Hamilton

A professional dancer, a 20-year-old who was out of work for more than two years and an ex-welder recovering from a motorcycle crash are among the 10 young unemployed people given the opportunity to work at one of the county's biggest cultural events.

A professional dancer, a 20-year-old who was out of work for more than two years and an ex-welder recovering from a motorcycle crash are among the 10 young unemployed people given the opportunity to work at one of the county's biggest cultural events.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival has teamed up with the county council to offer the six-month contracts as part of the Future Jobs programme, which helps people who have been unemployed for at least six months back into work.

With the new additions, the festival's staff has swollen from 19 to 29, packing its small offices full to bursting with enthusiastic newcomers.

Gaelin Little, 23, of Earlham Road, Norwich, was the 300th person in Norfolk to benefit from the programme after months of unemployment as a trained dancer and choreographer.

She said: “This is helping me to round out my training and giving me loads of administrative skills I can use in the future to work on my own projects. It's enabling me to develop my own opportunities.”

Fred Beaumont, 20, of High Common, Harding, was a welder for two years before a motorcycle accident left him physically unable to do the work.

He said: “Two years went down the drain and I was looking for a job for about 9 months before I came here. I really like the environment, it's giving me lots of new skills and I love learning how to communicate with people and writing for the programmes.”

Thomas Twissell, 20, of Sprowston Road, Norwich, was out of work for more than two years before he applied to the programme and got a place at the Festival.

He said: “The problem for me was that I had a lot of skills but no qualifications and no experience to prove it, and I am looking at starting a business to help people in the same situation.

“I feel a lot better since I have been working here. It has helped me get into a routine. I feel a lot healthier and much more able to get up and get things done.

“I have definitely learned a lot of skills that will be useful for starting the business - I keep discovering new things I can do.”

Stacy Grey, 40, of Trinity Street, Norwich, completed a three-year fine arts degree before finding herself unemployed. She said: “I lost a lot of confidence. I thought the degree would put me in a good place but I came out into a recession.

“To have got into a creative environment is fantastic, and I hope this will be quite a few steps forward for me.”

Charlie Flack, 25, of Cambridge Street, Norwich, who worked in the music industry before losing his job due to the recession, said: “Being on the dole really does suck the life out of you, and it's hard to maintain your sanity and your motivation.

“Now I'm quite hoping for a long, fruitful career in arts administration.”

County council cabinet member for economic development Ann Steward said: “The Future Jobs programme gives youngsters exciting opportunities, and boosts young people's confidence and ambitions.

“It's hard work for young people who are unemployed. They are just trying and trying, and this enables them to have new opportunities, and helping more than 300 people in Norfolk is just fantastic.

“The young people here are so full of energy and enthusiasm. With their help it's going to be a great festival this year.”

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