Norwich charities received over �1m this year from Children in Need - but has it helped?

This year more than �1m was given to 20 Norwich charities for their work with children and young people. ROSA MCMAHON spoke to some of them about the impact it will have on young lives.

Today is the Children in Need appeal day, when people across the country will be asked to dig deep to help children and young people.

The money is allocated to charity projects four times a year, and in August this year the BBC appeal awarded �1,034,327 to 20 charities based in Norwich for them to continue to widen their work in and around the city.

The amounts awarded to the causes ranged from �9,000 up to �120,000, with each charity using the money for different uses in their organisation.

Last year's appeal night raised over �26m, and there are hopes that this year the appeal will reach even higher totals.

Thorpe St Andrew based charity Nelson's Journey benefited from that total, ensuring they reach the growing number of bereaved children going to the charity for support.

Last year the 15-year-old bereavement support charity saw and supported 242 children who had suffered the loss of a relative.

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But already this year chief executive of the charity, Colin Lang, said that they have seen 320 young people who need their support, even before the year is out.

Mr Lang said the �119,441 from Children in Need will enable an additional staff member to be added to charity's team, to provide additional core support to the young people.

He said the new role of child bereavement service manager, taken up by Debbie Winteringham, will be supporting two bereavement support workers, as well as working with the bereaved children themselves: 'We are immensely grateful for the money from Children in Need. Support for the children is very important.

'Lots of children can't talk to remaining parents or siblings, and sometimes it takes an outsider to come in and build that rapport.'

Mr Lang said that bereavement affects children in different ways, and stressed the important for them to be able to off-load on to a trained worker, to get reassurance, and their confidence back.

Similarly, the Oak Grove Trust, in Catton Grove, a church based charity, have used their �71,024 funding to employ a full-time employee to help enhance and embed their work even more in the community.

The charity has contact with at least 1,400 people from the area each month, and by organising youth clubs, kids clubs, food bank distributions, and a community choir, they hope to engage the young people to help them improve their futures.

The money from Children in Need, has meant that Peter Young, 33, will take up the new role to work to empower the young people, mentor them, and support in any areas they feel they need.

The father-of-one, who currently co-owns the Tea House on Elm Hill in the city, said: 'With my new role I can teach them life skills, to get them cooking and eating meals together.'

He added: 'It is a cracking sum of money. But what really makes the money work is the volunteers.'

City centre based charity Asperger East Anglia were given a proportion of the money for their youth projects for people aged 12 to 22, who have the syndrome where they experience difficulties with communication and social skills, which can lead to isolation and emotional problems.

The charity's base at the Charing Cross Centre on St John Maddermarket have used the �85,152 to extend their work into the Lowestoft area.

Thecla Fellas, the children and youth service manager at the charity, said: 'Before we were there, there was nothing in Lowestoft for young people with Asperger's.'

The group, Top Cats, has been introduced to the seaside town and has an average of 30 young people taking part.

Ms Fellas added: 'The money is fantastic. It allows these young people who wouldn't be able to do work experience and all the other things, to do it.

'We try to encourage them to do everything that young people of that age group do, including school holiday trips away.

'They do general fun things, social interaction and play music, whilst being supported by the staff.'

The charity as a whole offers assistance for everyone with or suspected of having the syndrome, as well as their families and others who work with or care for them.

With very few members of Top Cats having friends outside the group, the sessions prove essential for their social interaction, and money invaluable.

A domestic violence support charity, Leeway, received �75,159 to provide help to children and young people who are affected by domestic violence.

The charity ensures the young people are given a space to express their emotions and come to terms with the abuse.

The Children in Need money for Leeway has meant the opportunity to broaden out their work to the Breckland area of Norfolk, covering Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham, Attleborough and Watton, thanks to having the money from Children in Need makes 'a big difference'.

Julia Fox, the children and young people's outreach co-ordinator for the charity, said the money has meant they have been able to employ someone full-time to work in Breckland, continuing the charity's work.

She said: 'The Children in Need money makes a big difference. If we didn't have it, then the children we have already supported wouldn't have the got the services we provide.'

The charity undertakes some group work for children and young people, but on the whole the work they do is in a one-to-one capacity.

She added: 'It give the children an opportunity to explore their feelings and emotions in a safe environment. A lot of work can be about their future.'