Why has Norwich been taken over by dinosaurs?

Break's coffee van which provides employment opportunities to young people

Break's coffee van which provides employment opportunities to young people - Credit: Break

Not only has Norwich's colourful dinosaur trail brought smiles to faces, it will also make a difference to the lives of vulnerable young people in the region. 

East Anglian children's charity Break is behind the GoGoDiscover trail which has been running in the city centre all summer and due to finish on Saturday, September 11. 

The charity has already announced plans to extend the trail across Norfolk in 2022 with a gigantic Steppe Mammoth sculpture set to join the T-Rex next year

Break provides a brighter future for children and young people on the edge of care, in care and leaving care. 

GoGoDiscover 2021 T. rex Trail 

Children's charity Break is behind the T-Rex trail in Norwich - Credit: DANIELLE BOODEN

The charity is committed to providing children with the healthy childhood and lifelong support they need to find their feet and enjoy a successful future. 

Break aims to become "like a loving extended family" to the young person when they need it most to prevent them feeling isolated.

Among the ways to support the youngsters are through providing foster carers, therapeutic sessions, offering mentors, as well as providing houses and flats to support young people through the difficult transition out of care into adulthood. 

Break also has a residential family assessment centre for parenting skills, and to keep young people connected with others through the difficult transition out of care into adulthood. 

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As well as ensuring 21 sculptures would brighten up the streets of Norwich this summer, the charity is also known for its coffee vans. 

Mei Zhang has benefited from Break's coffee van project 

Mei Zhang has benefited from Break's coffee van project - Credit: Break

Designed to help young people make the first step into employment, the Coffee Break programme is funded by the CHK Foundation to enable young care leavers the chance to engage in real work and learn new skills.

Joe Walden, project leader and a member of the Break opportunities team, said: "The idea of a coffee can came from the young people themselves, and this is one of the real strengths of the programme- it is made by and for the young people.

"We currently have six trained baristas on the van. It feels really good to be working alongside a young person, watching them grow in confidence is incredible." 

One of the young people who has developed skills through the project, Mei Zhang, said her mental health would have deteriorated without it.

"With the van I have a responsibility, something to keep going for and to keep working on," she said. 

"It gives me a creative outlet and the opportunity to do something I love and enjoy, and I can focus on that instead.

"Working on the van gets me out and about, means I’m not stuck at home all the time.

"I get to meet new people and make new friends inside and outside of Break."

Among the skills learnt were an understanding of customer service, business insight and how to make proper coffee.

All the baristas are aged 16 or over and come from all corners of Break services including fostering, disability and care leaver projects.

Sophie Li-Rocchi is head of art at Gresham's Prep School and has designed and decorated two T-Rex sculptures in Norwich 

Sophie Li-Rocchi is head of art at Gresham's Prep School and has designed and decorated two T-Rex sculptures in Norwich - Credit: Break

Meanwhile, one of Break's newest initiatives is Building Futures, which provides workshops for a career in construction with sessions for skills such as bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing.

The aim of the project, which launches soon, is to increase young people’s aspirations, motivation and increase their employability.

Break had launched an emergency appeal earlier this year to help recover some of the £2.1 million reduction in income due to Covid.

:: Support Break by donating online at www.break-charity.org or calling Break on 01603 670109. People can also text TREX to 70085 to donate £3. 

:: £20 pays for an individual arts and crafts therapy pack for a vulnerable child, while £120 provides a tailor made skills workshop for a young person – from bricklaying to helpful home maintenance, even barista training taster sessions in the Coffee Break van, providing valuable life skills and employment opportunities.

:: CoffeeBreak can be booked for events across East Anglia by emailing coffee@break-charity.org.

:: For more information about Break visit break-charity.org.

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