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YMCA Norfolk celebration smashes stereotypes

Young residents of YMCA Norfolk were busy smashing stereotypes at the Christian charity’s annual celebration event and AGM at The Forum in Norwich last night (October 29). Keith Morris reports

 
Residents from YMCA accommodation in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn sang, danced, rapped and told their own stories straight from the heart to make a big impression on a packed audience of over 120 in the Curve Theatre venue.
 
YMCA Norfolk chief executive, Tim Sweeting, said: “Norfolk’s young people find themselves in a society that is changing faster than ever; they are subject to greater pressure to grow up earlier, achieve more and consume more.
 
“But they are impacted by greater levels of family breakdown, financial pressures, rural transport issues, an always on social media culture, lack of employment opportunities, and structural issues such as poor careers guidance or an impenetrable and unforgiving welfare system.
 
“It is hard to be a young person in Norfolk today; it is even harder when you have little or no family support. But the stereotypes of young people are almost universally negative. Tonight you are going to meet the real youth of today, those who are striving to be the best they can be, who have hopes and aspirations and who are incredibly talented.
 
“Please help us to change those stereotypes, be moved into action by the contrast between what you see tonight and all that you are told about young people so that together we can remove the barriers that prevent so many of them from achieving their full potential.”
 
The celebration was also addressed by President, General The Lord Dannatt and chairman Richard Pennington who said that the YMCA is here to give young people a second chance and a third chance if necessary.
 
The audience was told that during the last year YMCA Norfolk provided over 500 bed nights of emergency accommodation to stop young people resorting to a night on the streets; gave nearly 450 of Norfolk’s young people a safe home and support towards independent living; completed the transfer of Umbrella Housing Group’s operations and assets to the YMCA, consisting of 15 properties in Norwich offering 35 units of accommodation to single parent families in Norwich; had well over 500 contacts with parents providing advice and guidance; transformed the quality of housing offered in Great Yarmouth with the opening of two new housing schemes for over 30 young people; and started the roll out of restorative practice in housing services, transforming the approach to housing management issues towards working to rebuild broken relationships.
 
Tim Sweeting said: “Our work in Norfolk over the last 150 years has adapted to meet the needs of each generation of young people. And for those of us who have been called to be stewards of this great organisation for this generation, we are committed to ensuring all we do gives them the best chance of reaching their potential in body, mind and spirit.”
 
Click here To See A Copy Of The YMCA Norfolk Annual Review 2013.
 
Pictured above are YMCA residents who took part on the annual celebration event at the Forum. Picture by Julia Holland.


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