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Raising aspirations for youngsters in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 09:58 15 April 2010 | UPDATED: 22:02 07 July 2010

Hundreds of balloons were released into the skies above Thetford to mark the official opening of a new community facility aimed at raising the aspirations of young residents.

Hundreds of balloons were released into the skies above Thetford to mark the official opening of a new community facility aimed at raising the aspirations of young residents.

Townsfolk gathered for the opening of the Meet Up Café at the former Redcastle Furze Community Centre on Thursday to provide training and support for youngsters.

The new service comes after the Benjamin Foundation charity received £400,000 from the government's Inspiring Communities fund last year.

The Thetford Meet Up service aims to encourage young people aged between 10 and 16 years, and their families, to explore new opportunities and gain new skills.

The café has been running for the last few weeks and attracts 30 to 40 young people per session who have got involved in courses including child protection, first aid, and basic food hygiene. Media skills training will also be one of the café's main objectives.

Organisers launched 150 balloons to mark the official opening of the Meet Up Café to symbolise the lift to the local community.

Terry Jermy, Thetford Meet Up service manager, said the project aimed to boost participants' self-esteem and employability.

“Speaking as a Thetford boy myself, many children from the town believe that there is a limit to what they can achieve. The aim of Thetford Meet Up is to change that. We want children to realise that there is a world of opportunities out there for them.”

“The cafe is a chilled out space where they can hang out with their friends in a safe environment but, more than that, the Meet Up Cafe will act as a hub for a huge range of activities, training and events which are designed especially for the 11 - 14 age group,” he said.

Richard Draper, chief executive of the Benjamin Foundation, added: “We believe that by presenting them with exciting choices, fun activities to try and an environment where they are actively encouraged to succeed, we will see a generation of Thetford's youngsters who are inspired to achieve positive things in their lives.”

For more information, call 01842 820871 or email terry.jermy@benjaminfoundation.co.uk.

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