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Thetford cafe set for Meet Up

PUBLISHED: 09:25 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:53 07 July 2010

A THETFORD café which was established as part of a project to inspire youngsters will be up and running in a matter of weeks.

A THETFORD café which was established as part of a project to inspire youngsters will be up and running in a matter of weeks.

Located in the former Redcastle Furze Community Centre, the Meet Up Café is at the heart of the Thetford Inspiring Communities Project which aims to encourage young people in the town to explore new opportunities.

Norfolk charity The Benjamin Foundation, which helps vulnerable people across Norfolk, is behind the initiative, having won £400,000 of government funding last year.

Named the Meet Up Café, it was designed specifically for 11 to 14-year-olds and will be open to young people and their families.

The cafe was named by seven-year-old Charles Burrell High School pupil, Joseph Wild, who entered a competition run by the charity to name the building.

Operational manager for children and young people at the Benjamin Foundation, Sharon Matthews, said the name was chosen for its simplicity.

“We hope the café will be a place where young people and their families can meet up with friends and get involved in a range of new activities which will inspire them,” she said.

“Inspiring Communities aims to encourage the development of innovative campaigns and activities designed to raise the achievement of young people in deprived areas; broadening their horizons and building their self esteem.

“The project in Thetford has had loads of input from local people so we can be sure that the services we are delivering are wanted and needed by the community.”

In October, people living on Thetford's Redcastle, Abbey and Barnham Cross estates were invited to tell the charity what they would like to see developed with the available funding.

Top of the list were the youth café, which will be the hub for the project, training opportunities and a community garden project.

Inspiring communities project manager Terry Jermy , 24, who is also a town councillor, said the project was one of the most exciting for Thetford children for many years. He will working alongside café development manager Tina Westgarth.

“We have a real opportunity to improve the lives of young people and it's not that long ago that I was at high school in the town so I can identify with some of the issues that they are facing.

“Between us, Tina and I know lots of people in this area so we hope that our local connection will be of extra value.”

The café will be open in several more weeks and the final touches are being put in place. Local tradesmen are particularly in demand as decorating and roof repairs still need to be carried out.

Mr Jermy added: “One painter and decorator has already offered his services because January isn't a busy time for him and he's keen to support the project.

“If we could find a roofing firm who would like to help we'd be over the moon.”

Anyone who would like to get involved as financial or practical sponsors of the project should call Mr Jermy on 01842 820871 or e-mail Sharon Matthews at Sharon.matthews@benjaminfoundation.co.uk.

For more information visit www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk.

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