Working from the base up
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013
In an area of Norwich which is statistically within the top 15pc of deprived areas in the country, the work of The base charity is vital to inspire, engage and support the next generation.
Launched three years ago as a combined partnership by children’s charity Banardo’s and leaders at The Park Side School and the Hewett School in Norwich, the aim was to provide a centre offering a range of services for youngsters in the Lakenham and Tuckswood areas to empower them to reach their full potential.
“We felt there was support for primary aged children but a gap for older, high school age children in the support services available for families,” says Joanna Tuttle, company secretary for The Base Community Trust, which oversees the The base.
“People find it hard to believe that in a county like Norfolk you can have those high levels of deprivation, but it is very specific in certain pockets.”
Joanna says that although The base has close links with surrounding schools, with Barry Payne, head teacher of Parkside Special School, and Sue Raywood, associate head of the Hewett School, acting as trustees, it is run as a completely independent trust and is for any young person in the community aged 11 to 18.
“The aim of the charity is to ensure it can help everyone who comes through the doors, either here at the centre or by connecting them with outside agencies. We also want the centre to be open as many hours as possible in the future,” she explains.
As well as organising various events and programmes, during the week between 3.45pm and 5pm it is also serves as a drop in centre where young people can come to talk, get advice or simply do their homework.
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Among the trustees is David McNally, chief executive of Norwich City Football Club.
“I was delighted when asked to become involved with The base because it is a Norwich charity with Norwich people helping those in our community who do really need some help - vulnerable young people and their families,” he says. “Whilst we are thrilled that the football club now plays on a worldwide stage, our community focus starts with the people of Norwich and The base helps the club support the most local and needy within its community.”
Thanks to fund-raising efforts, the trust has just employed a full-time youth worker and this month will launch its new youth clubs, with four distinct programmes running during the evenings, all developed in conjunction with the students who will be using it.
“Two nights we will run youth clubs and the youngsters have chosen to have a separate girls and boys programme,” says Joanna. “I think that shows the importance of being guided by what they want. There are so many pressures these days on young people and sometimes they just want to be boys or girls, do what they really want to do without living up to an image and without that peer pressure.”
There will be a youth club specifically for young people with special educational needs, with the charity believing that there is a lack of provision outside of school for those youngsters, and a special evening programme to help children aged from 14 to start thinking about work.
“We will talk about career ideas, involve mentors from businesses and hopefully offer work experience. The team will also help to create CVs, prepare youngsters for interviews and if possible offer grants for simple things such as buying a shirt and tie.””
Over the past year, the charity has held several fund-raising events, most notably a ball and auction at Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground, supported by the club and many Norfolk companies.
“Everyone has been so generous, and thanks to the efforts of those involved we raised £15,410, which has paid for a full-time youth worker which will make such a difference to so many young people,” says Joanna.”