Leathes Prior’s Charity of the Year, OPEN Youth Trust has successfully submitted an entry to this year's Aviva Community Fund for a minibus to support their outreach team. The 15-seater, second-hand minibus with disabled access will be used to collect young people, in and around Norfolk from schools and Youth clubs so that they can avail of all the activities and classes at OPEN.
OPEN Youth Trust was established in 2006 to give young people in Norfolk the life skills and confidence to maximise their potential. They now make a positive difference to the lives of over 4,500 young people each year through their drop-in youth hub in the city centre, workshops, gym, dance studio and climbing wall. OPEN offer volunteering and mentoring workshops designed to get young people work ready and to help them to get to grips with the day to day challenges of independent living. The service is free of charge to young people and funded through their commercial activities.
However, young people in rural areas of Norfolk are somewhat isolated and can miss out on the opportunities OPEN provides to get out and about, make friends and develop new activities and passions. OPEN want to be able to engage with these young people and offer them somewhere to go, someone to talk to, and something to do. However, Norfolk is a rural and sparsely populated county and it remains difficult to engage young people in geographically isolated areas. Transport links are poor in most of the county and, often, young people aged between 11-19 cannot afford public transport. Those who have physical disabilities can face further challenges.
Gaining funds for the minibus would mean that OPEN can make the trip to the young people and pick them up outside of school hours, allowing them full access to their services before taking them home safely in the evening. This would have a dramatic and positive effect on the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable young people across our county.
This is what one young person said to OPEN Youth Trust to describe how he feels about wanting to get to OPEN and his struggles due to the lack of public transport:
“I would LOVE to be able to go to OPEN in the evenings. They do really cool stuff, it is great fun and loads of my Norwich friends go there. I really feel like I am missing out but I have no way of actually getting there, so please vote for OPEN and make this happen so that I can join my friends”.
OPEN has successfully got through stage one in the bidding process which is now open to the public to vote. Voting is easy; just follow this link register an email address or login with your Facebook account and cast your votes - you have until midday 21st November 2017.