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Centre points pupils in right direction

PUBLISHED: 11:30 03 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:30 03 July 2010

A PIONEERING centre aimed at supporting young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties is celebrating a successful first year as it officially opens its new home.

A PIONEERING centre aimed at supporting young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties is celebrating a successful first year as it officially opens its new home.

The Compass Centre uses art and music therapy and psychological support to help assist young people back into school.

The centre, opened at Edward Worlledge Junior School in September, has now moved to the refurbished former Waveney First School, in Belton.

Aimed at young people with a history of poor attendance, behaviour difficulties and a lack of engagement in school, it provides therapy alongside a creative curriculum to support pupils aged nine to 14.

Since opening last year it has supported three young people back into mainstream school and helped many others who otherwise may have had to be educated in high-cost residential placements.

The centre is run by Norfolk County Council, with funding from NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney for mental health and therapeutic support.

Therapeutic services are provided through Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust and the Silverwood Children and Families Centre.

The council invested £250,000 in refurbishing buildings at the centre, officially opened this week by director of children's services Lisa Christensen.

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust acting chief executive Rachel Newson said: "The trust is delighted to have the opportunity to be a partner in such an innovative and much needed local facility where a child can receive support for a whole range of needs, including their emotional development.

"The opportunity to get such a range of support all in one place while staying with or close to their families also has a lot of benefit for the child and their family in the longer term."

Parents and carers have been closely involved with the centre's work and have reported improvements in their children's attitudes, behaviour and confidence since they were referred.

The centre currently supports 15 young people on a full-time or outreach basis. Those who have used the centre have reported an improvement in their enjoyment of school and their relationships with peers.

One form of the therapy enables them to express their feelings and concerns through images and music, rather than words.

Belton division county councillor Gerald Cook said: "This is a brilliant resource for the east of the county and it is great to see the former Waveney First School being used to such good effect.

"I know that schools in the area have worked very closely with the council and health services to make this centre a success and it is great to see this area of the county trailblazing such a resource. It is already proving of huge benefit to the young people it supports.”

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