Seafront bid for children’s home

A CHARITY which already provides a range of services for young people in Great Yarmouth is looking to set up an independent school and children’s home in the town.

The school is the vision of the North Walsham-based Benjamin Foundation which already offers homes and access to social and training facilities for 16-25 year olds at the Aspire Centre in Broad Row.

The charity wants to transform former children’s services offices at 22 Euston Road into a residential home for looked-after children aged 12-16, for whom there is currently no provision in Yarmouth and not enough county-wide.

It says the building, close to the town centre and seafront, is large and entirely suitable for living, learning and leisure facilities for eight looked-after children - who otherwise could face living in a different county isolated from family and friends.

A planning application has been submitted to Great Yarmouth Borough Council which sets out the core overall aim of the project which is “to provide high quality care in a warm and caring environment where eight looked-after children aged 12 to 16 are supported in coming to terms with their past and current issues and begin to prepare for their future.

“The over-riding philosophy of Euston Road is that it should be child-centred in the way it works....In addition Euston Road will promote the value of education and therapy and ensure that the young people in our care are able to take best possible advantage of a ‘wrap around’ holistic support service.”

The building it adds, will be staffed by a manager and team of support workers 24/7.

Most Read

Matt Garrod, operational manager for housing and homelessness at the Benjamin Foundation said: “We’re working closely with Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services to develop the project, and are really excited about it’s potential. It’s an innovative and much-needed solution which we believe ideally reflects The Benjamin Foundation’s expertise and ethos.”

Around 20pc of Norfolk’s 970 looked-after children are sent to live beyond its borders, away from extended family and friends, through lack of local places. And with numbers likely to grow by 50 each year for the next three years, the situation is only likely to get worse. The proposed children’s home will be registered and inspected by Ofsted.

The Benjamin Foundation is lead by its founder and chief executive Richard Draper. He set up the charity in 1992 in honour of his son Ben who was killed in a motorbike accident and it helps hundreds of youngsters coping with bereavement, abuse or living on their own after being brought up in care.

Planners are seeking local views and expect to make a decision on the scheme which involves a change of use for the building by the end of the year.