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Church and Benjamin foundation join forces to give young people a brighter future

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The Benjamin Foundation’s Forward Court in Aylsham is home to young people on their journey to living independently. As part of this journey their Youth Support Worker Claire wanted to help the residents make meaningful use of their time, improve their life chances, re-engage them with their community and tackle issues of loneliness and isolation.

Through her research she deduced that the best way to promote engagement with the residents was through positive reinforcement and ongoing support and encouragement, as a result, the Go-Ahead project was born.

The Benjamin Foundation developed the programme of career coaching with the residents and Aylsham Parish Church funds the positive reinforcement component by purchasing supermarket vouchers for those residents successfully taking part in the scheme.

As part of the scheme residents have taken up roles gardening, volunteering in the community, engaged in training and education and progressed into employment. The vouchers have provided a much-valued encouragement and benefit to the young people who are all living on very low incomes.

Callum, Forward Court Resident said:

‘I’ve been volunteering at a clothes exchange project. I’ve made a new group of friends and I’m getting experience in the retail sector. I feel better about myself now because I have a more active life. I am getting unpaid work experience which will help me get a job in the future and the Go-Ahead vouchers motivate me because I can shop for myself.’

Claire Menear, Youth Support Worker at Forward Court said:

‘Our valued partners at Aylsham Church have helped to maintain the resident’s enthusiasm for the scheme. The positive reinforcement aspect to the scheme has been a source of pride for our residents making a constructive change in their lives.’

Revd Jack Branford, Curate at Aylsham Parish Church said:

‘We are incredibly proud to play a small part in this pioneering scheme. It is really encouraging to see the young people at Forward Court gaining such valuable experiences, improving their career prospects, and engaging so positively with the community. The money for the scheme has been taken from a fund in memory of our late Churchwarden Liz Jones who was a strong advocate for young people in the town. We are sure she would have been thrilled.’