A charity which supports adults with a range of disabilities is celebrating a “new lease of life” after New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership awarded it a grant of £250,000.
Centre 81 in Great Yarmouth will now be able to go ahead with a move to new premises early this year and further develop the skills and employability of the disabled people, for whom it is represents a lifeline.
The grant was awarded via the LEP’s Growing Places Fund towards the total project cost of £1.5m and will have a “significant socio-economic impact”.
It is expected the project will create 15 full-time-equivalent jobs and safeguard 45 existing jobs and 20 voluntary positions, as well as supporting eight or more apprenticeships and eight or more training/research placements each year.
Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, said the funding would mean “a new lease of life and a really positive future” for the charity, which cannot operate from its existing base for much longer.
“This grant from the Growing Places Fund has been absolutely crucial in helping us to achieve our ambition of acquiring a new home,” she said. “It’s not simply the financial contribution towards our £1.5million project, which is significant, but also the encouragement and confidence it gives other funders.
“It will go towards the purchase and conversion of a large building in Great Yarmouth. This will give us the space we need to provide our members with the modern facilities they deserve, support even more disabled people and their family carers, and secure the future of our charity by enabling us to increase our income.”
Centre 81 operates a skills and activities centre for more than 80 adults with a range of disabilities from its current base in Tar Works Road. It also has a fleet of 11 fully accessible minibuses that provide a door-to-door community transport service for more than 800 people in the borough.
The charity is planning to sell its site and buy a building in Southtown Road currently trading as a furniture store.
Part of the project is to establish Centre 81 as a Centre of Excellence, supported by the University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences’ research department. Centre 81 will also work in partnership with East Coast College, the Clinical Commissioning Group and Norfolk County Council Adult Social Care.
Iain Dunnett, senior Growing Places Fund coordinator, said the LEP was seeing more grant applications from the voluntary and community sector as it looked to adopt a more business-led approach.
The huge challenges faced by this sector at local and national level were recognised in the Sector Skills Strategy for East Anglia and growth in these services was essential in meeting an ever-increasing demand.
“Through moving to new premises, Centre 81 will be able to help raise the skills of its members and improve the employability of people whose potential is often overlooked,” said Mr Dunnett.
“This will have a significant local socio-economic impact, particularly for this client group in Great Yarmouth and its surrounding area.”
If anyone would like to contribute to the project, they should contact Diana Staines at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01493 852573.
For more information, contact Richard Balls, communications executive at New Anglia LEP at email@example.com