Dozens of teenagers are being helped back into education or jobs by a programme run by staff at a North Lynn community centre.
Officials estimate there are currently around 260 people in West Norfolk who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), out of around 1500 across the county as a whole.
But officials at the Discovery Centre in North Lynn estimate they have helped 80 young people back into full-time education or employment during the past year alone.
And programme manager Julie Chaplin vowed this week: “We’ll never quit. We know how vital this is for King’s Lynn. We’ll do it voluntarily if we have to.”
Most of the people helped by the centre have completed a programme called Talent Match, a lottery funded programme in which the Prince’s Trust works with local organisations to help unemployed young people overcome the barriers which are stopping them from pursuing training or work opportunities.
Mrs Chaplin said around 120 people have gone through the scheme which has funding for the next five years.
The centre has now launched a new programme, called Discovery Drop-In, which is aimed at 16-18 year olds and designed to give them skills to help them progress into further training or work.
Mrs Chaplin said: “The young people have generally not enjoyed their time at school so this is a chance for them to gain some qualifications and confidence and move towards gaining a job.
“There are work placements at the end of the course to put the youngsters in touch with employers and give them a chance of getting work.”
The rolling 32-week programme includes tuition in maths and English, as well as the chance to learn practical creative skills including woodwork, painting and decorating, needlecraft and arts.
Two of the programme’s particpants, 17-year-old Chelsea Mason and Shelby Mackender, 16, have painted a mural in a hut owned by the centre and used by the Hanseatic Union as part of the project.
And they have praised the help they have received from the scheme.
Chelsea said the staff were helping her towards her aspirations of studying psychology and becoming a school support worker.
She said: “I’ve got a little boy and you have to be 19 to go on a full-time course. This is the only part-time education I could get and it’s good. It gives me a break and time to actually learn something.”
Shelby has only been on the programme for two weeks, but said: “It’s brilliant. I love coming here. I’m now doing a football course and I’m coming down four times a week.”
Figures for the last quarter of 2014 estimated there were 74,000 people aged between 16 and 24 in East Anglia who are classed as NEETs.
Around 200 young people have taken part in the Discovery Centre’s programmes over the past year and Mrs Chaplin said many of them may have had problems at home, suffered bullying or made poor choices in their personal lives.
But she added: “We’re trying to be like a family for them to try to drive them forward.
“A lot of the young people who come here are very intelligent and articulate.”
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