A new youth project headed by officials of the North Lynn Discovery Centre has been awarded a lottery grant worth almost £350,000.
Three new youth workers will be appointed to lead the Whatyasay West Norfolk project, which is intended to support disadvantaged youngsters across the borough.
And trustees say the award fits with their vision for the future of the building, following recent concerns over its future.
Kevin Howard, chairman of the centre’s board, said: “It’s a significant investment in the young people of West Norfolk.”
The money is intended to cover the costs of the project for the next three years and officials say funding could be secured for another five if the initiative is successful.
The money will be used to employ a project manager and three youth workers, who will be based in Lynn, Downham and Hunstanton respectively.
The project is intended to train and support disadvantaged young people, as well as youngsters from rural communities, who will be trained in leadership, youth work and coaching.
It will also create a programme of youth activities for the area, covering areas including sports, employability skills and mentoring.
The announcement comes amid recent concerns over the future of the Discovery Centre, following the decision to withdraw the previous Open Access after school provision earlier this year.
An online petition was set up calling on the trustees to resolve the problems or resign and allow a new leadership group to take charge.
Mr Howard stressed that the new funding was not intended to reinstate that service, but was instead meant to establish a new service fitting in with the trustees’ vision as a venue to be used by all sections of the community.
He said work to refurbish the centre’s kitchen, transforming it into more of a cafe-style facility from which they hope to provide cooking lessons for families, lunch clubs and even meals on wheels provision for the elderly, is nearing completion.
And he believes that they are on course to turn things around, although he admits more work is needed to be done to regain public trust amidst “mixed” feedback on their work so far.
He said: “We have still got work to do to get people’s confidence back. It’s all very well me saying we’re going to do things, but when the doors start to open and people get involved, attitudes will change.”
The grant has been awarded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme.
More than 100 schemes across East Anglia have shared a total of over £4.2 million through that programme and its sister Awards for All scheme.
Lyn Cole, the fund’s grant making director for England, said: “So many local community organisations are enabling people and communities to grow together bringing positive changes to their lives and futures.
“It’s wonderful to hear the stories of how through these great projects people have overcome barriers, learned new skills and improved their lives.”