Poverty amid rural idyll

WORRYING levels of social deprivation in Suffolk are hidden behind the county’s picture- postcard image, a charity has warned.

Severe pockets of poverty in Suffolk are on a level with the most challenging across the country and a youth organisation working with thousands of the county’s most vulnerable young people is at the heart of tackling the issue.

The youth project, 4YP, based in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Hadleigh and Felixstowe, offers opportunities to the most vulnerable young people aged between 12 and 25 from the most disadvantaged parts of the county.

Chief executive Dawn Henry said young people were suffering severe deprivation in Ipswich and desperately needed frontline and innovative help in dealing with issues including homelessness, struggles with money and drugs and alcohol.

In the last year the number of people accessing the organisation’s services had dramatically increased, according to Ms Henry. From April 2009 to April this year a total of 1,643 sessions were given to young people, up 17% from the previous year.

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She said the need was similar to other impoverished areas of the UK but it was hidden in Suffolk by the county’s picturesque image.

“We are succeeding in helping young people in some of the poorest sections of our community, and are making a real difference to young people’s lives,” she said.

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“But without additional funding to meet this increased demand for youth workers and counselling, pressure continues to be placed on the service and the waiting list. We offer youth worker support, and counselling for depression, anger management, anxiety, relationship difficulties, alcohol and money problems.

“There continues to be an incredible increase in demand by young people for the charity’s counselling services.”

From its offices in Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, 4YP offers frontline services, including counselling, sexual health advice and check ups with a nurse, help managing money, life and social skills as well as shower facilities for the young homeless, cooking on a budget for young parents and support preparing CVs and interview techniques to help get into work.

At Suffolk Young People’s Health Project’s annual meeting in Ipswich Stephen Singleton, chief executive of the Suffolk Foundation, echoed Ms Henry’s concerns.

He said: “Over the past five years we have discovered that there is just as great a need here as there is across the country, something that 4YP knows very well. 4YP has been working in this area for over a decade. There has never been a greater demand for young people to access independent counselling, drop-in facilities and health and well-being services.”

Cheques covering donations to 4YP’s work can be sent to Dawn Henry, chief executive, SYPHP, 14 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AP.

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