‘Sizewell C can deliver social good for Suffolk’

Sizewell C can deliver social good, says Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk Picture: EDF ENERGY/SIZEWELL...

Sizewell C can deliver social good, says Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk Picture: EDF ENERGY/SIZEWELL C/NICOLE DRURY/IBC - Credit: EDF ENERGY/SIZEWELL C/NICOLE DRURY/IBC

The proposals for Sizewell C could play a big role in addressing economic and social issues in Suffolk, says Inspire Suffolk chief executive Terry Baxter.

Earlier this month Suffolk Community Foundation released the latest Hidden Needs Report for the county. It’s a hard read but discloses parts of Suffolk I know well through the work we do at Inspire Suffolk.

It reveals that relative deprivation relating to; education, housing, and the accessibility of services, are the most concentrated forms of deprivation in Suffolk.

The proportion of young people staying on in education after age 16 is an important measure for deprivation. Those who leave school and are not in education, employment or training (‘NEET’) face particularly high risks of disadvantage.

*Educational deprivation (specifically the IMD’s ‘Children and Young People’ Subdomain) has been one the most concentrated types of deprivation in Suffolk since the 2005 IMD. Since the 2015 IMD, Suffolk has been over-represented among England’s most deprived neighbourhoods for education. That is, in 2015, 18.4% of Suffolk neighbourhoods were in the most 10% educationally deprived. By 2019, this had fallen to 14.5% - an important improvement, but it still means that educational deprivation in Suffolk remains disproportionately high.

This third report highlights existing inequalities in our county and stresses the need to work together to overcome these challenges. This is the work we do day in day out to address and help young people find a route back into society.

The research department at University of Suffolk has done a great job once again in shining a light on the areas of deprivation in what is seen as a wealthy county.

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And it is, in some areas, a second home to some a first to many others who can afford it. But how do we address the inequalities? How do we begin to level up the county and prioritise the hidden needs that exist in Suffolk?

We need, now even more than before, a vital catalyst in addressing particular economic and social issues and prioritising the hidden needs that exist within Suffolk. I believe that Sizewell C, the proposed new power station in Suffolk, has a big role to play in helping address this.

Sizewell C would deliver thousands of local jobs but most importantly would offer some of those furthest from employment a chance to reconnect with society.

The construction runs for about a decade and the project want to recruit as many local people as possible. Once the station is operational they will need 900 people – that’s sustainable long terms jobs for our children.

Inspire Suffolk has worked with Sizewell C for over a year now. And I mean work together, they do not simply donate to our charity but they work with us to find sustainable ways of improving the life chances of young people in the county.

Through our work together I have been able to visit Hinkley point C in Somerset. That is the sister station of Sizewell and is four years into construction. There are over 600 apprentices working on the site and they have exceeded their target of local employment with 40% of the workforce coming from the local area.

I agree with the points made in the Hidden Needs report that organisations need to come together to address the issues of the county and that’s what we are doing. Sizewell C is working with us to offer an accessible pathway for young people seeking a meaningful career. A chance to better themselves, a chance to get on in life.

Here in Suffolk we are already preparing young people for the opportunities Sizewell C would deliver. Thanks to the project, a cohort of 40 people (16-25yrs) not in training or education will receive training in welding and fabrication or broader training on the Clean Energy Sector in the region with Inspire Suffolk and East Coast College.

Welding is an extremely well paid career and a trade that is in demand by many industries.

The programs will start early next year and raise aspirations of young people from the local communities, give them insight into some available career options and support them on their journey to work at Suffolk’s proposed new power station which will deliver employment for thousands of local people. Inspire Suffolk will run the training with support from East Coast College in Lowestoft and Sizewell C.

We are so pleased that Sizewell C continues to motivate our young people by offering these courses through Inspire Suffolk. It’s vital that we use these opportunities to raise aspiration whilst giving our young people key insights into a sector that will not only develop key skills but give crucial pathways into employment.

This is life changing for the young people we work and will be vital in addressing some of the hidden needs in our county.

*Data gathered from the Suffolk Community Foundation Hidden Needs Report 2020

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