Minister visits Lowestoft and Yarmouth

A pioneering scheme to transform a Yarmouth leisure complex and help hundreds of unemployed people find jobs was praised by a government minister yesterday.

A pioneering scheme to transform a Yarmouth leisure complex and help hundreds of unemployed people find jobs was praised by a government minister yesterday.

As Angela Smith toured Atlantis complex on Yarmouth seafront she said that a �6.5m project to provide hope for youngsters from the town should be a model for other communities across the country.

The minister for the voluntary, charity and third sector was shown how the new venture to run Atlantis has helped young people build up their confidence and skill sets during a major refit of the complex.

In June a social enterprise organisation Hospitality and Grow took over the running of the site - the first arrangement of its kind in the country.

The non-profit making group is now providing training to 15 people as they work in the complex's new look bars, nightclub and arcades.

In the next year the organisation will be taking on hundreds more young people as Atlantis expands when its 62 bedroom rooftop hotel opens, which will offer some rooms to people with special needs.

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Work on the hotel should start in six weeks and young people will be able to go on plastering, electrical and decorating courses during the work.

It is estimated that as well as creating much-needed jobs in the town, the social enterprise will pump in at least �2m a year into the local economy.

As Mrs Smith and the MP for Yarmouth Tony Wright toured Atlantis they met some of the people who have benefitted by receiving training at the complex.

Jodie Coldman, 20, told the mister that she had developed her confidence since training as a cleaner and she now hoped to start work at the complex.

She said: 'It is really lovely working here. I have received a lot of help.'

Mrs Smith said: 'I am hugely impressed by what has happened here. It is something that Yarmouth should be very proud of. I think you have a model here that could happen across the country.'

Hospitality and Grow has received some government funding and is seeking grants from businesses and other organisations for the �6.5 scheme.

Colin Abbott, director at Hospitality and Grow, said: 'By Making Atlantis a social enterprise we are putting the community first. We are trying to give people a purpose in life.'

Mr Wright said he was pleased he was able to show his ministerial colleague the benefits young people were gaining from the new venture.

After her tour of Atlantis, Mrs Smith visited the Lowestoft to see the work done by Waveney Crossroads, a charity which provides respite for carers in the area.

The charity received a �157,000 government loan from the Futurebuilders programme to renovate its new Crossroads Care building in London Road South, Lowestoft, which has enabled them to increase the number of days they offer to adults in need of care and to introduce new services to support carers.

The new building was opened in spring last year and has helped the charity to provide a stimulating environment for those being cared for as well as providing carers with the opportunity to take extended breaks and meet others in similar situations.

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