Princess Anne visited the MyPlace development, on Bethel Street in Norwich, which opened two years ago and provides 40 high quality self-contained flats for young people as well as training and support facilities.
She had the opportunity to look inside the flat of resident Paige Murphy and see a cookery training session in action, before meeting staff, residents, board members, patrons and civic dignitaries, signing a visitors book and unveiling a commemorative plaque.
After showing the Princess around her flat, Paige, aged 19, said: “I have been here for seven months and it provides a breath of fresh air that every teenager needs. I told the Princess about my college child care training and about my work in a canteen and how the YMCA has supported me. It was a memorable occasion and one that I am sure I will be telling my children about in years to come.”
Princess Anne saw a cookery training session take place in the specially-designed training kitchen at MyPlace. The session on cost-effective ways to decorate cakes, was run by support worker Jane Graham. Young residents are also offered a short Joy of Food course at MyPlace, run by Norfolk County Council.
Jane said: “The course aims to help teach the young people basic cooking skills and how to prepare good food economically. We cover things such as making a stir fry, roast dinner and pizza as well as food hygiene. The Princess was genuinely interested in the young people who were involved and what we do with them. She spoke to each and every one of them.”
YMCA Norfolk support worker, Nico Van Rooyen, also met the Princess and told her all about the Work Club he runs at MyPlace to help young people gain the skills and confidence needed to gain employment.
“Many of the young people we work with may have the skills to work but lack the experience and confidence needed in interview situations. It was brilliant to meet the Princess and she was very interested in our work helping young people into employment and independence,” said Nico.
YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting welcomed guests including YMCA Norfolk patrons, board members, staff, residents and civic and city leaders.
“MyPlace provides 40 vital units of accommodation for young people as they try to get themselves to a place where they can build a future for themselves,” said Tim. “It is a place where they become strong mentally, physically and spiritually. A place where they become economically active, contributing to their families and society at large. A place to grow and develop where there is always someone to turn to for advice and guidance.
“But despite this, and our other facilities for up to 280 people every night, we are not close to meeting the needs of vulnerable young people in Norfolk. So we are redoubling our efforts this year, increasing the number of homes we can offer young people at rents that are affordable as they enter employment but with a safety net to ensure help is at hand if they hit any bumps along the way,” said Tim.
Pictured from the top, The Princess Royal with YMCA Norfolk residents during some cookery training, middle Paige Murphy shows the Princess Royal her room at My Place, above, the Princess meets YMCA Norfolk CEO Tim Sweeting and chairman Richard Pennington and, right, The Princess Royal unveils the plaque watched by YMCA Norfolk president General the Lord Richard Dannatt.
All pictures by Julia Holland