Charity seeks old clothes instead of cash

A CHARITY, aware that donors are facing hard times, is appealing for old clothes rather than cash to fund an urgently-needed project for young people.The Benjamin Foundation-run Carpenters Arms is trying to raise �15,000 to convert a derelict barn behind its North Walsham premises.

A CHARITY, aware that donors are facing hard times, is appealing for old clothes rather than cash to fund an urgently-needed project for young people.

The Benjamin Foundation-run Carpenters Arms is trying to raise �15,000 to convert a derelict barn behind its North Walsham premises.

The extra space would virtually double the size of the youth drop-in centre, which gives 11-to-25-year-olds somewhere to socialise and get information in a supervised and alcohol-free environment.

The Friends of the Benjamin Foundation have found a dealer who will pay �400 per tonne for clothes, shoes, bags and bed linen and the group is appealing to the public to have an early spring clean and donate unwanted items to the cause.


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Approximately 150 young people use the centre every week, according to manager Richard Amies.

There were hardly any alternative meeting places and it kept many of them from congregating in the street where they risked upsetting residents and shoppers.

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'One of the things that holds us back and restricts what we can do is that there is so little space for people to cram into - we are bursting at the seams. The extra capacity will make a huge difference and is desperately needed,' he said.

Some young people, especially girls, walked on by when they looked through the window and saw the crowds inside.

The extra space would also help the Foundation's bid to extend the Carpenters Arms' opening hours until 10pm, three times a week.

The landlord had agreed to repair the barn's roof and make it water-tight. Mr Amies said he had raised about �1,500 from grant-giving bodies which, together with the clothes cash, would help decorate, furnish, equip it and install insulation and heating so that the space could be used throughout the year.

'It would also give us somewhere to take anyone who wants to talk about a problem,' said Mr Amies. 'At the minute we just have to stand with them in the kitchen.'

There are also plans to transform an adjoining derelict courtyard into an attractive sitting area.

He would like the work to be finished this year so that a celebration to mark the Carpenters Arms' 15th anniversary could be held in the converted barn.

The Foundation took over the centre in September 2007 from the town's churches which launched and ran it for many years.

Richard Draper, the Foundation's chief executive, urged the community to support the appeal. He said: 'Since the Carpenters Arms became a part of The Benjamin Foundation's family of services it has become really important to us. It is already delivering an expanded service to meet the needs of young people in North Walsham.

'The refurbishment of the barn will be another crucial step along the way, nearly doubling the space that we have to work in with young people. The support of the good people of North Walsham and the surrounding area is critical to us in achieving this ambition.'

�Donations can be old but should be in good repair. Shoes should be bagged separately and items can be left at the Carpenters Arms, 18 Market Street, preferably on a Thursday. The centre is open from Monday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm, and on Fridays, 10am to 7pm.

Anyone unable to take along donations can ring Jenny Harmer on 01692

406172 to arrange collection. Mrs Harmer will also collect unsold items from jumble

sales. She is seeking sponsors and fellow runners for the appeal to join her in the 10K Grand East Anglia Run at King's Lynn on May 3.

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