Health project is a booming business

A HEALTH project which helps 11,000 young people a year has today been recognised as one of the fastest growing charities and businesses in Ipswich.

A HEALTH project which helps 11,000 young people a year has today been recognised as one of the fastest growing charities and businesses in Ipswich.

The Suffolk Young People's Health Project, aimed at 12 to 25-year-olds, was honoured at the Ipswich 100 Index event.

It was runner-up in the rankings after turnover rose by 619.5per cent between 2003 and 2005 second only to Used Trucks Limited, a St Peter's Street truck company which grew by 1,408pc.

It follows an announcement yesterday that businesses in Ipswich are booming - with Ipswich's ten biggest businesses having a turnover of nearly £1billion in 12 months.

The health project, based in Lower Brook Street, Ipswich town centre helps young people who have physical, social or emotional problems.

Users include asylum seekers and refugees who need advice, homeless people who need food, a shower and a set of clothes and young people who want advice from visiting nurses about contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

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Dawn Henry, chief executive of the charity, which has 11 staff and 20 volunteers ranging from 16 to 60 year olds said: “I am very surprised and absolutely delighted to have the health project recognised as one of the top performing companies in Ipswich.

“It is a tribute to all the hard work of the project's staff, volunteers and trustees.”

The project, part of the umbrella youth organisation 4YP, is a non-profit making body and is supported by groups like the Big Lottery Fund, donations and income from room hire, management and administrative fees and a series of fund-raising activities.

Jason Addison, sales manager of Used Trucks, said they had reached top spot by expanding into Cyprus, Poland, Malta and Africa, and that it got a lot of trade through their website.

NATHAN Gardiner said his outlook on life has changed enormously since he began volunteering at the health project two years ago.

The 18-year-old catering student shows children how to create healthy meals and gives talks to new visitors on what the centre does.

And he even gave a hip-hop style rap to businessmen at one event to showcase the project's work.

He said: “I've gained confidence since coming here as well as more life experience - and I've made friends by doing it.”

SUZANNE Garnham had not worked for five years before she began volunteering at the health project.

But spending two half-days a week there doing administrative duties and organising counselling sessions has helped her prepare for a return to employment.

The 46-year-old said: “It's helped me get back into work-mode. I love it here and it's very friendly. It's built my confidence and enabled me to meet young people.”

CLAIRE Lewis started as a volunteer a year ago after four years off work to raise a family.

The 41-year-old former diplomatic service policy officer has just been taken on as a part-time project administrator.

She said: “No day is the same here. And as a member of staff you feel highly valued.

“You get the support you need and when you've been out of the workplace that makes the transition easier.”

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