New project to tackle poverty

A NEW project has been launched to tackle poverty and social problems in East Anglia.The Regional Social Strategy is being spearheaded by the East of England Regional Assembly in an effort to reverse the difficulties experienced through unemployment, poor skills, discrimination, bad health and poverty.

A NEW project has been launched to tackle poverty and social problems in Suffolk.

The Regional Social Strategy is being spearheaded by the East of England Regional Assembly in an effort to reverse the difficulties experienced through unemployment, poor skills, discrimination, bad health and poverty.

Figures estimate one in six people living in the East of England live below the poverty threshold, 25 per cent of whom are pensioners and almost a quarter are children.

The strategy has eight targets, which include reducing income inequalities, promoting access to work, improving opportunities for children from disadvantaged families and also for adults through learning.

It also hopes to reduce social exclusion of older people and improve access to services for the disadvantaged.

Hilary Mansfield, chairman of the assembly's health and social inclusion panel, said: "The issues we face are challenging, but our objectives can be achieved by all of us, locally and regionally, from all sectors working together, to make a real difference to the lives of everybody in the East of England."

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Another project in Felixstowe, which was set up to prevent homelessness among 13 to 19-year-olds, has been hailed a success since its launch a year ago.

The Safe Move's project offers direct help to young people and their families to prevent or secure a safe move from their family home.

Suffolk Coastal District Council recognised the benefits of Safe Move and included the project in its homeless strategy.

David Sice, secretary for the Safe Moves partnership, said: "Over 70 per cent of the referrals we receive involve under 16-year-olds, so in our first year we have developed a network of contacts such as schools and youth clubs who can refer cases to us and we've also been involved in developing support groups for parents and peers."

Meanwhile, a report by the Suffolk Sustainability Appraisal Group revealed the number of empty shops in Suffolk towns were well below the national vacancy rate and said the county's town centres were in good retail health.

However, the report added only 11pc of new homes completed in the county fell within the category of affordable housing.

N What do you think should be done to tackle social and poverty in the county? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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