What it is: Magic Matrix, north Norfolk

Goals: To bring together looked-after young people from rural or isolated communities

Funding: Finance is provided by Norfolk Children’s Services. The young people are considering applying for a YouthBank grant

As Norfolk moves towards the development of integrated children’s services, the youth sector will have to work more closely with other professionals, such as social workers. And the Magic Matrix youth group in north Norfolk is a good example of this kind of joined-up working, in this case to tackle the social isolation of young people living in care.

Magic Matrix, which was named by the young people themselves, is for 13- to 17-year-old looked-after young people. The club offers access to youth workers who provide activities for young people, as well as social workers who understand the care system.

The group allows young people to participate in new activities, access opportunities and meet young people with similar life experiences.

Elaine Robertson, district youth worker for north Norfolk, says: “The project is a team approach with the social services and we work together to reach out to young people.”

Isolation, in terms of geography and status, can lead to low self-confidence, so the monthly meetings also aim to give members a chance to improve confidence and develop social skills in a safe group while having fun.

Opportunities for looked-after young people to come together and socialise are few and far between. The project, which was set up a year ago, has seen membership steadily increasing, with nearly half of all looked-after young people in north Norfolk regularly attending.

Graham Hanson, head of Norfolk youth services, says: “With youth work delivery in Norfolk focused on enabling young people to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, this kind of integrated working is set to be at the heart of Norfolk’s emerging children’s services.”

Published in Young People Now, 3/8/05 – click here for original.