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A team of 10 unemployed young people from Teesside has won funding from UK Steel Enterprise’s Community Support Fund to help a charity and put a smile back on the faces of people living with autism.

MAIN, a Middlesbrough-based charity that supports hundreds of children, young people and adults with autism, Aspergers Syndrome and other disabilities, recently lost its premises at very short notice and many of the users were devastated that the loss meant leaving behind some much-loved murals.

They had been created for MAIN by a team of unemployed young people on a Prince’s Trust Team Programme at Stockton Riverside College, also backed by UK Steel Enterprise. When a current Prince’s Trust Team heard about the enforced move and that the charity had suffered a second blow when it was defrauded of £10,000, they decided to step in.

Another appeal to UK Steel Enterprise, a long-term supporter of the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, won them £1,250 to buy materials and equipment to re-instate the murals as part of a project at MAIN’S new premises on the Riverside Industrial Estate.

The community projects are part of the 12-week programme that aims to develop the skills and experience needed to get the young people, aged between16 and 25, into employment.

Peter Taylor of UK Steel Enterprise said: “We have now supported around 25 teams with a total of around £42,000. The programmes not only help our young people into jobs but also support organisations that improve life for people living in one of our steel areas.

“The team has to present the project to us when they apply for funding and it helps to develop their communication, presentation and budgeting skills. They did a great job and we were happy to help them put things right for MAIN and all its users.”

MAIN supports people and their families with workshops, after school clubs, social events, short break services and training and also works to change society’s perception of autism and Aspergers.

Helen Jaques, MAIN’S Manager, said “We have been through a very difficult time and many of our users were upset at the loss of the murals.  It is absolutely fantastic that another Prince’s Trust Team and UK Steel Enterprise stepped in for a second time to help us. We are now settled in a great new venue and the team has taken care to re-create the murals as near to the originals as possible. Everyone is delighted.”

Graeme Ogle, Prince’s Trust Team Leader from Stockton Riverside College, said: “This has been an extra special community project for us.  The team has worked really hard on the murals, additional decorating, providing a computer and work station and in the garden at MAIN.  Three out of four of our young people go on to get jobs and the presentation to UK Steel Enterprise is a valuable part of their programme.”

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