All Saints’ Centre for vulnerable people in Norwich to close after 35 years

The All Saints Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found.
Photo by Simon Finlay. The All Saints Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
4:54 PM

A centre which has helped homeless and other vulnerable people for more than 35 years will close next week, despite rising demand for its services.

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The All Saints’ Centre, in a converted church opposite John Lewis in Norwich, provides a cafe and place to rest and socialise for dozens of people every day.

However, it has told its users that it will shut next Monday.

Its trustees blamed rising expenses, including rent, heat and light, a fall in people spending money in the centre, and difficulties securing grant funding.

They also said the Norwich Historic Churches’ Trust, from whom they rent the building, had been unable to agree a more affordable rent.

In a statement, the trustees said: “The trustees are naturally concerned for their faithful and committed members of staff who are losing their jobs at the end of the month, and also for their volunteers who will no longer be able to continue their service to the community at All Saints.

“One such volunteer has been involved every week for over 30 years and others have special needs and it is feared that other placements will not be available that are appropriate to their needs.

“All Saints’ has been part of the city of Norwich for 35 years, has evolved through the vision, faith, energy, unconditional love, commitment and sheer determination of a whole host of people and will leave a huge gap.

“For some, the closure will mean having nowhere to go that is warm, welcoming and offering somewhere to stay with no obligation; some have made this their 2nd home for countless years and for others it will be like losing its family.

“All Saints’ Centre has for many years administered the Food Voucher Scheme, whereby people can give vouchers instead of cash to people asking for money in and around Norwich and which recipients can redeem at All Saints’ Centre for nutritious food and hot drinks. This scheme will therefore be discontinued unless someone else is prepared to administer it from another venue.”

Janet Wyer, chaplain to the centre and chair of Norwich Central Churches Together will call an emergency meeting of its members to discuss what can be done to offer alternative facilities for those who rely on the centre.

Has All Saints’ Centre helped you? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk or phone 01603 772468.

10 comments

  • What would Jesus think of it all? Faith can move mountains and he would be thinking that this Sanctuary cafe is helping the dispossessed by supporting them and giving them helpful advice. On the Archbishop of Canterbury’s facebook, he advises, “A 21st century global church loves the poor and helps the victim. It stands for human dignity, challenges oppressors and supports victims”. All Saints has demonstrated that it assists the poor and has given them a refuge and yet this place is to close on Monday 30 June. Many people have had funding for various things in Norwich but it appears nothing for something such as this. Remember the old Norwich cathedral cafe which used to be at the front of the place and how busy it was. Perhaps just changing the way it is run just slightly would bring more revenue to the church. As mentioned in my previous comment, there is always a way, such as raising money for the floor with organised events or donating paints for the decorating, for example. There are enough sterile churches locked up for most of the time and they do not open their doors to the underprivileged of our society. It could easily be saved for its current purpose. Have you seen the homeless around the city? By going in there, I have found out what many of them have to endure and it is as if they are punished for being poor. Some of the things that have happened to some of them could happen to anyone through life events: divorce settlement to spouse, redundancy and illness. Please save All Saints' Sanctuary cafe as well as the other places I understand are closing too: St Michael at Plea, and St Jude’s.

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    Mary

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Absolutely agree! This is a disgraceful example of the 'powers that be' destroying something vital and good for the community and peoples' wellbeing, for no other reason apparently than finance, which in this case could be raised from other charitable trusts if they really wanted to. I sincerely hope that the Trustees concerned are not intending to sell it off for use as a bar, restaurant or club, as surely a consecrated church should stay so for ever to serve a greater humanitarianChristian purpose. Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury himself can save this place as he supports Christians doing good works.

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    Christian

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Why close something that is about Christ’s work and reaches out to the poor and people who find themselves in reduced financial circumstances? Surely £8000 can be raised for the floor by interested people through fetes and other events at All Saints’ Centre, and as for £14000 for the decorating, some of this work could be done by volunteer Christians, as a suggestion, which should reduce the cost significantly. Some people might be able to donate some money for the paints. I am surprised that All Saints’ Centre are charged any rent as it is a charity actually helping out many people who are marginalised. Closing such a place could cause yet more social problems in Norwich as there is an ever widening gap between the rich and poor. The Sanctuary Cafe actually helps to address a balance in Norwich and Jo Cook, the person who founded it in 1979, must have thought Norwich needed such a place then. It is more in need of such a place now. There aren’t many cafes carrying out Christian works by actively helping the homeless, giving them advice and other Christian works. I have also heard that St Michael at Plea and St Jude are also closing down and I am most surprised about this too. There are enough church buildings in Norwich which are generally closed but might hold some art exhibitions from to time. However, to find one that is actively helping people, such as the Sanctuary cafe is rare and invaluable. I really hope something can be done soon to keep this wonderful place open for everyone. There must be someone who can revoke this decision and preserve something which is doing a very good job for so many people.

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    Mary

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Don't worry...the big Society will reopen it...lol

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    marty r

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • This is a tragedy, but also an opportunity for a social enterprise to start up in a prime location. Otherwise it would make a great bar or club!

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    itsme73

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Paul I get your drift but disagree we have a council who are responsible for all that happens in our city ,that it ,whether good or bad ,and whatever your opinion. They have been a socialist utopia and a disaster down the years !

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    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Albert, is there anything that happens anywhere that isn't the fault of Norwich City Council?

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    Paul Cunningham

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Not happy my mum loved this place .yrs ago .I carried on going there with my family .so sad it's the end .no place in city .to be as comfy as this church .to relax ��

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    maureenmarney@aol.com

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • The Norwich historic churches trust are desperate to find uses for the many churches in their care and yet the can't reduce the cost of the lease a little, how dreadful that they can not be so charitable

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    blister

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • A council grant is required! they seem to find money for so many daft ideas !

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    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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