July 30 2014 Latest news:

Video: “Perhaps our model of running the cafe is a bit out of date” - little hope of reprieve for All Saints’ Centre in Norwich

The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Regular customers Audrey Stannard and Albert White. Photo by Simon Finlay. The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Regular customers Audrey Stannard and Albert White. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Thursday, June 26, 2014
9:21 AM

Hopes that a centre which dozens of people rely on for advice, support and friendship could be saved have been dashed.

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The All Saints’ Centre, which is run from a converted church opposite John Lewis, announced it will close on Monday because of financial difficulties.

The centre offers a space where shoppers, homeless people and others can socialise, rest and eat and drink.

The number of vulnerable people using the centre has increased, but the number of people spending money in the cafe, which generates 70pc of its income, has fallen and it now makes a £500 weekly loss.

Treasurer Michael Hope said: “We just can’t do it with falling revenue. That’s the really big problem and that’s a big hole to fix. Like any retail thing, it is judged on a daily basis and the cash coming in, and that’s why we have had to close the thing down.”

He said funding organisations were more inclined to support individual projects, rather than pay for on-going running costs.

He added: “The cafe culture in Norwich has expanded greatly in the last year or two, and that has had a great impact on our revenue, and shopping footfall in Norwich has changed as well. A lot of stuff is on the internet, and perhaps our model of running the cafe is probably a bit out of date now.”

The centre said it had been unable to negotiate lower rent from the Norwich Historic Churches Trust.

The Bishop of Norwich had held discussions with the trust about the church building returning to the diocese, but the trust rejected the proposal.

Felicity Hartley, vice chairman of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, said: “He did suggest it was a possibility but it really did not get any further. We need rental from our churches, and if we gave one of our churches up we would lose some rental.

“All the money we get is ploughed back into looking after the churches.”

Norwich South MP Simon Wright said there was a “very powerful case” to be made for the bishop’s proposal.

He said: “It is very disappointing the decision has proceeded to close at the end of the month. I was able to see for myself that this is a very warm and welcoming and non-judgemental centre that brought in lots of different people from different walks of life.”

What does the centre mean to you? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

6 comments

  • Christian, that’s a great idea and one that I would support.

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    Mary

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • The rent mentioned in the article that is supposed to be used for repairing the churches is surprising. I understand the people running it have paid rent but it has not gone up and is now unaffordable for them. If you close it down, there won’t be any rent paid and it appears the floor that needs repairing as well as the decorating are outstanding in any case. The current building work on the luxury flats next door might well have affected trade. I assume the trustees are voluntary and so all the money received would go towards the upkeep of the church. How about some Christian organisation starting up a fund with volunteer professional accountants to buy it back for the diocese, and use it for its current purpose?

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    Christian

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • All Saints' Centre should be returned to the Bishop of Norwich who can then use it as a Sanctuary cafe and for services. He would be then in a position to raise funds for the church and ensure they are ploughed straight back into it to make good any repairs. He then would be able to change some things to make it more profitable, and if it is part of the diocese, he would not have to pay rent. There are enough corporate places in Norwich as it is and if the Bishop of Norwich wants The Sanctuary cafe returned to the diocese, then this should take place without further delay

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    Mary

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • With regard to Lucy's comment: Isn't the whole point of a place like this to have a social meeting place for people who need one? If she finds this 'too intimidating' perhaps try meeting your friends at one of the more noisy upmarket establishments in Norwich. I'm sure this will be just as intimidating, especially when you get the bill! as well!. As regards the comment from the vice president Felicity Hartley of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust,- "All the money we get is ploughed back into looking after the churches" well if that's the case, where is the evidence of using the rental they have been getting to look after this one? Why is it not as important as any other church on their list, considering its social and community function? Personally I cannot understand a Church Trust charging rent in the first place and I think you should return it to the Bishop of Norwich, who is after all ordained to deal with Christian and community issues. He could then keep it as a sanctuary café and would be in a better position to raise funds for it, rather than a collection of individuals who are only interested in 'commercially viable projects'. It is after all a house of God.

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    Christian

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • 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 the Sanctuary cafe. The comment about it being most intimidating is most surprising as it is one of the most homely and relaxed places in Norwich. Criticising people for using it as a social club is beyond belief, and in any restaurantcafe anywhere you get groups of people meeting for chat. I have seen those people who have various struggles in their lives using it for a chat and there is nothing wrong with this. I have also seen a member of staff making these people feel welcome. I can think of some places where the word intimidating might be appropriate where alcohol is involved but not in there.

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    Mary

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • It is a shame this facility is closing, but as with all commercial ventures it has to be profitable. I used to use the centre , but found what was a nice venue for a cup or tea, became a very noisy one. I know the vunerable need a place to eat and feel safe, but a small minority were treating it as their "social club" I am not alone in this I have spoken to others who tried to support the centre, Many said they found it too intimidating. Perhaps if a better balance could be reached. People may return.

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    lucy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

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

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