July 26 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Hopes that a centre which dozens of people rely on for advice, support and friendship could be saved have been dashed.
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 A lot of stuff is on the internet, and perhaps our model of running the cafe is probably a bit out of date now.”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.”
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