Future of Norwich centre saved

David BaleA drop-in centre in the heart of Norwich has begun a new era after more than �13,000 was promised during a fundraising campaign towards the costs of a rise in rent.David Bale

A drop-in centre in the heart of Norwich has begun a new era after more than �13,000 was promised during a fundraising campaign towards the costs of a rise in rent.

The All Saints' Centre appealed through the Evening News for help in fundraising earlier this year, and the money collected means its short-term future is secure.

To celebrate bells rang out from All Saints' Church, the home of the All Saints' Centre, this week and the Bishop of Norwich conducted a service of re-dedication.

The Christian group has signed a new lease at the church for five years and today pledged to continue to offer low cost food and hospitality to people in the city.

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Barry Furness, a trustee of the All Saints' Centre, said: 'Since the Evening News article went in we have had promises of �13,000, which will have greatly contributed to the additional costs from the rent increase.'

The centre in Westlegate offers a warm space and a home from home where people with very little can spend as much time as they want.

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It has a coffee bar offering light refreshments, a charity shop, a lending library of Christian books and also sells greetings cards and books.

Katherine Gray, a trustee of the centre, said: 'We have been very grateful for all the help we've got. We had a lot of anonymous donations, and even people who couldn't afford to give us any money, popped in and pleaded with us not to close. It's been very encouraging the number of people who have said they would miss us.'

During his service the Rt Rev Graham James, who is the centre's patron, described the centre as a living example of neighbourliness, and a Good Samaritan.

Meanwhile, John Lewis Norwich has donated and is fitting a new laminate floor as well as some new rugs to the centre, which has been running for 30 years and costs more than �1,000 each week to open.

As reported, the centre's future was uncertain earlier this year after the landlords, The Historic Churches' Trust, raised the rent by 75pc. The Historic Churches' Trust said previously it had been forced into the rent increase because the huge cost of maintaining its 18 churches was expected to reach �2m over the next 10 years.

The centre will be closed from 2pm today while the new floor is fitted, but plans to reopen on Monday.

People can visit the centre between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday,

For more information about All Saints' Centre visit www.allsaintsnorwich.org.uk.

Are you battling to save an historic building? Contact reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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