Campaigners want to turn Norwich’s Silver Rooms into a community centre

Campaigners have launched a bid to take over a popular Norwich day centre to try to safeguard its future by opening it up to the whole community.

Norfolk County Council has put forward the Silver Rooms venue in Silver Road, north Norwich, for closure as part of an overhaul of services for older people.

The decision sparked a Evening News campaign and a fight from pensioners who enjoyed using the facilities to save them, while the council also promised to provide replacement services and keep friendship groups together at other venues in the city. Now a new initiative, backed by local people, ward councillor Julie Brociek-Coulton and former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, is looking at trying to take over the venue and turn it into the Silver Rooms community centre.

Backers hope the facility will become a community enterprise open to people by early next year.

But they are keen to drum up support for the idea among people of all ages, and a meeting is planned at the venue on Saturday, March 19 between 10am and 4pm. Mrs Brociek-Coulton said: 'We really hope that the local community will join in with our consultation, so we can really have the chance to make the Silver Rooms a true community resource. It is great to see this day happening after fighting for 18 months to keep the Silver Rooms open.'

The group wants to take up the 'Big Society' baton to open up a community centre to provide a safe and secure resource for people of all ages to meet, be entertained and learn. The open day is all about listening to local people, hearing their ideas and how they would like to see a community centre develop.

Questionnaires will be scattered around the Silver Rooms for visitors to register their views and members of the organising team will be on hand to hear views and answer any questions.

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There will also be an electronic newsletter which will keep people informed of ideas as they develop.

The day will also be about having a bit of fun, providing some refreshments as well as a vision of what the community centre could offer.

Among activities also taking place, will be puppet making with staff from the Norwich Puppet Theatre between 10am and 2pm and the chance to have a go at animation courtesy of Community Film Makers Uni-Q Pictures.

There will also be a caf� to get a cup of tea and a pastry.

Information gleaned from the open day will be used to put together a business plan detailing how the new community centre will be financed and run.

Dr Gibson said: 'It would be a tragedy not to accept the possibility of turning this building into a community centre for the people run by the people. What a challenge it offers the Big Society - lets be having you.'

How would you like to see the Silver Rooms developed? Write to Evening News Letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email