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New manager outlines future aims for Norwich street worker charity

PUBLISHED: 17:08 18 March 2011

Suzi Heybourne, the new manager of the Magdalene Group, based in King Street, Norwich.; photo by Adrian Judd

Suzi Heybourne, the new manager of the Magdalene Group, based in King Street, Norwich.; photo by Adrian Judd

Archant Norfolk 2011

The new manager of a Norwich charity which helps street workers is hoping its work will reach more people than ever before as it embarks on new projects this year.

The Magdalene Group’s new manager Suzi Heybourne joined the charity last September, and after several months of learning about the charity’s work and what its clients want, she is hoping to forge ahead with a range of projects.

The charity, launched in Norwich in 1993 to support street workers and give them the chance to change their lives, runs a drop-in service from its base in King Street where women can rest, talk about their needs and find help. There is a free hot meal, as well as confidence-building sessions, counselling, help with housing problems and gentle exercise.

This is currently held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm, but the Magdalene Group is soon hoping to introduce an evening drop-in session.

Mrs Heybourne said: “One of the first things I did was ask the women how they would like it to be run. They came up with their own charter.

“They also said they would like to come to drop-in sessions in the evenings, so that is something we are working towards.”

Mrs Heybourne also wants to see the Magdalene Group work alongside other organisations and businesses. Already the charity has set up links with the Shuropody store in London Street to offer some footcare sessions to street workers.

Mrs Heybourne said: “One or two of the women talked about how much their feet hurt, after being on the streets all night, and so we looked into offering some chiropody. It’s a non-judgemental way of saying to the women that while we are not supporting what they are doing, we do support them as individuals.”

Currently, the group’s outreach team goes out one night a week to try to build relationships with the street workers and let them know about the support and help on offer, as well as offering them tea and coffee and condoms. The group wants to increase this to two nights, but is in need of some male volunteers who can drive and provide extra security for the female outreach teams.

More information about the Magdalene Group is available on 01603 610 256, or online at www.magdalenegroup.org.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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