Norwich family contact centre to close

A centre which has supported hundreds of separated families over the past 16 years is set to close.

Trinity Contact Centre provides somewhere where children, often whose parents are going through a divorce, can meet up with absent family members in a safe and neutral environment.

Over the years, the centre, based at Trinity Church Centre, Acres Way, Thorpe Marriott, has helped families from all across Norfolk.

The volunteer-run centre is due to close in September this year due to staffing issues.

Linda Morgan, centre coordinator, said: 'There are several positions we need filling but we can't fill them - some volunteers to do office paperwork, two people on the Saturday morning to run the centre, and a chairman. We've run out of people we can ask.

'The centre has been very important. When couples go to court during divorce proceedings, the children often don't get to see the parent they are not living with. The centre gives them the chance to see that parent.'

The centre, which is a registered charity, usually relies on 12 volunteers and is open every other Saturday from 10am to 12.30pm.

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Families are referred to the centre through the courts and solicitors via social services.

There are currently 21 families on its books and the centre has seen children as young as one-week-old babies.

The last Saturday morning session is due to be held on September 10.

There will be a public meeting on June 1 where the management committee will agree to dissolve the centre.

'It will be greatly missed in Norfolk because there's not going to be as many centres for families to go to,' said Ms Morgan. 'If a like-minded contact centre or organisation came forward, they could continue the centre in another form.'

There are other contact centres in Norwich - the Norwich Family Contact Centre and St Mary's Contact Centre - which are not closing.

Tessa Kirby, who lives in Norwich, said she was 'saddened' by the news of the forthcoming closure of Trinity Contact Centre.

She said: 'The contact centre has provided my six-year-old daughter with a neutral and safe environment for her to enjoy time with her father.

'The volunteers work hard and I have appreciated the support and respect that they have shown us.

'Sadly for the children and parents involved, there are very few contact centres within Norwich and this closure will mean there are even fewer places for safe and supervised contact to take place between families.'

The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 1 at 7.30pm at Trinity Church Centre.

Are you trying to save a vital service in the area where you live? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email