Café that was Norwich ‘jewel’ closes

01 August 2014

DENISE BRADLEY

No place to go: Jon Moore, one of the users of the All Saints' Centre in Norwich, who is upset about its closure

No place to go: Jon Moore, one of the users of the All Saints' Centre in Norwich, who is upset about its closure

A POPULAR day-centre, which provided a café and place of rest for shoppers as well as for homeless and vulnerable people, has closed after 35 years.

Trustees of the All Saints' Centre, which is housed in a redundant church in Norwich citycentre, blamed the closure on rising costs.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, who had offered to lease the building through the diocese, said: "It's a matter of enormous regret that such a wonderful ministry in the heart of the city has had to come to an end." In a letter to its five staff, who lost their jobs, and to the volunteers who worked there, he wrote: "It has been a jewel in the life of Norwich, giving hospitality to anyone who entered its doors. There has been a truly open welcome, and that has only been possible because of the dedicated staff and volunteers who made it what it has been for so many years."

In a statement, the trustees said that the centre had "evolved through the vision, faith, energy, unconditional love, commitment, and sheer determination of a whole host of people, and will leave a huge gap". The trustees also said that they had also faced difficulties securing funding, and had been unable to agree a more affordable rent with the building's owners, the Norwich Historic Churches' Trust.

In a letter to friends and supporters on the centre's website, the trustees' spokeswoman, Katherine Gray, said that it was facing rising rent, heat, and lighting costs, and needed to find £8000 to repair the floor, and a further £14,000 for redecorating.

Although more underprivileged and marginalised people had been coming through the centre's doors in the past year, the letter said, fewer people were spending money in the café, its main source of income. This was now losing £500 a week. The letter continued: "The trustees have explored every avenue they know to save this special place."

A customer, Sheila Amies, from Norwich, told the Eastern Daily Press: "I feel absolutely gutted about it closing. It's a place where you can meet people, and there's nowhere like it."

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