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Chance to say farewell to the All Saints’ Centre in Norwich city centre

PUBLISHED: 08:16 28 August 2014

People can say farwell to the former All Saints Centre and Sanctuary Cafe tomorrow.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

People can say farwell to the former All Saints Centre and Sanctuary Cafe tomorrow. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Former users of the All Saints’ Centre in Norwich city centre have been invited back to say farewell at a gathering and blessing tomorrow.

The day centre, based in a converted church in Westlegate opposite John Lewis, provided a cafe and place to rest and socialise every day for dozens of people including many homeless and vulnerable adults.

But, despite rising demand for its services, it closed at the end of June after 35 years, with the loss of five jobs.

Its trustees blamed rising expenses, including rent, heat and light, a fall in people spending money in the centre, and difficulties securing grant funding. They also said the Norwich Historic Churches’ Trust, from whom they rented the building, had been unable to agree a more affordable rent.

One of the trustees at the centre, Katherine Gray: “Since our closure we have been steadily clearing the premises ready to hand the building back to the Norwich Historic Churches’ Trust at the end of this month.

“But, as All Saints’ Church has been our home and a haven and sanctuary for so many for so long, we have no wish to leave without a final opportunity to say goodbye.

“I would therefore like to issue an invitation to anyone and everyone who has been connected with the centre, plus anyone who has read about us and is curious to see inside, to join us for a final gathering and blessing on Friday, August 29, at 2pm.

“Janet Wyer, our chaplain, is preparing a farewell for us and will lead the event and, although the organ will have gone, we plan to include a little music.

“Most of the seating has gone so you may need to stand and, although we have basic facilities, if you would like to stay for a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards, please, if you can, bring your own mug.

“I am reminded that the centre began with an empty building, a trestle table and a kettle and we will be leaving in a similar vein.

“Finally, I would like to say that, although we have lost our home, the spirit of All Saints’ Centre is still very much alive and the need for its unconditional welcome and love is greater than ever.”

Stella Eglinton, executive officer with the Norwich Historic Churches’ Trust, said that as soon as it took possession of the church, the trust would be looking for a new tenant.

For more information about becoming a tenant at the church, email stella.eglinton@norwich-churches-org

Are you a former user of the centre? If so, where you have gone for sanctuary since its closure? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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