‘Where will we go now?’ - uncertain future for dozens as All Saints’ Centre in Norwich announces closure

The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Regular customers Audrey Stannard and Albert White. Photo by Simon Finlay. The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Regular customers Audrey Stannard and Albert White. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
9:26 AM

Dozens of people who rely on a centre for advice, support and friendship face an uncertain future after it announced it would close after 35 years.

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The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Manager. Karen Maidstone. Photo by Simon Finlay.The All Saints' Centre and Sanctuary Cafe which are due to close unless funding can be found. Manager. Karen Maidstone. Photo by Simon Finlay.

All Saints’ Centre, based in a converted church opposite John Lewis in Norwich, began in 1979 and offers homeless people and others a safe place to rest, socialise, and eat and drink.

It will shut on Monday, June 30.

Manager Karen Maidstone said up to 20 homeless people come every day, and pupils from Harford Manor School, for children with complex needs, use the cafe each week to help them learn about the society.

Albert White, who has been using the centre for 30 years, said: “It’s a lifeline for many people. They are all upset. Some of them can’t believe it. Other people have no idea what they will do. They have no-where to go.

“I will probably walk around the streets, Castle Mall, Chapelfield and the bus stop, but it won’t be as good as this place. It will be really missed. I have met a lot of people here.”

He added: “I like the people and I like the atmosphere. It’s my second home. There are some nice people here and the staff are wonderful. I get here about 3pm and we meet our friends and have a good old natter.”

Sylvia Sanders, 18, said the centre and its volunteers helped her during a five-month period when she was homeless.

She said: “It’s not only helping out with food. Personally, they have given me advice. It’s like a back up. I would come here to meet everyone. If there’s no-where else to go, there’s always someone at church.”

Another regular user said it was unique because it treated everyone equally, regardless of their class or situation, and did not question people.

In a letter to friends and supporters, the centre said it was facing rising rent, heat and lighting costs, and needed to find £8,000 to repair the floor and £14,000 for re-decorating.

It said that although the centre has seen more underprivileged and marginalised people coming through its doors in the last year, fewer people were spending money in its cafe, its main source of income, which is now losing £500 a week.

In a statement, the trustees said: “All Saints’ has been part of the city of Norwich for 35 years, has evolved through the vision, faith, energy, unconditional love, commitment and sheer determination of a whole host of people and will leave a huge gap.

“For some, the closure will mean having nowhere to go that is warm, welcoming and offering somewhere to stay with no obligation; some have made this their second home for countless years, and for others it will be like losing its family.”

The centre’s closure will also end the food voucher scheme, where people can give vouchers instead of cash to people asking for money in Norwich, unless another venue to prepared to administer it.

Can you help All Saints’ Centre? See allsaintsnorwich.org.uk, or contact admin@allsaintsnorwich.org.uk or 01603 633726.

Has the centre helped you? Contact newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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