Former Jubilee Hall in Norwich to reopen as £2m community hub

YMCA Norfolk's Tim Sweeting (left), the Bishop of Norwich (right) Lord and Lady Dannatt (centre) and Phillip Macdonald.

YMCA Norfolk's chief executive officer Tim Sweeting (left), the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich (right) together with Lord and Lady Dannatt (centre) and Phillip Macdonald, chair of trustees, at the new YMCA centre on Aylsham Road. - Credit: Supplied by YMCA Norfolk

A former hall once used by war veterans and their families which has been closed for years is to reopen next month as an exciting £2m hub for the whole community run by YMCA Norfolk.

Jubilee Hall on Aylsham Road, Norwich, was once used by the Royal British Legion but has become a target for vandals since it closed its doors in 2014, despite a hard-fought campaign to keep it open.

The building, which was bought in 2015 by the Lind Trust, was taken over by YMCA Norfolk, which has been working to breathe new life into the building as a multi-purpose community hub.

The Jubilee Hall, Aylsham Road, Norwich looks set to close.

The former Jubilee Hall on Aylsham Road which was once used by the Royal British Legionj.

The new centre is set to open on April 12 and will offer a range of services for the whole community with a particular focus on families, including a day care nursery, café and soft play centre for 0-11 year olds.

An artist's impression for the new look Jubilee Hall. Pic: YMCA.

Artists impressions of how the new YMCA centre might look. - Credit: YMCA

Ahead of its official opening, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, was welcomed on Thursday, March 25 to dedicate and commission the brand-new YMCA centre as one of the first visitors to the building.

Tim Sweeting, YMCA Norfolk's chief executive, said: “It was a fantastic privilege to show Bishop Graham around our new centre alongside our President, General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, and Lady Philippa Dannatt, Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk.“

YMCA Norfolk chief executive Tim Sweeting outside the charity's John Drake House facility next to Norwich Bus Station.

YMCA Norfolk chief executive Tim Sweeting outside the charity's John Drake House facility next to Norwich Bus Station. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

"Our new building is one of which we are extremely proud and are beyond excited to open its doors to the public, to share YMCA's community-enhancing mission with members of the Norwich and Norfolk community.“

"We are confident that our nursery, cafe, soft play and staff offices will bring an abundance of hope and a sense of community to the area - a vision shared by all staff and supporters of YMCA Norfolk."

Bishop Graham was given a tour of the purpose-built facilities, including Muddy Puddles Nursery, a 90-place Ofsted registered nursery.

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The nursery will provide a mix of funded and non-funded places to ensure that families from less advantaged backgrounds are able to enjoy the childcare facilities, helping YMCA Norfolk to fulfil the mission of the project to bring a long-lasting and sustainable presence to support the local community in this under-resourced area of the city.

As part of the Bishop Graham’s visit, he was among the first to see the newly installed Explorers Soft Play Centre, designed for children to enjoy playing in a safe area adjacent to the community-focused café, Williams’ Kitchen.

The café at the new YMCA community hub, at the site of the former Jubilee Hall in Aylsham Road, Norwich.

The café at the new YMCA community hub, at the site of the former Jubilee Hall in Aylsham Road, Norwich. - Credit: YMCA Norfolk

Bishop Graham said: “It was my delight to dedicate YMCA Norfolk’s new community hub this morning. 

"May it flourish as it demonstrates the love of Jesus in supporting young people and families to build firm foundations and experience life in all its abundance.”

The café forms the centre of the hub, which visitors will enter into directly, intended to provide a welcoming and safe space for all members of the community - where they can enjoy high-quality food and drinks. 

In addition, the Hub is the new base for the YMCA Norfolk offices, enabling staff members and the management team to also be based on-site.

During the visit, Bishop Graham and Lord and Lady Dannatt were able to meet and discuss the potential impact of the building in the local community with staff members who have played in key role in enabling this project to go ahead.

Speaking back in 2019 when the YMCA unveiled plans for the venue, Lord Dannatt, President of YMCA Norfolk, said: "I am delighted that the YMCA has seized this opportunity to invest in the lives of people in the Aylsham Road area."

The hall's closure was first announced in 2013, with Royal British Legion bosses saying that to keep it open would be to pose an "unacceptable risk" to charitable funds.

The Jubillee Hall, Aylsham Road, Norwich that is under threat of closure . Angela Laing, centre with

The Jubillee Hall, Aylsham Road, Norwich that is under threat of closure . Angela Laing, centre with Alan Hewitt, right who have been collecting signatures for the petition. Photo: Steve Adams

It was expected to close on January 1, 2014, as the branch could no longer continue to operate it, as they could not afford the monthly outgoings.

But the hall, which the Norwich Evening News campaigned to keep open, it was granted a stay of execution after city councillors applied to get the social club listed as an asset of community value under the Localism Act.

  

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