'Just £1 each' - Bid to transform ex-bank into community hub launched

Bob Wright, Mal Gray, Paul Oakes and Annie Abbs of North Walsham Phoenix Group outside the former Ba

Bob Wright, Mal Gray, Paul Oakes and Annie Abbs of North Walsham Phoenix Group outside the former Barclays bank in North Walsham. Photo: North Walsham Phoenix Group - Credit: North Walsham Phoenix Group

People in and around North Walsham have been asked to chip in to help transform a disused bank into a community hub.

The North Walsham Phoenix Group are hoping to raise £20,000 in an online appeal towards an overall sum of around £150,000 needed for the project, at the former Barclays branch in Market Place. 

Mal Gray, the group's chairman, said: "We want people to take ownership of the building and the vision of having something for everyone in the town. We've all endured such a terrible year and this is about looking forward to something brighter and better, and we've had a great response so far. 

"If everyone could just give £1 it would make so much of a difference."

The idea for the project came about after a survey of the town's young people revealed a need for a centre with a mix of community facilities. 

The group has now secured a 10-year lease on the former bank building, which closed in January 2019

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Mr Gray said: "We realised it wasn't just the youth that felt a disconnect with the town, it was everybody who wanted something focal."

Facilities planned for the future 'Phoenix Centre' include a meeting place, youth social gathering spot and sensory room on the ground floor, as well as a community help desk and an accessible toilet. 

The upper two floors will be office space for hot-desking and short-term lease, and the basement will be converted into a professional performance and recording studio. 

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But Mr Gray said they still had a long way to go to reach their target for the project, which would include replacing the lift to make all floors accessible to wheelchair users. 

He said: "The overall idea is that it will be a focal point for information in the town. If people are unsure about something and they need help, there will be someone manning a desk who will be able to point them in the right direction." 

Mr Gray said as well as donations, they were keen to hear from people who could lend a hand with the building works. 

He said the goal was to have at least part of the building open to the public by spring. 

To find out more, visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/phoenixbuilding or search for North Walsham Phoenix Group on Facebook

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