Nelson’s Journey finally gets a place to call home

The Betts girls Isla, Rosa and Mae perform the topping out ceremony of Nelson's Journey's new Smiles

The Betts girls Isla, Rosa and Mae perform the topping out ceremony of Nelson's Journey's new Smiles House at Octagon Business Park, Little Plumstead.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

It has been a body of solace and support for grieving Norfolk youngsters for almost two decades.

Work continues on the building at the topping out ceremony of Nelson's Journey's new Smiles House at

Work continues on the building at the topping out ceremony of Nelson's Journey's new Smiles House at Octagon Business Park, Little Plumstead.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

During many families' darkest hours, Nelson's Journey has been the only place to turn.

So now the bereavement charity is being treated to a bit of tender loving care of its own as a new £750,000 headquarters nears completion.

Currently based at Meridian Way in Norwich with little space and reliance on home visits, within a month the good cause will offer a place where children, young people and their families can be helped during a time of loss.

The vision for a place the charity can call home started with a pledge to raise £600,000 to fulfil that dream.


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Now the base, called Smiles House, at Octagon Business Park in Little Plumstead is almost complete after exceeding that target, and the milestone was marked with a topping of ceremony yesterday.

The charity's patrons, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson, television presenter Carol Bundock and Norfolk's former coroner William Armstrong, volunteers and staff gathered at the site in the countdown to the October opening.

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Colin Lang, chief executive of Nelson's Journey, said the building is a huge step for the charity.

'17 years ago there was nothing for bereaved children in Norfolk,' he said.

'Now with the new building it will all be here in one place for young people to receive that support they so desperately need at that time in their lives.

'The most important thing for us is that for the first him in our charity's history we are able to bring young people to us.

'They come to us and receive support – and hopefully fulfil our aim to put a smile back on a bereaved child's face.'

The new centre will have space for support groups and families and provide accommodation for training professionals who work with children and might need bereavement guidance.

And because of the rural nature of the site, children will have four acres to roam during their time there.

Senior child bereavement support worker Lorna Vyse, 44, said the new centre will enhance the charity's work. 'People have never had the opportunity to come somewhere that is away from home to think about what they need to,' she said.

'People talk to us at the most difficult and painful moments in their lives and we need to allow them to do that in a place that makes them feel comfortable.'

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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