Norwich City Council hands vital �400k loan to YMCA

An early Christmas present has been handed to YMCA Norfolk after Norwich City Council agreed to loan �400,000 towards the charity's new Bethel Street building at a 0pc interest rate.

The hefty loan will part-fund the build of 40 bedrooms for homeless and vulnerable 16- to 25-year-olds in Norwich.

The decision to loan the money by the city council was made with the belief that the YMCA improvements would have a positive impact on council homelessness services.

Victoria MacDonald, city council cabinet member for housing, said: 'I am delighted that we were able to step in to ensure this building is finished.

'There is a very real need to provide housing in Norwich for homeless and vulnerable people and the support which the YMCA provides is invaluable.'

When work on the new Bethel Street site finishes in May next year, the YMCA will have completed its two-part project to relocate its services.

The city council supplied land adjacent to Norwich bus station in Surrey Street to enable completion of the first phase in 2009, a 34-bedroom assessment centre offering short-stay accommodation.

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However, the Bethel Street project suffered a setback when an offer for the YMCA's old St Giles Street premises in 2008 was withdrawn following the economic downturn.

The loan has been welcomed by the YMCA, as the interest accrued on a private loan would have forced it to direct resources away from the work it does.

YMCA Norfolk chief executive Tim Sweeting added: 'The backing of Norwich City Council is a very welcome boost to the project.

'We will now be able to focus our efforts on raising the final �370,000 we need to complete the project.'

YMCA Norfolk is now looking to raise the final �370,000 needed, with applications to grant-making trusts and a public appeal.

Do you know a community group that has secured major funding? Call David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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