“Devastating” blow as Norwich charity Open announces closure

The OPEN Norwich charity is at risk of closure. Pictured, chief executive Laura Rycroft Photo: OPEN

The OPEN Norwich charity is at risk of closure. Pictured, chief executive Laura Rycroft Photo: OPEN Norwich - Credit: Archant

Thousands of young people have been dealt “a devastating blow” after a charity providing them with vital support closed.

OPEN Youth Trust, in Bank Plain, has announced that after 15 years it has gone into liquidation after an unsuccessful fight to secure the funding needed to survive.

At the end of March, chief executive Laura Rycroft warned the service was at risk as its lottery funding ran out at the end of April.

In addition, due to the coronavirus lockdown, all events had been postponed at the venue impacting its commercial income.

The youth trust, alongside Close Limited, have now appointed Price Bailey to handle the liquidation.

OPEN Norwich Credit: Antony Kelly

OPEN Norwich Credit: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

Read more: ‘We are in dire need’: OPEN Norwich fighting for survival

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Mrs Rycroft said: ”This news comes as a devastating blow not only to the team, whose hard work, loyalty and passion for the Trust and the young people it has provided for has been amazing, but also to all of the young people that benefit from our programmes and activities and the local businesses and individuals within the community that visit our venue and have supported our cause over the years.

“On behalf of myself, the trustees and our colleagues we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our suppliers, supporters, patrons and ambassadors, and to anyone that has visited our venue and donated to our charity.”

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The venue provided a wide-range of services and classes to some of the most deprived youngsters in and around Norwich. The many events it held helped towards paying for those.

Norfolk Youth Awards 2018 at OPEN, Norwich. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

Norfolk Youth Awards 2018 at OPEN, Norwich. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography. - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

It is understood youngsters who rely on them will be sign-posted to similar services in the city.

Read more: ‘We can’t do any fundraising’: Charities appeal for help to get through coronavirus

Russell Dacre MBE, chair of trustees, said the charity had fought for years to make ends meet but the recent situation had been the “finishing blow”.

He said: “Unfortunately for OPEN this drastic situation has become the finishing blow for us. Whilst this is the end of a 15-year journey, I’m very proud of the wide-ranging benefit OPEN has delivered to many thousands of children, young people and families.

OPEN Norwich Credit: OPEN Norwich

OPEN Norwich Credit: OPEN Norwich - Credit: Archant

“I will remember the stories forever of the individual young people who expressed their gratitude for the sense of safety, family and support that they received from the team at OPEN when they needed it most. My grateful thanks go to our team and community partners for their personal dedication to the cause over so many years. Their support has enriched so many lives in Norwich and across Norfolk.”


Gavin Wilcock, Trustee of the Lind Trust, one of OPEN’s local supporting charities, added: “It is a huge loss for young people who have looked and continue to look to the venue for support and encouragement.”

The history of the venue dates back to 1779 when Alderman James Poole, a wine merchant, sold Bartlett Gurney his premises. Gurney installed safes for bullion in the former wine cellars and the Gurney Bank was established.

Open Up at The Open event in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Open Up at The Open event in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

In 1896, 20 banks including the Gurney Bank were amalgamated under the name of Barclay & Co Ltd. However Barclays Bank outgrew its premises and in 1926 a new building was designed with a huge banking hall, offices and strong rooms.

As a bank it was reputed to have had to longest banking counter in the UK and became the regional head quarters of Barclays until it was sold to the Lind Trust in 2003.

After purchasing the building, the Lind Trust established a Youth Forum whose primary aim was to assess the needs of young people in Norfolk and in 2005 the OPEN Youth Trust received charitable status.

Hudsons Architects worked with young people on how best to make use of the interior of the venue, both for young people and also conference users, and in 2009 a totally redesigned venue being handed back to the trust.

In the last few years it’s been a popular location for gigs, shows, conferences and awards celebrations.

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