Thetford drop-in centre needs new manager

A vacancy has arisen at a popular drop-in centre following the departure of its manager just six weeks into the role.

Tapiwa Kundoro took over the position at the Meet Up Caf� in Thetford in August after the departure of former manager, town and district councillor Terry Jermy, who left to concentrate on his political roles.

But just a few weeks later, Mr Kundoro chose to leave the post for a different charity.

This has left the centre, run by the Benjamin Foundation, looking for a replacement.

Operational manager for children and young persons services, Sharon Matthews, said Mr Kundoro's departure was a 'disappointment' but that volunteers and staff were keeping things going in the meantime.

'We're very lucky to have some really supportive staff and our two full-time staff have picked up some managerial responsibilities and we're really grateful to them for that,' she said. 'There's also been a lot of interest in the role and it doesn't close for another few days.

'We're looking at this as a long-term appointment and we're looking for somebody to grow the Meet Up and build on existing partnerships and build on what we've already got.

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'It was really disappointing when he left because he brought a lot of ideas and energy and we really enjoyed working with him, but he's not the only person who works there and it's not brought services to a close.'

The caf� was set up almost two years ago for 10 to 16-year-olds by the Benjamin Foundation, with �350,000 from the government. The scheme was part of a series of pilots across the country which aimed to 'inspire communities' and raise aspirations.

Earlier this year, the Benjamin Foundation was awarded a Big Lottery Fund grant of �450,000 to keep the centre open for another three years.

With more than 100 members aged between 10 and 16, the caf� runs residential trips and classes, including media, cooking and a girls group, and acts as a drop-in centre for youngsters living nearby.

Activities co-ordinator Katie Riches is a full-time member of staff and is sharing managerial responsibilities with youth worker Julie Taylor-Newell.

She said the lack of a manager had not affected the children and all activities were running as usual.

'We thought the new manager would come in with the new funding and this would be a new era for the Meet Up,' she said. 'When Taps was here he put his own stamp on it but now we need someone who's going to be here for the long-term and build the next three years.'

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