The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, was welcomed on Thursday 25 March to dedicate and commission the brand-new YMCA Centre on Aylsham Road as one of the first visitors to the building since its recent completion.
The visit signifies the culmination of YMCA Norfolk’s ambitious project to bring a multi-purpose Community Hub to the city, which commenced in 2019 after planning approval and financial support was granted by Norfolk County Council.
Tim Sweeting, YMCA Norfolk Chief Executive, said:
“It was a fantastic privilege to show Bishop Graham around our new centre alongside our President, General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, and Lady Philippa Dannatt, Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk.
“Our new building is one of which we are extremely proud and are beyond excited to open its doors to the public, to share YMCA’s community-enhancing mission with members of the Norwich and Norfolk community.
“We are confident that our nursery, cafe, soft play and staff offices will bring an abundance of hope and a sense of community to the area – a vision shared by all staff and supporters of YMCA Norfolk.”
Bishop Graham was met by Tim (CEO) and Phillip Macdonald (Chair of Trustees), alongside Lord and Lady Dannatt to be given a tour of the purpose-built facilities – including Muddy Puddles Nursery, a 90-place Ofsted registered nursery, which officially opens on 12 April.
The nursery will provide a mix of funded and non-funded places to ensure that families from less advantaged backgrounds are able to enjoy the childcare facilities, helping YMCA Norfolk to fulfil the mission of the project to bring a long-lasting and sustainable presence to support the local community in this under-resourced area of the city.
As part of the Bishop Graham’s visit, he was among the first to see the newly installed Explorers Soft Play Centre, designed for children to enjoy playing in a safe area adjacent to the community-focused café, Williams’ Kitchen.
Bishop Graham said: “It was my delight to dedicate YMCA Norfolk’s new community hub this morning. May it flourish as it demonstrates the love of Jesus in supporting young people and families to build firm foundations and experience life in all its abundance.”
The Café forms the centre of the Hub, which visitors will enter into directly, intended to provide a welcoming and safe space for all members of the community – where they can enjoy high-quality food and drinks. In addition, the Hub is the new base for the YMCA Norfolk offices, enabling staff members and the management team to also be based on-site.
During the visit, Bishop Graham and Lord and Lady Dannatt were able to meet and discuss the potential impact of the building in the local community with staff members who have played in key role in enabling this project to go ahead.
Full Covid-19 restrictions were in place to ensure everyone’s safety during the visit.