2010: Work has begun to transform a Norwich church into a warm, welcoming community space to be used throughout the week by groups and organisations from the local estate.
Work commenced on the exciting project at St. Francis Church in the centre of the Heartsease estate in Norwich on 14 October.
The £65,000 scheme will see the church’s main area being remodelled. This will involve fitting a new insulated roof and filling its walls with cavity insulation. The pews will be removed and replaced by normal chairs, and a new carpet laid. When additional funds are raised, double glazed windows are to be fitted and an entrance ramp installed to improve access for wheelchair users.
The church hall and lounge are currently popular venues for community groups including toddler groups, youth projects and community lunch club but at present the church is not used for most of the week. It became the Parochial Church Council’s vision to change this. It set about planning and fundraising for this part to provide a more flexible, energy efficient space that can be used by various groups and also provide an improved venue and atmosphere for worship.
Local residents were asked about what they wanted to see at the church. A large amount favoured the idea of a community café and provision of facilities such as adult education, services that could be provided at the church if facilities were improved.
St Francis’ vicar, the Revd Canon Peter Howard
, says, “Improving and upgrading the church’s facilities will benefit the whole community, including excluded and disadvantaged sections. It will also provide facilities for children and young people to meet for activities that are not available in the local area. This work will also mean that the church will be much more efficient in its use of energy. We can’t wait to see this transformation take place”.
Whilst the work is underway church services are taking place in the hall, including a new initiative which will be supported by the East Norwich Youth Project (ENYP) called ‘Messy Church’. This national initiative takes place on the first Sunday of the month and the first session at St Francis took place last weekend; local families came to the church for breakfast followed by children’s activities.
St Francis is just one of twelve local Churches that ENYP is currently supported by, through this partnership work ENYP is able to provide a wide range of youth and children’s work; including clubs, dance groups, music projects, arts awards and holiday clubs, all of which currently helps see hundreds of people pass through the doors of St Francis and many of ENYP’s partner Churches, along with local Schools and other facilities on a weekly bases.
Danny Doran-Smith, ENYP’s Project Director says “ENYP's heart is to serve and work alongside local Churches; this is just another example of how we can draw on each other’s strengths in order to make a positive Impact within each Community".