Re-opening of Magdalene drop-in celebrated
Staff, volunteers, trustees and supporters of the Magdalene Group gathered today to celebrate the re-opening of the charity’s drop-in centre in Norwich open to people in the city working in prostitution.
by Helen Baldry
Trustees, including one of the founding members of The Magdalene Group Doreen Green, The Right Revd Graham James, Bishop Peter Fox and the High Sheriff of Norfolk Georgina Holloway attended the occasion on December 21 at King Street in Norwich to mark the re-opening and unveil a new plaque outside.
The Magdalene Group encourages the spiritual, physical and educational well-being of people working within the sex industry in Norwich.
The refurbishment of the drop-in area was made possible thanks to a capital cost Lottery fund. Manager Suzi Heybourne
said, “This lottery money had been ringfenced to spend on furniture for the drop-in. We spoke to the women for ideas on what they would like and they chose the fabrics from colour swatches. They wanted it to be contemporary and colourful.”
The environment certainly felt warm and welcoming with smart leather sofas, a dining area and modern computer suite and TV. The wall mounted TV was kindly donated by Snellings of Blofield for film evenings and to aid IT learning.
The women who use the drop-in have always felt a connection with the Magdalene Group and it is the listening ears and caring support which makes such a difference in their lives. The impact if the refurbishment is significant for the women. Suzi said, “Modernising and reinvesting in the drop-in signifies our onward commitment to them.”
The furniture was made to measure for the space and the new layout will help the staff and volunteers to work with the women by facilitating private conversations and active listening without the ‘statutory’ feel of a separate private room.
The drop-in service is open three afternoons a week, providing a safe place to go, have a meal, a listening ear, support and friendship. The dedicated resource area gives the women a chance to get online, create a CV, pay bills and other day-to-day things that they otherwise wouldn’t manage to do at home as they often lead very chaotic lives.
Drop-in always starts with a meal and time spent together which makes each person feel valued. Sitting down to eat together is a powerful way of engaging people. Craft activities, games or activities such as cooking are offered. Each person is known and remembered, and at events such as birthdays and Christmas the women are each bought an individual present that they really want. Earlier this week a Christmas party was held at The King’s Centre which 40 people attended.
Future developments for The Magdalene Group include looking at evening opening in the New Year, the introduction of a telephone helpline, expansion of the befriending scheme to those leaving prison and those the Group meets during evening outreach support. There will also be ongoing development of the prevention programme Jigsaw.
Pictured: above the unveiling of the plaque; Bishop Graham with Suzi Heybourne; the sofa area of the drop-in