Cooking up some fantastic ‘outcomes’

Author: Rodney Back and John Richens

Published on: 30 March 2018

The parish church of St Cuthbert’s in Thetford is a lovely Grade II* Listed building, basically 13th century, but with Victorian and 20th century additions, in the town centre.

We recognise that the changes in society mean that the church buildings need to adapt to better serve the community’s needs. We started with a two stage development plan which will create a flexible interior, suitable for both worship and community use, making it a hub of Christian life in Thetford and securing its future.

There will be improved kitchen facilities, new toilets and improved access. Stage 1, the biggest part, involves installing a fully equipped catering kitchen, redesigning the toilets and improving the access for disabled people. The development plan includes two new income streams in addition to the normal income from church giving and activities.

It was really important for us to demonstrate strong benefits for the community (Outcomes).

The second stream involves the setting up of a new social enterprise business, in conjunction with an experienced social enterprise partner providing meaningful occupation, training and work experience placements for local people in the catering/ events business. It will provide disadvantaged groups, such as people in recovery from substance misuse and those experiencing diffculty in getting back into employment, an opportunity to experience work in the growing food sector business, providing specialist training in food preparation, food hygiene and health & safety. This work experience and training could provide employment for some 20 volunteers per week.

Stage 1 will cost £235,000, of which we have raised £168,000. After the completion of this stage, we will look to reorder some aspects of the church to make the building more flexible, for example, levelling the floor.

This plan allows us to fulfill our mission in Thetford: “To love and to serve the community in the name of Jesus Christ”. It is an exciting opportunity for the church to engage with the wider community of Thetford, to fulfill its outreach aims and to secure the continued use of this historic building.

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