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New church toddler group for Norwich community

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St Thomas Church (STN) took over the lease of Russell Street Community Centre last year and have started the popular church-run Noah’s Boat toddler group every Wednesday morning. Noah’s Boat also runs at Holy Trinity Church on a Monday and at St Thomas on Earlham Road on a Thursday.

St Thomas’ vision for the Russell Street area is to see transformation in the community. The community centre is located in Mancroft Ward, one of the most deprived areas of the country, with many families living in poverty.

STN Children’s leader Roxanne Rouse is keen to draw people in to the activities at the community centre. She said:

“Our aim is to bring people together and we want to build bridges between the community and the church.”

Connections with the community are already functioning through the toddler group and it is hoped that genuine and lasting relationships will be formed – both between parents and carers attending and with the church members. Roxanne believes this is a way to build up an authentic and positive presence in the community.

Noah’s Boat is a safe and secure place to build friendships. The toddler group is well-organised, with a craft activity available, story time, song time and good quality toys – many of which were donated by local groups. Refreshments are available to parents and carers and a healthy snack is served to the children.

The group has only been running for four weeks but feedback so far has been very positive, with requests for the group to run more frequently on other days during the week.

Noah’s Boat is just one of the activities at the community centre. Other activities include a breakfast club and a ‘spud club’, where children can come and do their homework and get a nutritious meal.

Roxanne also hopes a FISH club (Food In School Holidays) will run from the community centre. She is enthusiastic about building up connections with local families and adapting the activities on offer to meet their needs. She says it’s as important for the parents to come and make friends and connect with others as it is for the children.

All are welcome at Noah’s Boat at any venue, from newborn to preschool, along with a parent or carer:

  • Earlham Road: St Thomas Hall. Every other Thursday 10.30am – 12pm
  • Russell Street Community Centre.Every Wednesday during term time 10am – 11.30am
  • Holy Trinity Church Hall, Cambridge Street. Every Monday during term time. 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Anyone interested in finding out more of volunteering to help with activities at Russell Street Community Centre can contact

Pictured above is Noah’s Boat in full swing, and below is a photo of leaders Becky Anderson and Roxanne Rouse.

The original article can be found on Network Norwich here.