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Head of Charles Burrell Centre praises year of projects

The man in charge of the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford has looked back at the busy year the site has had.

Mark Snowdon, chief operating officer of the business hub at the old Charles Burrell High School, in Staniforth Road, feels it has been about development and stability.

He said: “Our team has been working hard to deliver two major projects, we’ve overseen a number of significant refurbishments to facilities which has enabled us to open new rentable spaces and attracted a wide range of events from wedding receptions to boxing shows.”

Mark Snowdon and some of the team at the Charles Burrell Centre who have been involved in the projects
Mark Snowdon and some of the team at the Charles Burrell Centre who have been involved in the projects

One of those initiatives is the Full Steam Ahead project that started at the end of April this year.

Its aim is to support around 80 people, over a two-year period, back into the workplace, 14 have already found jobs and 19 are currently enrolled in the scheme.

Lyn Keane, project co-ordinator, said: “It has been incredible, starting from scratch and getting to where we are now. It is just fantastic when you see people from here starting employment.”

The second is the Power to Change project, where £112,500 was granted for refurbishments but £37,500 has to be raised by the site as part of the grant’s match funding agreement.

Mark said: “We are in the region of around £26,000 at the moment. Considering that’s over the course of only 12 months, it’s an incredible achievement and a credit to everyone’s efforts and the support from the community.”

A large section of money raised for that project was through a continuing chair campaign, where people can sponsor a chair in the balcony of the main hall of the centre.

Mark said: “It has been a huge success and generated more than £8,000.

“The majority of seats have been sponsored by businesses, former students of the school and there have also been a number of chairs sponsored in memory of former teachers and students who have sadly passed away.”

One of this year’s projects that affected Mark was Coats for Kids, that started in October, asking people to take in second hand winter coats for children aged one to 11 years-old, which were then handed out to those that needed them for winter.

He said: “Being a father of three, I never realised how many children were facing winter without a basic winter coat and it was heart-breaking.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed by the number of donations that came in.”

More than 130 coats were collected, the centre is now down to the last 10 and it has formed links with many primary schools in the town because of the project.

Mark finally thanked his team for their work at the centre over the last year.

He said: “When I first joined there were only two of us, now we have grown to 15.”

“We’re all very passionate and want to see the centre continue to open doors for the people of Thetford.”

To find out about the ongoing projects and more about the Charles Burrell Centre, go to www.charlesburrellcentre.org.uk

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