The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norwich church centre offers life-changing activities 

Karaoke, Royal reminiscences and a sensory garden are just some of the activities on offer at a Norwich day centre for the elderly which has “changed the life” of at least one attendee.

The Lakenham Day Centre and twice-weekly Luncheon Club, is based at the New Hope Christian Centre on Martineau Lane in Lakenham, and has had a significant impact on some of its regulars according to Texan-born manager Duane Elkins.

Pauline, who has early dementia, loves coming to the centre,” he said. “She gets involved in the activities based around cognitive stimulation therapy, comes on the outings and at Christmas told me that ‘the club has changed her life and is the best thing that has happened to her for a long time’.

“David, one of the gentleman who attends, took part in the cookery group and made some bread. He said to me: ‘This is the most useful thing I have done in two years’. The next week he brought in a cake he had made at home for others to enjoy with their coffee.”

Such is the impact of the centre for the over 55s which, unusually, has almost as many gentleman attending as ladies.

The morning activities include a card table, a scrabble table and magazines and newspapers to browse. Others just like to sit and chat. Endless cups of tea, coffee and biscuits are available free of charge.

“Last year we secured funding to develop a Sensory Garden which has provided a beautiful outdoor space for members to sit and have coffee and a chat during the summer months,” said Duane. “This is part of our dementia-friendly work, as we have several members who are coping with memory difficulties.

“Dinners are ‘home cooked’ on the premises and fresh seasonal ingredients are sourced locally where possible. There is always an alternative menu available for those who have special dietary needs or those who don’t like certain foods,” said Duane.

Afternoon activities range from reminiscence sessions to special interest talks. “One of the most fascinating was given by a man who worked in Buckingham Palace as an assistant controller of the household,” said Duane. “Another was how to travel Norfolk using a bus pass. We have recently bought a karaoke machine which has become a firm favourite and is always accompanied by much laughter.” 

As an extension of the day centre’s work it also runs a student placement scheme, for volunteers who wish to gain basic skills and experience to support them access employment. Since the scheme started six students have gained part time employment in the Norwich area.

Funding contributions from the Big Lottery has made much of this work possible.

The day centre is part of the work of Community Action Norwich and you can find out more from Vanessa or Duane on 01603 617771, email or visit

Pictured above is David making bread with volunteer Tonia at the Lakenham Day Centre.


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