YMCA gets green light for Norwich community hub plan
YMCA Norfolk has received planning approval to renovate the Jubilee Hall on Aylsham Road and turn it into a Community Hub with an Ofsted registered nursery, Nourish Café and carvery, and a soft play centre. Keith Morris reports.
The planning permission was granted by Norwich City Council on Monday November 5. Profits from the activities will be reinvested in local community provision such as a new youth club.
YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting, said: “We are really excited to be able to get on with delivering this community resource that will enable people to invest back in their local area while enjoying a coffee or great childcare.”
Approved by the YMCA Norfolk board of trustees earlier this week, it was agreed that the Nursery, to be called Muddy Puddles, will aim to open in January 2021, but parents can register their interest in the nursery now via YMCA Norfolk’s website.
The nursery will reflect YMCA Norfolk’s values as an organisation, with an inclusive, compassionate approach to childcare.
Louise Hinchley, Head of Communities at YMCA Norfolk, said: “We are passionate about offering a positive environment where all children feel secure and valued. We believe in promoting each child’s strengths and helping them love themselves and others, in all their difference.
“Our nursery will encourage children to be curious and adventurous in their play and learning so they grow in appreciation of the world around them and feel ready for the transition to school when the time comes.”
The nursery aims to encompass a reduced technology approach to childcare, encouraging outdoor play and exploration. The childcare provision aspires to be environmentally friendly through sustainable toys and natural materials for play such as wood instead of plastic. The nursery will also encourage children to use natural textures in their sensory play such as ice, sand, mud, water and clay – promoting the reduction of carbon footprint and waste.
The garden space and trees outside the Nursery lends itself to a forest school environment for that can be accessed in all weather. The nursery will aim to ensure it has forest school activities including digging, building, planting and growing. Staff are also keen for nursery attendees to understand how things grow and the world around them.
Parents will be invited to tour the site from Autumn 2020, but are encouraged to show interest in advance via YMCA Norfolk’s Community Hub team, who are contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org
Nourish Café, which is positioned in the middle of the site, will be a family-centred, clean, comfortable restaurant that offers premium coffee, home-cooked meals and a place for parents to sit and relax while their children attend nursery or visit the soft play centre.
The Soft Play centre aims to reflect the Nursery’s environmentally-friendly approach and will also be a clean, safe and fun environment for all children. Featured as part of Nourish café, parents can watch children play while enjoying the restaurant’s facilities.
The centre will also include staff offices, where YMCA Norfolk’s head office team (currently based at Exchange Street in Norwich city centre) will relocate in Autumn 2020.
YMCA Norfolk are very grateful for the number of pledges they have already received from funders and will continue their public fundraising appeal up until the opening of the centre.
Susie Knights, YMCA Norfolk Fundraising Manager, said: “Huge thanks to Norwich Freeman’s Charity, The Lind Trust, Norwich City Council, the John Jarrold Trust, The Geoffrey Watling Charity and Anguish Educational Foundation for their early support in our fundraising campaign.
“We have now launched our online fundraiser via Just Giving and are encouraging the public to get involved in hosting their own fundraising events, with the support of our Marketing and Fundraising department.
“We would love to hear from individuals, community groups or businesses that can offer financial or practical support to take this innovative project forward. Every donation, big or small, is hugely appreciated and supports us in building this much needed family service within the community.”
Pictured top is an artist's impression of the new YMCA community hub in Norwich and, above, CEO Tim Sweeting outside the existing building on Aylsham Road in Norwich.