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Christopher Centre in Sudbury explores projects to replenish income lost to coronavirus pandemic




The leader of a community hub in Sudbury says the charity has been proactive in exploring financially viable projects which could help to replenish some of its income following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Christopher Centre was forced to shut its venue in March after the Government instructed that all non-essential businesses, including charities and community groups, should close to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

During the closure, the charity has been unable to generate any income from its meeting rooms and offices in Gainsborough Street, which had been leased by a range of charities and community groups.

The Christopher Centre, 10 Gainsborough St, Sudbury , Bob Darvell,Bob Darvell Sue Ayres,Penny Nichol, Karoline Wells and Teresa Bishop..C'Art provides weekly art sessions for people with mental health conditions..Members take part in various creative projects, which has supported them through difficult situations.. Picture by Mark Westley. (37184889)
The Christopher Centre, 10 Gainsborough St, Sudbury , Bob Darvell,Bob Darvell Sue Ayres,Penny Nichol, Karoline Wells and Teresa Bishop..C'Art provides weekly art sessions for people with mental health conditions..Members take part in various creative projects, which has supported them through difficult situations.. Picture by Mark Westley. (37184889)

“It has knocked us for six because, if we don’t have any people coming in, we don’t have any income,” said Teresa Bishop, manager of the resource centre.

“It has had a huge impact on our finances and it has put us in a vulnerable position,” she added.

During the crisis, the team have remained in regular contact with those people who had attended weekly support sessions.

“We have kept in touch with our members through various means to make sure they have been okay,” said Mrs Bishop.

Since the Government updated its guidelines on meeting arrangements for different households, a community singing group has been hosting its sessions outdoors in the centre’s courtyard.

“That has been a great joy to have been able to start those again,” said Mrs Bishop, who added that elderly members may be more reluctant about returning to the venue at the moment.

“It will depend on how many people want to get together. Some may be really keen and others might still be frightened.”

While the charity has put a series of social distancing measures in place in preparation for when the centre can reopen, some of its upstairs meeting rooms have proven more difficult to adapt.

“It’s a more enclosed area, so we have been trying to make them much more open to enable our counsellors to work again,” said Mrs Bishop.

Once the venue has reopened, which the team hopes will be some time in July, Mrs Bishop anticipates that it could take up to a year before the charity recovers financially from the crisis.

“I’m pretty confident that, within 12 months, all being well, things will be back to normal,” she said this week.

To help boost the charity’s income, the centre plans to launch a community initiative next month, which will enable people from the town and the wider area to showcase their locally grown produce and home-made goods, along with a range of creative crafts hosted at a weekly market.

Hoping the project will help to reunite members of the public, Mrs Bishop said: “It will be a way for people to come back together. Local people have expressed interest about being part of the scheme.”

Praising the town for its acts of kindness throughout the crisis, Mrs Bishop added: “I think people have showed what a really brilliant community Sudbury is.”

To book a stall at the charity’s community event, call 01787 313914 and leave a message, or email info@christophercentre.org.uk.


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