In the 1970s rough sleepers were accommodated at a redundant church known as the Norwich Night Shelter where visitors were served a hot meal and given a bed for the night. The organisation has grown and developed over the decades into a range of services and accommodation projects.
CEO Dr Jan Sheldon said, “Our 50th anniversary evokes feelings of both pride and sadness. Pride that the organisation is able to provide such a comprehensive range of specialist services but sadness that they are needed in 2022.”
Chair of Trustees Colin Bland said, “We are proud of the quality of the services that we are able to provide. We are able to do this because of the support of the public in Norfolk for which we are hugely grateful. In addition we are supported by many statutory partners and their help and funding forms a cornerstone for the work we do. The founders of the charity were people who had foresight, ambition and, above all, a caring attitude.”
The organisation has helped over 25,000 people in the last 50 years.
The Very Rev Jane Hedges said, “I am delighted to have been asked to unveil the plaque marking the 50th anniversary of St Martins. It’s wonderful to think that the work of the organisation has expended from its humble beginnings in a garage at the rear of the Deanery. Our hope and prayer is that people of goodwill will continue to work together in the years ahead to overcome the problems related to homelessness and that all the people in our city will come to have a place to call home.”
The Very Rev Alan Webster, Dean of Norwich Cathedral, made his garage available for people who were sleeping rough in the 1970s. His wife Mrs Margaret Webster attended the plaque unveiling and spoke about her memories of Eddie, the very first person to sleep there.
St Martins continues to support people who are sleeping rough, are homeless or vulnerably housed. Later this year the charity hopes to announce exciting new plans for a new accommodation project which will help achieve their vision that no one needs to sleep rough on the streets of Norwich.