Town’s community centre praised for ‘incredible’ response to coronavirus

Danny Whitehouse is the Charles Burrell Centre's new chief executive and is in talks with Breckland

Danny Whitehouse is the Charles Burrell Centre's new chief executive and is in talks with Breckland Council to see how the site can be of service during the pandemic. Photo: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A town’s business centre which has been praised for its “incredible” response to the coronavirus pandemic must now be trusted to lead the community’s recovery, a report has revealed.

The Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford. Picture: Ian Burt

The Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The Charles Burrell Centre (CBC) in Thetford has been delivering vital support to those in need during the crisis and has now been recognised for its hard work.

The new report, by Locality, looked at how community organisations reacted and adapted to the challenges of the outbreak, highlighting the importance of strong community ties and collaboration.

Now the Charles Burrell Centre is one of seven organisations from across the UK tasked with leading the country’s recovery.

Danny Whitehouse, chief executive of the Charles Burrell Centre, said: “We were able to mobilise a response to the coronavirus so quickly because of our strong networks locally.

Danny Whitehouse is the Charles Burrell Centre's new chief executive and is in talks with Breckland

Danny Whitehouse is the Charles Burrell Centre's new chief executive and is in talks with Breckland Council to see how the site can be of service during the pandemic. Photo: Danny Whitehouse - Credit: Danny Whitehouse


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“We’ve formed deeper partnerships with our key local partners, our town, district and county councils, mutual aid volunteer groups, other voluntary sector organisations, our membership network, Locality, and our funding partners.

“As we look to recovery, we hope this, combined with the new wave of community spirit we’ve seen, will equip us to deal with the social and economic challenges that are coming down the track.”

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Based in a former secondary School, the Charles Burrell Centre is home to a range of services, including businesses and organisations – ranging from seamstresses to charities.

But despite closing its doors during the pandemic, staff remained in action and did what they could to continue supporting Thetford’s most vulnerable.

Staff and tenants at the Charles Burrell Centre before the pandemic. Picture: Charles Burrell Centre

Staff and tenants at the Charles Burrell Centre before the pandemic. Picture: Charles Burrell Centre - Credit: Archant

The Charles Burrell Centre provided essential services such as the food bank, community nurses and a manufacturing company producing PPE.

Staff put together “essentials packs” for people who had lost their jobs and found themselves in sudden poverty.

And they worked with local aid groups to support those shielding, by sending volunteers to do shopping, pick up prescriptions, dog walking and provide emotional support over the phone.

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said: “Organisations such as the Charles Burrell Centre have, once again, proven their importance to the local community.

“They have adapted quickly to changing circumstances in Thetford and used their invaluable local networks and knowledge to drive the local coronavirus response.”

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