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My Norwich

Citizen – Winter 2021

Published 8 November 2021

Message from the leader, Alan Waters

What is local government? Even though they are complex organisations: the NHS; schools and police; to take three high profile examples, are immediately better understood by the public. From their point of view, these services do what they say on the tin. Local government has a less clear focus in the public mind. Central government, which controls national spending decisions, is aware of this and prioritises accordingly.

So, what is in the local government tin? In Norwich, I would guess, there would be slightly different answers depending on which council services people use. However, the city council is more than the sum of the services it provides. Its role is much wider and it has an ambitious agenda which includes making Norwich, through a network of partnerships and community activity, a strong and successful city. It also has a role to play in being able to tackle and contribute to the issues we face locally as well as be equipped to respond effectively to national and global trends.

The council has three key documents which set out its vision, core priorities and shared aspirations for the city: the Corporate Plan 2019-22; Covid-19 recovery plan and the Norwich 2040 city vision – all of which are published on the council’s website.

Turning attention to this issue of Citizen there is a good mix of examples which illustrate the council’s broader role in action. Local councils, like Norwich, bring that vital ingredient of local knowledge to find the best solutions, something which central government is less well equipped to do. Those big areas of health, education and policing also benefit from the links with council services.

Finally, local democracy should have its fun side, so there are events and ideas in this issue about how to celebrate over the festive season. After a tough year, I wish everyone a Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2022.

News in brief

West End Street

In the article ‘Our glorious parks and green spaces’ on page five of the summer issue of Citizen we published a story about improvement work for West End Street being complete at the time the magazine was published. The multi-use games area is due to be complete in October 2021 with the garden project following suit over the coming months.

Having your day in elections

Don’t miss out on having your say by making sure you’re registered to vote in local and national elections or referendums. You can do this easily and quickly online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote  – you’ll need your date of birth and National Insurance number to complete your application.

You can choose to vote by post or in person on polling day. Remember if you move, change your name or nationality, you must update your details with us.

Students can register at their home address and term time address if they are in two different local authority areas.

Find out more about elections and voting in Norwich.

Renewable energy to flow from river into council homes

An innovative heating system using water from the River Wensum is set to achieve a major reduction in carbon emissions from a city council housing development, following cabinet approval.

Plans to build a heat pump using river water as a renewable energy source at Barnards Yard, close to the city centre, have also received initial approval from the Environment Agency.

The new system will provide heating and hot water to 85 homes, replacing the current system which uses natural gas: a carbon generating fossil fuel. This will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, emitting approximately 270 tonnes less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year: the equivalent absorption of almost 1,300 fully grown trees. The pump itself will be powered by renewable electricity.

Norwich into the future

Shaping up the blueprint for where tens of thousands of homes could be built in Greater Norwich over the next two decades has taken another step forward.

The Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) is being prepared jointly by Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council, to guide future growth in the Greater Norwich area to 2038.

The GNLP sets out a strategy for housing and jobs growth and identifies sites to deliver this strategy. The plan was submitted to the secretary of state in July and is due to undergo a public examination in early 2022.

Following the end of the public examination, it is anticipated that the GNLP will be adopted by the Greater Norwich authorities in late 2022.

For more information visit the GNLP website.

Money matters – we’d like your say

When looking through the contents list of this magazine, an article about our budget might not have been the most immediate thing to have piqued your interest. Local government finances are complicated and you might wonder how they affect you.

All the services we deliver, however – collecting waste and recycling, the upkeep and investment in our parks and open spaces, and other leisure facilities, building and maintaining social housing – have to be funded.

There are three main sources we get funding from to run services:

  • Central government grants
  • Business rates
  • Council tax

But as the above far from covers the cost of all we want to achieve as a council, and for the city as a whole, we also need to generate income to reinvest through:

  • fees and charges – for example car parking charges, leisure centre revenue, planning fees
  • commercial investment – generated from previously purchased properties, as well as leasing and selling properties in our portfolio.

We also need to make sure we have a healthy level of reserves – to cover contingencies, if we have anything unexpected crop up, or if the amount we receive from central government isn’t as much as we anticipated.

The city, like everywhere, has also been heavily impacted by the pandemic and it’s important Norwich not only has the means to recover, but really thrive.

With limited budgets, it’s critical that we have a good understanding of what’s important to local people – so we’re delivering the right services in the best way possible, and to ensure we have enough money to do this.

The council’s vast array of activities, including the services it provides for residents and how they’re paid for, are guided by our corporate plan – a key document which identifies a number of priorities we continually work to.

The current 2019-22 corporate plan is being reviewed and its priorities updated. We will be consulting on this ahead of the new plan being agreed next year.

Ahead of setting our budget for the new financial year we also want to hear from you.

Later in the year we’ll be detailing our proposals for the 2022-2023 budget – which we’ll publish on the consultations section of our website for comment.

So, thank you if this is something you normally give us your views on, and if it isn’t, why not take a look and make sure your voice is heard?

The final budget will be decided by councillors in February 2022.

Make a change for our climate

The UK is hosting this year’s climate change conference – making it the first time that heads of state, climate experts and campaigners have all got together for such an event in the UK.

A key goal of this year’s 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, also known as COP26, is to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.

The climate talks will bring together all the key people to evaluate progress made towards reducing carbon emissions, and to discuss the next steps in the battle to address the issue.

The conference began on 31 October and runs until 12 November.

Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said: “We’re very happy to support COP26. Only by having a truly collaborative, global approach can we produce the results necessary to ensure the planet remains liveable for future generations.

“We all have our part to play – and it’s our responsibility to make sure Norwich serves as an example of best practice across the nation and the world.

“The council’s operational emissions have dropped 70% since a 2008 baseline, while citywide emissions have fallen by 53% since 2005. These are achievements we can all be very proud of, but it’s not enough.

“That’s why we’ve launched an independent climate commission to discuss what further improvements can be made and how these can be communicated more widely.”

Organisations and groups from the public, private and civic sectors across Norwich will be represented on the commission, which will support the goal of reaching citywide net zero carbon emissions by 2045 – five years ahead of the previous target.

The commission will produce action plans and annual reports to feed into the Norwich 2040 City Vision group as well as other key organisations, networks and communities across the area.

The new commission will be co-chaired by Asher Minns at the UEA-based
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Louise Rawsthorne, executive director of community services at the city council.

Asher Minns said: “The commission will help with thought leadership and partnerships for a low- carbon, healthier, wealthier city that is more resilient to droughts and floods.”

Top winter tips for your outdoor areas

You can prepare your allotment and garden for the winter to improve next year’s blooms and edible delights, as well as protecting wildlife and biodiversity. Here are some top tips to help you along the way…

  1. Laying manure will help protect the soil underneath from any harsh weather – do this any time after the growing season ends.
  2. Get to know your grub and harvest vegetables at the right time – cold conditions can even sweeten some crops!
  3. Avoid walking on frozen garden lawns because it will damage the grass and footprints will be there until spring’s new growth.
  4. Create winter homes and allow breathing spaces for wildlife using leaf and log piles which can be used by hedgehogs and toads for hibernation.
  5. Bees can emerge on days when the weather is milder and can benefit from flowering ivy, crocuses and snowdrops.

The Common Plot has the lot!

The council works closely with several charitable and community groups who maintain allotments.

One of these groups is based at the Valpy Avenue site and run by The Common Lot, a community theatre group. Aptly named ‘The Common Plot’, they inspire community connections and promote good health and wellbeing and are planning to host story evenings and other cultural events on the allotment.

Stay warm for less this winter

With wholesale energy prices currently at a ten year high, and Ofgem having increased the tariff cap, now is a great time to find reliable ways of staying warm for less.

As a council we are committed to reducing fuel poverty in the city, and helping our residents access the best energy deals. That’s why, in 2019, we launched Roar Power (a company set up by roar Powered by the city council which involved it teaming up with Octopus as the energy provider) to offer long term, secure and affordable energy to our residents. Roar Power’s customers have been assured that their provider’s future is secure with Octopus Energy providing credentials to show it is a responsible and well backed company – one of the many reasons we’re so proud to work with them to deliver renewable and reliable energy.

Furthermore, our collective switching service, The Norfolk Energy Switch has, over its lifetime, saved the residents of Norwich over £650,000 and offers 100 per cent renewable electricity as standard.

Our Cosy City scheme can help you find out more about grants to get your homes properly insulated, while our Solar Together scheme can also bring down the cost of installing solar panels.

We are able to support anyone affected by fuel poverty. Contact us at cosycity@norwich.gov.uk if you need assistance, or know somebody who might.

Recovering from the pandemic

COVID -19 recovery plan

As one of the first local councils in the UK to publish a comprehensive Covid -19 recovery plan in June 2020, much progress has been made more than one year on.

The original report set out how the city council would strategically navigate its way through the worst effects of the pandemic, both as a local council and at a wider citywide level, with eight key priority themes and actions to guide recovery.

Some 16 months on, a progress report was presented to cabinet members in October to show the key advances and achievements made since last June.

The main local support services that enabled the country to come out of lockdown safely – local contact tracing, community testing, rapid response to local outbreaks, financial support to those self-isolating, supporting vaccine uptake in hard-to-reach communities – have all been led and delivered by councils like ours.

The progress report gave a flavour of the city council’s response to the pandemic:

  • 14,426 payments issued to Norwich businesses totalling just over £73m since the first lockdown in March 2020, with a further £1m available to provide discretionary grants to support business recovery over the coming months
  • an enhanced Covid contact tracing system saw more than 6,500 people contacted since February of this year
  • close working with local public health colleagues to support major Covid outbreaks in Norwich
  • since last November when the updated report was published, records showed that 94 rough sleepers were placed in safe accommodation – with almost 50 per cent subsequently moving into more settled housing
  • continued delivery against plans to build more high quality, energy efficient homes with 74 homes for private sale built and sold by the council’s housing development company – Norwich Regeneration Company – since last year and plans progressing to build over 200 council homes across a number of city sites
  • new and independent Norwich Climate Commission due to launch in November 2021

Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said: “Our updated Covid recovery report sets out in detail all the incredible work the council has done since last March. It also shows how we have continued to respond to the evolving needs of residents and businesses, while also delivering on our ambitious priorities for the city.”

Covid-19 hit businesses hard, with all being affected to varying degrees: some were mandated to shut, others restricted, and many seeing dramatic dips in trade – but all were forced to change operations in some way.

In the wake of Covid, the government announced a package of support, including grants it asked local councils to administer.

In addition to administering the government’s Local Restrictions Support Grants – designed to support rateable businesses (with fixed premises) mandated to close during national and local restrictions – we received a pot of funding to distribute to those not eligible but in need of support. 

We designed our discretionary grants to meet local need and support businesses which were not made to close, but were significantly impacted. These businesses include those which may not have had fixed premises – such as taxi drivers or those who work in shared office spaces.

In total, through our Additional Restrictions Grants, we’ve paid out more than £4m to 738 businesses since December 2020. One scheme was our Hospitality Adaptations Grant, which provided businesses with funding to enhance their outdoor trading space so they could re-open safely. 

We awarded a total of £386,710 to 84 businesses through this scheme – including businesses like Connaught Kitchen, who said:

“Customers have benefitted massively from being able to sit under the parasols in the rain or shine and we get comments all the time about how great the space is. We would never have been able to afford this without the grant and getting the extra seating outside is paramount to a small business like ours. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Read about our Business Growth Grant, which is open to applications until 31 January 2022, below.

Boost to business growth

We’re putting a call-out to all Norwich micro, small and medium enterprises…

Are you eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 to help your business grow?

If you were trading before 1 April 2021, and a grant between £500 and £10,000 would boost your business, apply to our Business Growth Grant Scheme.

Maybe you’re confident investing in new kit or machinery, bringing current unused space into use, or providing card payment or WiFi facilities would make the world of difference.

Apply now: for funding of up to 50 per cent of the cost of improvements to your business. Applications must be received no later than 31 January 2022 – although the scheme may be closed earlier if funding is fully committed ahead of that date.

Applications must be submitted and approved before any work is carried out or purchases made, which then must be complete before 18 March 2022.

Visit the business grants pages.

More council services coming back under our wing

Work continues to insource a number of important council services which so many of our residents rely on us to provide.

In recent years, the council’s repairs and maintenance and asset management services have been delivered via joint venture arrangements with Norse. But with those arrangements due to come to an end next year, we are continuing with our plans to insource more services which will give the council greater flexibility over their delivery.

From next April the council’s new wholly-owned company, Norwich City Services Limited (NCSL), will take over responsibility for the repairs and maintenance services currently provided by Norwich Norse Building (NNB). The asset management services, currently provided by NPS Norwich, will transfer directly back to the council at the same time.
 
Councillor Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Bringing back these services will allow us to have more direct control over many of the vital services that our residents rely on us to provide.

“As we continue to carry on with all the detailed arrangements to successfully transfer them, our priority is to limit any impact on staff and service delivery.”

A safe roof over everyone’s head

The Norfolk Strategic Housing Partnership was formed to ensure anyone sleeping rough in Norfolk had access to safe accommodation as part of the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ initiative. It went on to develop an ambitious ‘No Homelessness in Norfolk’ strategy.

Currently chaired by the city council’s chief executive, Stephen Evans, the partnership brings together all local authorities in Norfolk with housing associations, health partners, probation services and social enterprises to take a joined-up approach, building on the excellent work being done across the county.

The partnership is working across six themed groups to better understand people’s experiences in seeking, accessing and engaging with support and services. By listening to peoples’ stories, and having individual conversations they aim to inform the direction of travel for homeless services across Norfolk.

Catherine Oliver, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping, said: “Rough sleeping has sadly become an all too familiar sight on our streets – and Norwich is no exception. But the city council, along with a number of expert agencies, is committed to working together through the city council commissioned ‘Pathways’ project to tackle rough sleepers and to ensure that anyone sleeping rough is offered safe accommodation.

“This partnership will carry on with that incredibly important piece of work to learn even more about how we can better shape homelessness services throughout the city and the wider county.”

For more information about ‘No Homelessness in Norfolk’, contact Trish Reed, project manager: trish@partnershipsolutions.co.uk 

Winter weather plans for rough sleepers

When the night-time temperature is predicted to be zero degrees or below for three consecutive nights, emergency plans are activated for rough sleepers under the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

This means, in addition to the continual work done by the city council, partners and local homelessness organisations work together to ensure all rough sleepers are offered safe and secure accommodation.

Colleagues from Pathways (a multi-agency homelessness prevention service to support people sleeping out), homelessness services and the city council will notify potential rough sleepers that emergency accommodation beds are available.

Anyone sleeping rough who wants to access this emergency accommodation can call 0344 980 3333 (this includes an out-of-hours service).

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, you can report this via the national StreetLink website or app at any time. However, if you think there is immediate danger to the health of a rough sleeper please call 999.

Naughty or nice? Find out where your waste should go this Christmas

Want to improve your recycling this Christmas? We’ve drawn up our own naughty and nice lists to help.

Everything on the nice list can go in your recycling bin and should be clean and dry.

Please do not recycle anything on the naughty list through your council collections. Some alternatives may be available, such as taking items to a recycling centre, charity shop or supermarket.

Naughty list:

  • Soft plastics – including crisp packets, sweet wrappers, plastic bags, cling film and cellophane
  • Hard plastics – toys or broken garden furniture, plant pots and polystyrene
  • Sharps items – please dispose of any sharps responsibly
  • Tissues and kitchen wipes
  • Nappies
  • Cutlery, crockery, pots and pans – these cannot be recycled at home, but can be taken to your local recycling centre 
  • Glass cookware and ovenware, drinking glasses or ceramics.

Nice list:

  • Advent calendars – just separate the plastic insert, any foil and the cardboard box
  • Aluminium baking trays
  • Biscuit boxes and inner trays
  • Cardboard, including boxes (if you have you have lots, flatten to fit more in your recycling bin or take to your local recycling centre)
  • Foil from your turkey (this must be clean)
  • Christmas cards (but no glitter please)
  • Food pots, tubs and trays
  • Glass bottles
  • Glass jars – lids can be left on
  • Mince pie packaging – box, plastic tray and foil tins
  • Plastic bottles including drinks, cleaning products, personal care/beauty and medication
  • Wrapping paper – make sure you complete the Scrunch Test.

Don’t forget!

You can also recycle your real Christmas trees at your local recycling centre and food leftovers (including bones) can be put in your food waste bin.

Textiles and small electricals (including batteries) can be left in a standard sized plastic bag next to your bin on collection day and we’ll collect those too.

This Christmas, give your wrapping paper the scrunch test

Once all the wrapping paper has been ripped off your presents on Christmas Day, scrunch it in your hands. If it stays in a ball it can go in your recycling bin. If it springs back, it will need to go in your rubbish bin.

But FREEZE, don’t recycle the wrapping paper if it contains foil or glitter, or has lots of tape on it. Please also remove any ribbons and bows as these cannot be recycled.

New Norwich North recycling centre is open

A new recycling centre has opened near Norwich International Airport, replacing the one which closed in Mile Cross in September.

The new centre is situated in Morse Road, Horsham St Faith, Norwich, NR10 3JX. It’s open from 9am to 4pm during the months of October to March and from 9am to 5pm (seven days a week) from April to September.

Get prepared for a warmer and safer winter

Did you know that every time you light your wood burner or open fire you are polluting your home? While there are benefits from these sources for heating your home, it’s worth understanding and putting into practice how you can reduce the escape of harmful pollutants as much as possible.

New laws in the UK have been made to ensure that the wood you buy and use in burners and fireplaces contain less than 20 per cent water content, as damp wood burns slower and increases the amount of smoke and pollutants released. This dried wood will be clearly labelled by suppliers with a ‘ready to burn’ sticker and certification number to identify it.

When wood is sold in bulk and has not been dried, it must now come with clear instructions on how to store it so the water content will fall below 20 per cent. Other wood burning tips to help reduce pollutants:

  • check the door seals of your burner regularly
  • keep doors open for the shortest possible time when refuelling
  • have the chimney/flue cleaned at least once a year
  • consider purchasing an efficient Ecodesign wood burner to replace existing ones that are over 10 years old.

For more information visit the ready to burn website

This Christmas and new year collection dates

Normal collection day Festive collection day
Monday 27 December Wednesday 29 December
Tuesday 28 December Thursday 30 December
Wednesday 29 December Friday 31 December
Thursday 30 December Tuesday 4 January
Friday 31 December Wednesday 5 January
Monday 3 January Thursday 6 January
Tuesday 4 January Friday 7 January
Wednesday 5 January Saturday 8 January
Thursday 6 January Monday 10 January
Friday 7 January Tuesday 11 January
Monday 10 January Wednesday 12 January
Tuesday 11 January Thursday 13 January
Wednesday 12 January Friday 14 January
Thursday 13 January Saturday 15 January
Friday 14 January Monday 17 January
Monday 17 January Tuesday 18 January
Tuesday 18 January Wednesday 19 January
Wednesday 19 January Thursday 20 January
Thursday 20 January Friday 21 January
Friday 21 January Saturday 22 January

How active is your lifestyle?

Your views are needed to help develop a new sports and physical activity strategy for Greater Norwich.
 
The Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB), which is made up of Norwich City Council, South Norfolk and Broadland District Councils, Norfolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, identifies and secures funding for a range of projects to benefit those living and working in the Greater Norwich area.
 
It is currently working on a strategy, match funded by Sport England, that aims to help transform the health, wellbeing and quality of life for people in the area by creating opportunities for people to become more active.

Everyone living in Norwich and the surrounding area, whether they play sports, cycle, walk or aren’t physically active at all, is invited to take part in an online survey about exercise, active commuting and how their routines might have changed during the pandemic. This information is key to developing the strategy.

There are two surveys available. One for those aged over 16 and one for under 16. To take part in either, visit www.norwich.gov.uk/activitysurvey or contact FMG Consulting who are working with the GNGB on the strategy. Call 0330 4000 481 to request a paper copy of the survey.

Everyone over the age of 16 who takes part will be put in a draw to win one of three Amazon vouchers worth £100, £75 and £50. The survey will run until 5pm on 10 December.

Work underway on building new homes

Work got underway in October on a city council-led project to build much needed council homes on the site of the former Kings Arms pub in Mile Cross.

It marked the culmination of several years’ work on the site – which had been standing empty for more than a decade, becoming a target for fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour.

The plot was bought by the council from its previous owner through a compulsory purchase order last year, after it remained undeveloped.

Planning permission was then given to build five homes on the site, designed to a ‘fabric first’ approach to reduce energy use. Their high environmental standards will ensure that energy bills are minimised for future residents.

Councillor Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for social housing, said: “This project not only meets the council’s priorities of building and maintaining good quality social housing to meet demand, but it also gives us the opportunity to repurpose and adapt a problem site into something positive for Norwich residents.

“This is a great development for the city and adds to the city council’s growing housing stock. “It also sends a strong message to private owners who fail to develop their assets, that the city council will not stand by and allow land that could be put to good social use sit idle and be wasted. We will always seize every opportunity to build desperately needed top quality homes for people in our city”.

Broadland Housing Association is project managing the work, which is expected to be completed next autumn.

Shaping up the vision for east Norwich

Work continues to develop a masterplan, which will inform and guide decisions on the future regeneration of east Norwich.

The purpose of a masterplan is to lay out a vision for future regeneration of an area and to provide a framework for comprehensive development.

Nearly 200 people attended an initial public drop-in at the historic Carrow Works in July 2021 with the opportunity to meet the team and find out more about the master planning process and provide comments on their priorities, perspectives and concerns for east Norwich, while hundreds fed in via an online survey.

Connecting the city with The Broads, promoting heritage assets, and protecting biodiversity were just some comments expressed.

During October, the public were given a further chance to engage in the process at a second drop-in event. This included an exhibition detailing project progress and showing how previous feedback had been used to shape up the masterplan. People were also invited to give their views via an online survey.

Find out more on the East Norwich Regeneration.

Next steps

The concept masterplan once approved will be refined and adapted and taken forward into a draft supplementary planning document and will be subject to formal consultation. This master planning process is likely to be complete by spring 2022.

Supplementary planning documents build upon and provide more detailed advice or guidance on policies in an adopted local plan – in our case, the Greater Norwich Local Plan. They can’t introduce new planning policies but are a material consideration in decision making.

Investing in our fine city

We were awarded £25m at the end of 2020 from the (then called) Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to deliver eight key projects. Developed in partnership with the Norwich 2040 City Vision group, local communities, partners and public/private investors; these projects will provide a highly significant boost to deliver major regeneration alongside skills, infrastructure and jobs. Here’s what we’ve been up to…

Watch this space

The first steps to transform The Halls into a state-of-the-art building to best meet the needs of future artists and audiences has taken place with the installation of new modern gallery seating.

This work is part of a wider project, funded by the government’s Towns Fund, which will see investment in facilities to improve audience experience such as audio visual, sound proofing, and increased digital capacity, as well as redesign to improve flow and accessibility.

Leader of the city council and co-chair of Norwich 2040 Vision board, Cllr Alan Waters, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to see this Norwich Town Deal project start to take shape with the new seating being installed.

“The Halls is such a important historic landmark for the city, but it’s got so much potential to develop further as a cultural hub, giving access to art and creativity to residents and visitors, as well as attracting performers from all over the world.”

Bringing the interior up to scratch in terms of improving audience experience is just the first phase of The Halls project. There are also future plans to adapt The Halls so it can be used as an advanced digital-making space, enabling local organisations and artists to create content that can be digitally distributed, opening up new opportunities, revenue streams and audiences.

Fancy a night out at The Halls? Check out what’s on The Halls website.

Supporting business growth

Thanks to our Town Deal funding, we’ve recently purchased the historic Carrow House complex in east Norwich – a strategic move which will contribute hugely to our ambitious plans to regenerate the area.

The complex will be used to provide much-needed office space for smaller and start-up businesses. Cllr Mike Stonard, the city council’s cabinet member for inclusive and sustainable growth, said: “The city council’s purchase of Carrow House marks the start of our ambitious plan to create more homes and more jobs for Norwich.

“Refurbishing and repurposing this important Grade II listed building will provide 50,000 square feet of floorspace for a range of start-ups and small businesses.”

Digi-tech

The new Digi-Tech factory is now open with students in and learning. Part funded by Towns Fund, the new facility aims to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in a digital world.

Did you know

Out of 101 cities that received Town Deal funding, we were among the first few to get the go ahead from the government to proceed with all our planned projects. You can read more about these on our Town Deal pages.

Norwich – a social enterprise place

Norwich has recently been awarded Social Enterprise Place status by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK).

Social enterprises are businesses with a dedicated social or environmental purpose that reinvest their profits to benefit their communities. This new status for Norwich is in recognition of the value and importance that the city places on its social enterprises.

The council works with partners to support a healthy ecosystem of these organisations within the city.

Social enterprise stats for Norwich

  • 53 social enterprises in the city
  • 2,714 people employed by social enterprises
  • £107m total turnover

Examples of social enterprises in Norwich are:

  • The Forum, a renowned community hub in the heart of Norwich with spaces to work, meet and engage with others 
  • Bicycle Links, a retail business selling and servicing bikes for a diverse range of customers 
  • The Feed, a catering service and café providing work experience and training to those facing barriers to employment
  • The Village Orchard East, an enterprise providing and arranging vital mental health support. 

Find out more on the Norwich Good Economy website

Can you help people stay connected?

We’re on the lookout for volunteers to help people get online.

Our digital inclusion volunteering programme, managed by Voluntary Norfolk in partnership with the city council, is designed to enable people to live fuller, more independent lives through learning basic digital skills, and gaining digital confidence.

Whether it’s about looking for a new job online or keeping in touch with friends and family, our volunteers are crucial in supporting those who need guidance in making the best use of digital tools.

You don’t have to be a digital expert yourself – all you need is a willing attitude, patience and enthusiasm for helping others. You will join an amazing team of other volunteers supporting people to make the most of the online world.

Maureen Alsopp, one of our volunteers, who has been helping out for more than five years said: “Where I have been volunteering, I feel like I have made a positive impact on that person’s life and their feedback often reflects this.

“I’ve also found that many people don’t want to use the internet by themselves at first and having a volunteer to provide that initial support can really increase confidence.”

To find out more about volunteering for this project, visit our website and search ‘digital inclusion’.

Norwich counts down to Christmas!

Five weeks of festive fun are set to land in the city centre as we reveal our first ever Norwich ‘Countdown to Christmas’ for 2021

City shoppers and diners will be able to enjoy a selection box of entertainment every Sunday in the run up to the big day. From choirs and dance groups to jolly characters and Father Christmas himself, there will be something to help everyone step into Christmas.

This five part series of pop-up events will replace the council’s previously familiar events schedule at this time of year, such as Spooky City and Big Boom.

Countdown to Christmas will provide an opportunity for families and performers alike to be part of a range of outdoor celebrations with smaller crowds than those at the traditional switch on event which attracts thousands of people.

Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said: “It’s wonderful to see the city really coming to life again after such a challenging 18 months.

“I am delighted at the prospect of this series of festive performances, which will offer a charming alternative to our usual events programme.”

City centre illuminations, including Norwich BID’s Tunnel of Light, will appear from Tuesday 16 November.

The schedule for the Countdown to Christmas will be revealed in November, and will be published at www.norwich.gov.uk/events 

The return of Love Light Norwich 

Free festival Love Light Norwich will take place from Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 February 2022.

Hosted by Norwich BID, with support from the city council, the festival is designed to showcase the city in all its stunning beauty. It will conjure up magical experiences in the streets of Norwich through light, fire, collaborative exhibitions, music, and much-loved landmarks transformed into vibrant artworks.

The event returns after the brilliant success in 2020, where 15,000 people enjoyed the performance, projections, procession, and amazing installations.

For 2022, Love Light Norwich will once again offer amazing free entertainment, brightening the dark February nights, and celebrating the City of Stories.

Norwich Market has it all this Christmas

With Christmas right around the corner, why not shop this year at one of the largest and finest open air markets in the country?

We’re so proud of the variety of wares on offer at our fabulous Norwich Market, and there really is something for everyone in the build up to the festive period.

Whether you’re in need of gifts for your family, or something to wear on Christmas Day, we’re pretty sure it’ll have you covered.

We’re very lucky to have such a diverse range of food and drink stalls on our doorstep – so if  you’re looking for something delicious to serve up on Christmas Day or you fancy treating yourself to a special tipple or two to welcome in the New Year, the market is the place to be.

And in light of the importance of the climate change agenda, shopping local is a great way to do your bit to protect the environment too! It limits the greenhouse gasses produced during transit, and usually cuts down on excess packaging
as well.

Shopping on the stalls is also a great way to support the local economy here in Norwich. Happy shopping one and all!

Top tips from team over the festive spell

Remember when you buy your food from the market to:

  • Pack raw and ready to eat foods in different shopping bags to avoid cross contamination.
  • Once at home, keep your food stored at the appropriate temperature.
  • Clean your hands before preparing any food.
  • Remember to check the guidance on your turkey and other meat so you have enough time to fully defrost it – this can take as long as four days.
  • Don’t wash your raw turkey as it can splash germs onto you and your counter-tops.
  • Check everything is prepared and cooked properly before serving so remember to read any instructions carefully.

…and don’t forget that you can re-use any leftover turkey in other meals, like a turkey curry (yum!). You can even freeze a freshly prepared meal – just make sure you let it cool properly before you freeze it and make sure you only reheat it once.

Civic charity appeal

Home-Start Norfolk was chosen to be our civic charity for 2021-22 by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Dr Kevin Maguire, and Sheriff of Norwich, Caroline Jarrold.

The charity aims to give children the best start in life, working with parents to address difficulties at the earliest opportunity for the greatest impact.

Recent statistics reveal that Norwich has 34 per cent, or 9,497 children living in poverty (End Child Poverty Coalition, 2020), which is the highest level in the whole of Norfolk. Combined with this, and the impact of the Covid pandemic exacerbating challenges for the most vulnerable families, demand for family support in Norwich is growing. All funds raised through the civic appeal will go directly towards the costs of supporting Norwich-based families.

The case study below demonstrates the amazing work done by Home-Start Norfolk.

A joint message from the Lord Mayor and Sheriff

“For parents who may be finding family life with young children overwhelming, the support Home-Start Norfolk provides will be seen as a lifeline – whether that’s a much needed listening ear, to help managing finances, bespoke help to ensure young ones get the best start. We are in awe of the work the team does and proud we can play a role in helping get the word out about it.”

Katie’s story

Katie has suffered from anxiety for most of her life, so when she got divorced and moved with her baby son to a new area, it was always going to be tough. Her son, Bailey, also suffers from autoimmune neutropenia, which means that he can’t fight infections when he gets them – effectively he has no immune system.

Katie’s health visitor recognised she was struggling and suggested that she contact Home-Start Norfolk.

Katie said: “The comfort and support that Amanda (from Home-Start) gives me means that I feel more confident about taking Bailey out. It’s never going to be risk free, because of his illness, but she’s helped me find out-of-the- way places to visit and taught me strategies if someone tries to touch him. She’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m so grateful for that.

“There’s no other service like Home-Start because it’s for me as well as Bailey, and that’s the most important thing. Everyone else who visits your home is all about the kids. That’s well and good but when you’re in a predicament like I was, well, Home-Start was the only organisation that could help me.”

Read Katie’s full story on the Home Start Norfolk website.

Merry Christmas We’re encouraging everyone to 

We’re encouraging everyone to (safely!) enjoy the amazing things the city has to offer residents and visitors throughout the festive season.

Have fun and stay safe.