Pictured: Breckland Council leader, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Lady Dannatt MBE, Breckland Chairman, Cllr Mike Nairn and Emma Ratzer MBE from Access Community Trust.

The Lady Dannatt MBE, who is the Queen’s representative in Norfolk, officially opened Thetford’s Elm House, a former pre-school which has been refurbished by Breckland Council at a total cost of £1.8 million.

A new centre which provides temporary accommodation to people in need of short-term housing was officially opened by The Lord Lieutenant for Norfolk today (31 May).

It provides temporary housing for up to 35 people including single adults, couples and families in Breckland, and is managed by Access Community Trust on behalf of Breckland Council.

Lady Dannatt toured the building, met with residents and project partners involved in the building’s development. At the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, she commented: “I am truly humbled to see the fantastic work taking place here in Elm House. The staff and facilities are simply tremendous, helping local people when they need it most. The support and facilities truly offer a life changing opportunity, I therefore offer my congratulations to everyone involved in delivering this project.”

Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, leader of Breckland Council, said: “Our investment into Elm House means we have even more high-quality temporary accommodation support available to Breckland residents, including those who have been previously made homeless or need short-term support while they find a permanent place to live.

“Elm House is just one way we are working to help our residents. We are currently in our third year of our Inspiring Communities programme, a £1m investment into projects which support survivors of domestic abuse, residents needing mental health advice, and tackling social isolation, drug or alcohol addictions, or homelessness.”

Emma Ratzer MBE, Chief Executive Access Community Trust, who operate the centre, commented: ““Access are incredibly proud to be delivering this service alongside Breckland Council. Providing much needed community support at a time when more and more families are struggling will be a huge benefit to our communities, our residents and our statutory partners. Access has a 46 year history of providing accommodation based support during some really challenging and chaotic times and I am pleased to add Elm House to our important work”.