The Hamlet Centre: Supporting people with disabilities

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The Hamlet offers a range of services for children and adults with severe disabilities and complex needs in Norwich. It’s used a Charity Bank loan to expand its day centre. Read more…

Social Problem

According to a Mencap survey, over 30% of people who have a learning disability report feeling lonely, and almost 15% avoid going out because they’re worried about being bullied. Day centres provide a vital service but are often oversubscribed, due in part to cuts in social care funding over the last few years.

Ann Way, a former trustee of The Hamlet Centre, shares, “Council services have been vastly reduced over the years, and the adult training centres, which many disabled people would have used in the past, have mostly closed.”


The Hamlet Centre runs services for children and adults with severe disabilities and complex health needs, including a pre-school, play scheme, over 16s social club, and respite breaks. It’s one of very few organisations in Norwich that still runs a day centre for young adults. Students can take part in a range of activities, from arts and craft to computer games, and socialise in a friendly, welcoming environment. CEO Ellie Coulson says, “The uncertain financial climate in the UK and increasing pressure on public services means that we are a lifeline for many people who would otherwise not have access to the opportunities they deserve.”


The Hamlet’s adult day centre building is a former Victorian school. Ann explains, “We’ve extended it and altered it as much as we possibly can, but there are some things that we can’t change. For instance, it has narrow corridors and narrow doorways, which make it difficult to manoeuvre the huge equipment that people with disabilities often need. We were reaching the point where if we couldn't find new premises, we’d have been forced to reduce numbers, which would have been awful.”

The charity started looking for a new property to move to, and contacted Charity Bank about a loan. Sadly, the property The Hamlet wanted to buy fell through as the charity couldn’t get planning permission. Ann says, “Charity Bank was very understanding; Danny said, ‘Don't despair, something else will turn up.’ And lo and behold, it did.”

The building next door to The Hamlet’s adult day centre came up for sale. The charity’s offer was accepted and plans are underway to connect the two buildings, giving the charity far more space, improved access and a new garden.

Along with the loan, Charity Bank was able to organise a £15,000 grant from the Reach Fund, which covered most of the professional costs including the fees for a structural engineer, solicitor, and surveyor.

“Charity Bank bent over backwards to help us. Danny genuinely seemed to care about what we were trying to achieve. It felt like he was truly invested in us.”

Ann Way, a former trustee at The Hamlet


The Hamlet has been able to offer more adult placements now that it has the extra space. It’s also launched a new service from the centre – Hamlet at Home – which sees staff supporting disabled people and their families out in the community.

“I go to college three days a week. I go to the Hamlet two days a week. I like it at The Hamlet. I get to see my friends.”

A student at The Hamlet

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,200 loans totalling over £450m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.