The chairman of Love Dereham has unveiled the group’s vision for social action as people across the town struggle to pay rapidly-rising bills.

Keith Mersh, who took the helm in June 2021, revealed the charity was planning a number of initiatives designed to help those in need.  They include a social supermarket, life skills course, children’s clothing bank, launderette and shower provision and advice sessions on energy conservation. The intention is to offer all these services under one roof.

Love Dereham is therefore on the hunt for a suitable base and is currently in conversations about a potential site.

Explaining the vision, Mr Mersh said: “Up to now, Love Dereham has had a job club, it runs the community fridge and we’ve had something called ‘Let’s Chat’ for people who need somebody to talk to.  But, back in February, I started to have this vision of an enlargement of what Love Dereham could be.  What this will initially be is all the town’s churches working together for the good of the community, and what we hope to be is a catalyst for wider community action.  Already, we’ve had a lot of expressions of support, and I’m hopeful we can get some significant funding to help bring this to pass.”

Love Dereham was originally set up in 2011 by Dereham Baptist Church as a charity and limited company.

Love Dereham was set up back in 2011 by Dereham Baptist Church. After almost a decade of offering various means of support, proceedings largely ground to a halt at the height of the pandemic.  However, Mr Mersh came in last year to try and resurrect its activities, and is keen to take things to a new level.

In helping to set out the charity’s wider vision, the 67-year-old has been heavily influenced by Thetford’s Charles Burrell Centre, in which 50 local organisations are based.  “This is about providing a go-to place for people in need of any help,” added Mr Mersh. “If we can’t help them, we’ll signpost to somebody who can.  The cost of living crisis has definitely intensified what we’re doing, and has brought us to a point of thinking ‘we have got to do something quickly’.”

To get involved with Love Dereham’s vision, call the charity’s coordinator Athena Poole on 07749 687981 or email

(Source: Dereham Times)