So­cial cen­tre shuts after build­ing dam­aged in storm

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Aidan Bar­low

A com­mu­nity cen­tre for the el­derly has been shut after thun­der­storms left the build­ing swamped and stricken with struc­tural prob­lems.

The Joe Fagg pop-in cen­tre first opened in St John’s Lane in Ash­ford in 1972, and is now op­er­ated by the char­ity Age UK.

But on Fri­day last week hun­dreds of vis­i­tors and staff were told that ser­vices would have to be moved to Stan­hope, after fears the build­ing could be dam­aged be­yond re­pair.

Signs warned vis­i­tors that the dam­age to the roof has left al­most the en­tire build­ing flooded and Age UK man­ager Jenny Dou­ble said a builder told them that a struc­tural en­gi­neer and sur­veyor would be needed to as­sess the dam­age.

She said: “It’s been build­ing up for a while now. It’s pretty bad, so we’ve closed it to en­sure ev­ery­body is safe.

“The ceil­ing has been bowed out in sev­eral places and the sup­port­ing struc­tures have great big cracks. Eight bucket fulls of water have sat­u­rated the car­pets. So un­til we can be ab­so­lutely as­sured about safety then we won’t put any­one at risk.”

She said 110 peo­ple visit the cen­tre ev­ery week for a range of ser­vices that are now be­ing re­or­gan­ised at the cen­tre in Stan­hope, where peo­ple can pick up hear­ing aid bat­ter­ies be­tween 9am and 3pm each day.

Among the groups af­fected is the Cogs club which pro­vides sup­port for peo­ple suf­fer­ing with mul­ti­ple de­men­tia.

Jenny added: “Ob­vi­ously it’s very sad. Joe Fagg put up the cen­tre in 1972 as a tem­po­rary build­ing, but it seems to have been there for­ever. So this has caused great up­heaval, and we now face some se­ri­ous fundrais­ing to get back to nor­mal.

“It is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, but it will have to be man­age­able un­til we can be sure ex­actly what the sit­u­a­tion is. You just have to keep go­ing and adapt to the sit­u­a­tion you find your­self in.”

Ash­ford Age UK trustees will meet on Thurs­day, Au­gust 4 where the fu­ture of the build­ing will be dis­cussed.

In the mean­time ser­vices such as chi­ropody, Cogs, and the in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice ser­vices have moved to the Stan­hope cen­tre in Stan­hope Road.

Hi Kent hear­ing aid bat­ter­ies can be col­lected at the nearby Ash­ford Gate­way (for­merly the li­brary) in Church Road from the help desk dur­ing li­brary open­ing hours.

Pic­ture: FM4400892

The Joe Fagg pop-in cen­tre has closed after the build­ing was bat­tered by thun­der­storms and suf­fered struc­tural dam­age

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