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