Shoreham community group calls for answers amid closure fears

A Shoreham community group said it fears it may have to close after being told to remove as much of its belongings as it can from the centre it runs at.

Southlanders hire the community centre at Milward Court in Wilmot Road but said it has been told by Southern Housing – the managing agent – to remove its belongings.

Southlanders committee members Ann Martin, Angela Young, Nigel Carpenter and Keith Humphrey. Photo by Kate Shemilt

Southlanders committee members Ann Martin, Angela Young, Nigel Carpenter and Keith Humphrey. Photo by Kate Shemilt

Ann Martin, chairman for the group, said: “We have been told there isn’t enough storage and we have to clear out our things.

“We are feeling anxious and a little bit victimised, having been there for so long – to suddenly have this thrown at us.

“When we asked why we were told it is due to fire risks, which we don’t understand as the area we use for storage is not a fire exit.

“We have cleared out our room already, but if the cafe has to go, that will be it. I am hoping to put together a meeting to find out exactly what is going on.”

Photo by Kate Shemilt

Photo by Kate Shemilt

Southlanders was originally set up in 2005 by a small group of residents, and has continued to grow into an active organisation working to bring people together in the community.

It is self-funded and relies on active fundraising to continue running. The group meet on Monday and Friday mornings.

The group’s cafe has been open for 12 years. As well as drinks and snacks, guests can use computers for a small donation and there is often talks and demonstrations by various organisations, and activities, such as bingo.

“We have all got to know each other,” said Mrs Martin, adding: “We are open to all ages. There is a lot of loneliness about so we have people coming in on a regular basis.”

Angela Young, a volunteer, said the cafe is popular, with 20 to 30 people coming on some days.

“Some people wouldn’t see anybody if they didn’t come here,” she said, adding: “We would like to know what is going on.”

A spokesman for Southern Housing said: “Southern Housing Group’s priority is the safety of our residents and everyone who uses our properties. We work with all the relevant authorities to ensure that our residents are provided with safe spaces in which to bring communities together.

“We want to ensure that all groups using the community day centre at Milward Court, Shoreham are supported when using our facilities.

“As part of our regular organisation-wide fire safety regulations review, the fire officer asked us to make some changes to safety processes, which we have done.

“We ask that everyone using the community day centre, as well as any other Southern Housing Group property, adhere to the regulations set out in our fire safety risk assessments to ensure that everyone is working and using our properties as safely as possible.”