Your Housing locks pensioners out of luncheon club
A COMMUNITY centre which has acted as a social hub for residents for more than a decade has closed.
Pensioners attending the weekly Luncheon Club at the Hammersley Hayes Community House were left out on the street last Thursday after building owners Your Housing changed the locks without notice.
The Hammersley Hayes Community House was provided to residents of Hammersley Hayes and the wider community of Cheadle by housing provider Your Housing more than ten years ago.
Over the course of the past decade the facility, located in Dovedale Close, has been the setting for mum and toddler meetings, a children’s craft club, job and career advice sessions as well as a thriving luncheon club and has grown to become a valued and well used community asset.
It came as a real blow therefore when pensioners began arriving at the centre for lunch and bingo last Thursday, 27th July, only to find that Your Housing had changed the locks.
The Community House is managed by volunteers from the Hammersley Hayes Resident Action Group (HHRAG). HHRAG trustee and Cheadle Town Councillor, Ian Whitehouse commented: “It is a very sad day. For some of theses pensioners the luncheon club is the only time they actually go out or have a cooked meal. It is going to have a big impact.
“We had a meeting with Your Housing three months ago when they told us they wanted the house back.
“We offered to pay rent or to purchase the building at market value but they didn’t seem interested, they’ve not given us a chance.
“Over the years we have constantly raised money for the premises. We have paid for the addition of a large conservatory and also made other improvements including the installation of a new toilet door to improve disabled access.
“They have tried to imply that the house isn’t suitable and that disabled access isn’t good enough but it’s worked perfectly well for the last 12 years.”
Also commenting on the loss of the building Brenda Mills, co-ordinator of the luncheon club, added: “We told Your Housing we would pay rent or buy the house but they never came back to us with an answer.
“Our eldest member is 94 years old and we have lots of people in their 80s and 90s. They are devastated and many of them just won’t go out now.
“The toilet has disabled access, there are ramps in and out of the building and lots of rails. We have people in wheelchairs and who use walking frames and none of them struggle to access the building.
“Our group is totally self sufficient, we have never asked for anything and have always done our own fundraising.
“Members enjoy hot meals every week, we arrange for them to go out for a free meal at Christmas and we run subsidised trips throughout the year.
“It is unbelieveable that we have just been locked out – all of our things are still in that building!
“We had a collection of things to sell at a car boot sale this weekend to raise money but we’ve no way of getting in.”
Helping the group to campaign against the move, Councillor Julie Bull commented: “Your Housing had asked the group to leave, however they did not issue them with an official notice to quit. All they gave them was a notice to quit using the property free of charge.
“The Action Group responded by offering to pay rent or purchase the property but instead Your Housing have locked them out of the building.
“The house has been a great asset to the community and has improved Hammersley Hayes beyond recognition. It isn’t just a building, it has brought a sense of camaraderie to the people who live there and they take such pride in it.”
Also commenting, Cheadle Town Councillor Ron Locker said: “It would be nice one day if something opens – I’m just sick of things closing. It’s sad – it’s another service that our senior people have lost.”
An application to nominate the facility as an asset of community value has been lodged with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
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