Fears for Romford historic youth club made homeless

THE FUTURE of one of Havering’s oldest clubs for special need adults is looking bleak after it had to move out of a community hall it has used for 25 years.

The 3H Youth Club (Havering Handicapped and Helpers Club) was told last week that it could no longer use Century Youth House, Albert Road, Romford because it will be used as a pupil referral unit.

Chairman of 3H Youth Club, Mike Palfreman said: “If we cannot find another hall that we can afford, then it is in danger of being closed.

“It would be a shame because there are at least 60 young adults with special needs who use the club reguarly and see it as a key social network.”

Last week, the volunteers who run 3H Youth Club and the five other clubs that use the centre – including the award-winning Stage One Theate Company – received letters from Havering Council saying that they have until April to move before the hall is taken over by the unit for children expelled from school.

The 3H Youth Club, who use the centre three times a week, and Stage One claim that they have not had any help from the council in finding an alternative location.

Stage One’s administrative director Jai Sepple said: “It would be a shame if the company had to come to an end because we have been rehearsing at Century House for 10 years and over that time we have achieved so much. To close would just be a step back.

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“We have been trying desperately to get assistance from the council and more speicifcally the Havering Youth Services, but we have been offered no alternatives and no assistance.”

Stage One Theatre Company have set up a petition which has already been signed by 300 people against the council’s decision to move them out of the Century Youth House.

They are also appealing for help in finding an alternative hall to rehearse in at a low price.

Jai said: “The council are apparently striving to build a better community but the realism is that they are now forcing a number of community groups to disband.”

Head of Children & Young People’s Services, Eifion Price said: “Following an Ofsted report into Century House a decision was made that the building should be primarily for educational purposes, as a result a number of community groups may no longer be able to use the building from April 11.

“We will however, continue to work with these groups to see if we can find suitable venues for them and we will be in contact with them to discuss their options.”

A copy of the petition can be found out http://www.petition.co.uk/essex-theatre-company-forced-to-disband-by-lea-and-lbh.