Kids' club left homeless for second time in a year

Echo: Kids' club left homeless for second time in a year Kids' club left homeless for second time in a year

A POPULAR social club for children with and without disabilities has been left homeless after its base closed suddenly.

Southend Junior Phab club is without a permanent meeting place for the second time this year after the closure of DV8 Studios, in Leigh.

The club, which has 40 members, began meeting in Leigh Youth Centre, behind Leigh Community Centre, earlier this year, but had to go when Southend Council gave permission for it to be demolished.

Phab found a new home at DV8 studios, in Pall Mall, in the summer, but has now again been left out in the cold.

Chairwoman Jenny Drewer said: “It’s been a complete headache this year. I had a message on Facebook that DV8 had been evicted by the landlord.

“Its left us with nowhere to meet, which is a shame, especially at this time of year.

”Luckily, the landlord was good to us and let us in to get our equipment. But we’ve had to stop our weekly meetings and the children keep asking when we’ll be open again.”

The situation has proved costly for the group too.

Jenny added: “When we moved, DV8 said they’d make changes to make the building more adaptable to disabled people.

"But as time went on, nothing was being done. We gave £1,000 towards that from our fundraising, and I don’t hold out much hope of getting it back.”

DV8’s website or phone number is no longer active.

The closure of the building, which had a gym, has affected other local organisations as it was hired by youth clubs, drama and dance classes.

Southend Junior Phab, catering for seven to 16-year-olds, provides time for children with physical and learning disabilities to integrate with other children in a safe environment.

The last move led to the loss of some members and Jenny is concerned the same will happen again, particularly if the club can’t stay in Leigh, where most members live.

Fortunately, the group, which meets on Wednesday evenings, has been given free storage for a month for all itsr sports, instruments, kitchen, and arts and craft equipment.

For its new home, the club needs plenty of storage, disabled access, a kitchen and two meeting rooms, one asamain activity area and another as a quiet space. If you can help, call Jenny on 07709 913748 or e-mail jenny

*THE landlord of the building says he is owed £10,000 by DV8 Studios.

Owner Mark Higgins said the lease was taken out in January for three years.

Mr Higgins said: “We were paid in January, but haven’t been paid since. We’re owed £10,000.’’ He said Wayne Barnard, of DV8 Studios, had been subletting to various people and taking their rent, “but not paying anything to us.

“I offered to work with him, for him to pay his rent arrears. An agreement was reached, starting in November. However, after excuses, we weren’t paid and so I instructed bailiffs.“

Possession of the hall was taken back and Mr Higgins has allowed some groups to collect belongings, and agreed for some Christmas events, including a fair tomorrow, to take place.

The day nursery which operates there has also been able to continue.

Mr Barnard told the Echo he had refunded money owed to groups that were booked in to the hall.

He said: “Yes, I have been evicted due to lack of funds. I had been paying rent into the wrong account for nine months and the landlord only noticed nine months in.

“It was a start-up company and I did not have nine months’ rent to pay him. I had no option but to close. I have refunded any money that was owed to groups that had booked.’’


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