‘Shock’ as Isabel Blackman Centre in St Leonards could be closed

The Royal Voluntary Service is considering closing the Isabel Blackman Centre in St Leonards due to the cost of repairs to the building.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 4:13 pm
The Royal Voluntary Service Isabel Blackman Centre in South Street, St Leonards. Photo: Google Image

The centre in South Street, St Leonards, is used as a meeting place for the charity as well as other community groups and consists of a main hall, a meeting room and a large kitchen.

It was closed last Thursday (May 2) following the results of a recent building survey.

Rebecca Kennelly, director of volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We are in the process of reviewing the activities at the Isabel Blackman Centre and exploring the option of closure taking into account the results of the Building Conditions Survey and the costs of the necessary repairs.

“Like many charities, we are currently operating in a very challenging environment with fewer resources and increasing demand and as a result, we can’t fund the repairs and ongoing costs of the centre ourselves.

“The wellbeing of older people in St Leonards and Hastings is important to us and we recognise the activities and services that take place at the Centre are wanted and needed by the community.

“This means we are committed to exploring alternative models of service provision in the local community.”

The news of the potential closure was announced to volunteers and customers who hire the hall at a meeting at the St Nicholas Centre in London Road on Wednesday.

Jon Dunham, service manager of the centre, said: “I am as shocked as every volunteer, daily member and community group that use the centre.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure the community is kept up to date.”

He added that another meeting was planned at the St Nicholas Centre on Wednesday, May 22, from 1pm to 3pm.

The news follows the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre in Hastings’ Winding Street, which shut at the end of March following a decision by East Sussex County Council.