A COMMUNITY centre in Leamington is facing a repair bill of more than £2,500 after being plagued by vandals.
The SYDNI Centre, on the Sydenham estate, provides essential services for residents, but this summer has been the victim of escalating vandalism to its Cottage Square building and grounds.
Distressed staff have told the Observer they fear that if the vandalism continues it could impact severely on the charity’s ability to operate.
Reports of vandalism include the dismantling of two special memorial benches in the garden, stakes supporting trees being pulled up and a broken window. The ‘Welcome to the Garden’ sign was also damaged, which was particularly upsetting to the volunteer garden group.
Staff and volunteers were also horrified to discover that the contents of the skip they had filled during a clear out had been emptied and strewn around the children’s playground.
The centre has CCTV recordings and has reported the incidents to the police, who are investigating.
Most of the incidents have involved young people, and staff have been concerned to see these youngsters putting their lives in danger by climbing up onto the centre roof.
The cost to the SYDNI centre is now estimated at well over £2,500, much of which will have to come out of grants and donations, which it can ill afford to replace.
The Syndi Centre has been serving a community of over 10,000 residents for over 20 years. It aims to offer a safe and welcoming place for all residents and provides support, drop-in sessions, group work and hosts events.
The services included range from mental health support, sports activities, arts and craft groups and bingo, to education such as ESOL classes and English and maths classes for children.
Centre manager Helen Jones said the damage impacted on all the people who used the centre and she was fearful any further damage could have an effect on the centre’s ability to run activities and hire out rooms.
She continued: “It’s so distressing to see this vandalism. My staff and volunteers are working so hard to provide the community of Sydenham with a safe and pleasant place to come. I want to stress to the few individuals involved in these incidents, the importance of the centre as a vital resource for all in the community to enjoy.”
Warwickshire Police has been approached for comment.