Flood forces youth charity out of home

This Is Wiltshire: Project manager Paul Dobson and senior project worker Tracey Dobson tidy up at the STEP centre. Picture: STUART HARRISON Buy this photo » Project manager Paul Dobson and senior project worker Tracey Dobson tidy up at the STEP centre. Picture: STUART HARRISON

A YOUTH support charity has been flooded out of its home after recent storms tore part of the roof off and rainwater severely damaged the building and equipment.

Swindon Ten to Eighteen Project (STEP) were one of several community groups left needing to find temporary homes after the Nythe Centre, off The Drive, was battered by high winds and heavy rain.

The charity, which moved into the council-owned community building a couple of years ago, supports up to 60 young people with behavioural and learning difficulties across the town and will now be rehoused at the Westbourne Youth Centre in Westcott Street.

Swindon Council have said they will be sending surveyors out in the near future to assess the damage and the electricity supply has been switched off for safety reasons.

Paul Dobson, project manager for the 30-year-old charity, said staff first noticed damage just before Christmas.

He said: “We went back in on Christmas Eve to pick up some post and parts of the roof felt had blown off and was in the car park. The council patched it up with a tarpaulin but unfortunately lots of water has got in.

“I got as wet inside as I would have done outside when it rained yesterday morning. The roof tiles were falling in too and one fell within a foot of me when we were in there looking at the damage.

“The floors are soaked and anything on a desk has been sitting in a pool of water. We are not sure what we have lost until we have been through everything but there were two desktops, four laptops and four printers in the offices.

“Due to water getting into the structure we have neither electricity or phone lines, and with the building being unsafe we had put all projects and sessions on hold.”

It means the charity had been left looking for alternative temporary accommodation and Swindon Council have helped them in their search.

Paul said: “The sessions were supposed to start up again next week and so we thought we might have to suspend all the sessions for an unknown amount of time but the council have been fantastic and found us somewhere to go.

“We will be basing our sessions and our offices out of the Westbourne Centre in the town centre and they’ve told us it might take until March to get Nythe back together. The support from people has been great.”

A spokesman for Swindon Council said: “We will be sending someone in to do a detailed assessment of the damage as soon as we can and we have turned the electrical supply off as a precaution until that is done.

“We have helped in the search for somewhere else. It is too early to tell what the time-frame for repairs is.”

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