OLDER PEOPLE in Stoke Prior have called on Bromsgrove District Housing Trust to replace a community hub which provided a lifeline for the housebound before it was closed by the housing provider.
The Shac was used by residents, whose ages range from 58 to 84, for bingo, craft nights and fund-raisers for numerous charities, including Help for Heroes, Cancer Research and Macmillan coffee mornings.
The portable cabin was only supposed to last a couple of years when it was put up 11 years ago but survived the test of time until now.
Users say when the trust closed their cabin in May, after deeming it unsafe, they thought the organisation would replace it with a similar building.
But there are no plans to do that and the women were forced to come up with a temporary solution – a gazebo in the courtyard where they all live in Prior Avenue.
That was sufficient through the summer months but now, with autumn upon us and winter around the corner, it is too cold for the pensioners to use and now they have nowhere to go and nothing to do and that has rendered some of them housebound.
Elaine Sargeant, one of the group, said: “We used to have so many things going on there and it could be used by anything from ten to 30 people at any one time.
“It was almost always full and provided a real community hub for Stoke Prior.
“Some of the people who used it were near enough housebound and cannot even get into Bromsgrove.
“A lot of them used to come down on their mobility scooters and it offered them their only chance of getting out of their homes.
“What makes it worse is the trust refurbished it six months before they closed it and put new heaters in three months before.”
She said it was a real warm, comfortable and welcoming place for everyone to go and they even held their annual Christmas parties for the elderly in there.
“I don’t see why they can’t replace it with another similar portable cabin,” she said. “It’s all we want and need.”
Mike Brown, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Sadly the existing portacabin building is structurally unsafe and beyond economic repair and whilst for the last 11 years we have been able to provide the Shac as a free resource for local Stoke Prior people, we are now facing more challenging financial realities.
“We are however currently working with the parish council, district and county councillors and hope to engage the local community to see what can be done to replace this popular facility. We remain optimistic.”