Staff 'devastated' as vandals strike Chuter Ede Community Centre - smashing more than 20 windows
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Chuter Ede Community Association (CA) in Galsworthy Road, South Shields has warned that measures to slow the spread of coronavirus are not being taken seriously as vandals target the site twice in one week.
Staff arrived at the centre on the morning of Monday, March 23 to find around 20 windows had been smashed over night.
The attack came hours after staff repaired two windows that had been broken previously on Saturday, March 21.
The CA announced it was closing to the public on Friday, March 20 after the Prime Minister announced the latest measures to encourage people to social distance to help curb the Covid-19 outbreak.
Centre manager Jason Meiers says he was left ‘devastated’ by the damage, after spending a number of years restoring the centre in his own time.
A group of around 15 young people is believed to have been spotted throwing objects at the glass before running off.
“We had two windows broken on Saturday night which I repaired, and then 20 on Sunday,” he said.
“I don’t think whoever did this realises how important the place is to so many people of all ages.
“We have so many vulnerable and disabled people use the centre. For some, it's the only contact they have outside their own home.”
The centre holds regular activities and classes for residents of all ages and is home to local organisations such as Training in Care.
Mr Meiers continued: “I've spent the last three years trying to repair the centre so it was fit for purpose. It’s a kick in the teeth for us, so much effort has been done by the trustees, staff and myself to keep the place open and things like this puts us in such a precarious position as we don't have a lot of money.
“It’s dangerous too, as parts of the roof are unsafe.”
South Tyneside Council has now stepped in to fix the windows and provide a temporary a security guard at the site.
“I do wonder if the parents of these youths know exactly what they are up to and even realise how much risk they are putting their whole families in with the current pandemic.”
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 8.30am on Monday, March 23, we received a report of criminal damage at Chuter Ede Education Centre, on Galsworthy Road, South Shields.
“It was reported that a number of windows had been smashed overnight after offenders had thrown a number of items at the glass before making off.
“Intentional acts of criminal damage are totally unacceptable and an investigation has been launched to locate those responsible. Anyone found to be involved will be dealt with robustly.
“Anyone with information about the incident can contact us on the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website quoting reference 146 230320.”