Story: Lisa Swift
Burngreave Vestry Hall has again been damaged by heavy rain, which leaked into the building in May, ruining the floor of the main hall and putting the basement IT rooms out of action.
Leaks cause difficulties
The main tenant of the building, S3 All comers and Enterprises (formerly Launchpad), has struggled to keep their services going. Manager Rita Hardwick told the Messenger,
“We've had to move everything upstairs, including the cafe, which is difficult. We've also lost use of the computer room in the basement. It's had a big impact but we’re coping. You have to keep your sense of humour.”
The group supports adults with learning difficulties, although their activities are open to anyone. Their Dry Road monthly event for recovering alcoholics has had to be cancelled until July. Rita was keen to point out that many things are unaffected:
“Our new sensory room upstairs is now open on Saturdays and it’s great for people who are suffering from stress. It’s very relaxing. Our courses are also continuing in subjects such as Spanish, cookery and creative writing.”
The College pull out
The rain damage came after the devastating news that Sheffield College would no longer run classes at the centre from September. The College have made major cuts to community learning across the city in order to save money.
In Burngreave, they have cut ESOL classes in anticipation that fewer people will be able to afford them when fees are introduced in September.
Concerns that the Council’s LifeLong Learning and Skills courses would also leave the building were only partly addressed by the Council’s statement that:
“…it is going out to tender for Adult and Community Learning for 2011/12 academic year. Once providers are established on our commissioning framework we will be asking them to deliver a similar range of courses as we are providing this year. We are also expecting our subcontractors to use local venues and, if the Vestry Hall is fit for purpose, we would be happy to use this for our sessions.”
Since the end of New Deal in March, the Vestry Hall is now the responsibility of the Council, who have yet to explain their plan for maintaining and running the building in the future.