A COMMUNITY centre that supports vulnerable people in one of the most deprived parts of the city could be forced to close.
The Whitehawk Inn provides adult education classes, support and advice for people living in east Brighton. But the centre, owned by Brighton Housing Trust, looks set to close at the end of March because the charity can no longer afford to run it.
Residents and service users said they were saddened by the end of a vital amenity in Whitehawk.
BHT chief executive Andy Winter warned: “There will be an impact on the east Brighton community and many people who tend not to access other services will be particularly affected. With the arrival of universal credit, the loss of our services, often run in partnership with others, will mean that some people will end up without the support, advice and guidance they might need.”
Mario (who did not wish to give his last name) and his wife Maria, who suffers from learning difficulties, have used the centre for several years.
He said: “They have been really helpful to us.
“They have helped Maria with her CV and given her advice and tips on how to look for jobs.
“It’s not just the service they provide but the boost to self esteem.
“It’s not just about helping people get work for money, but it makes a real difference to people’s self worth.”
Emma and Leon Edley, who own Fusion hairdressers next door to the centre said many of their customers benefit from its services.
Emma said: “They give people lots of help with their phones and teaching them IT.
“It’s a real blow for the area because it give people somewhere to go as well as all those services.”
Jean Waverley, 67, of Whitehawk Road, said he had only used the centre to borrow books from its library but was sad to see the loss of the other services.
She said: “I know a lot of people use it. They don’t want to have to go all the way into town and sadly Whitehawk gets overlooked and cut off.”
Mr Winter said that whilst no definite decision had yet been made to close, the charity could no longer afford to keep it open.
He said: “The economic climate within which we operate is not getting any easier, and the charitable funding towards core costs that previously supported services such as the Whitehawk Inn is now almost impossible to secure.
“Since the Whitehawk Inn has been part of BHT, we have explored possible funding opportunities, but with limited success.
“A final decision is yet to be made. It is a decision that is not being taken lightly and is one that is the cause of distress to our board members, senior staff and, not least, our staff team and clients at the Whitehawk Inn.”