I am sure everyone would like to join me in paying tribute to all the emergency first responders who looked after us all so well in the aftermath of last weekend’s storms. Given the record speed of the winds the destruction could have been a lot worse although I appreciate that many people suffered serious damage to roofs and garden fixtures but fortunately was not a problem and the trees that came down across roads were dealt with swiftly and efficiently.
I am also very grateful to the very hardy band of volunteers from Chesham House in Lancing who came out in the rain on Saturday to meet me and local councillors, including Parish Council Chairman Mike Mendoza, to express their anger at the plans that have come out of the blue from the charity RVS to close this precious facility. I have been there many times to their vintage café, pensioner lunches, meals on wheels, prisoner quizzes, whist drives, computer classes and the many many other fantastic services that go on there. They even had been calling the bingo numbers on one occasion!
The centre has been largely closed throughout the public with staff and volunteers still providing some remote services to users and we were constantly promise it would reopen soon. Now, without warning staff have been issued with redundancy notices and RVS has been completely quiet and the future of the building and how services could be saved or relocated. For a nationally respected charity with a long history of working for the community in Lancing in particular that is no way to treat the army of volunteers, staff and service users for whom Chesham House is a lifeline.
Councillors and I are meeting RVS management this week and working with the Parish Council and Adur to see what can be done either to overturn the decision or make sure the activities can be provided elsewhere although it would be difficult to replicate the thriving hub that Chesham House has become. Last year we were able to save the St John Ambulance headquarters in Southwick after rallying the community and challenging the charity’s initial decision to sell the property. If you would like to help in the campaign, then please get in touch and we will set up a special Facebook page soon to keep everyone I touch with what is being done.
I will be in Southwick Square on Saturday morning for a street surgery with local councillors and the unveiling of a new defibrillator after the appeal spearheaded by Adur Chairman Steve Chipp. See you there.