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May 8, 2003

Bid to replace gutted deaf centre

From: Glasgow Evening Times, UK - May 8, 2003

by Alex Robertson

A LIFELINE for Glasgow's deaf community is to be demolished after it was gutted by a suspicious fire.

The blaze destroyed part of the renowned St Vincent Centre for the Deaf in the city's east end, forcing it to close.

Now a fundraising drive is under way to raise more than £500,000 that is needed to replace the vital facility.

Around 300 people, including children and OAPs, regularly used the centre's facilities designed to provide deaf people with community support and social activities.

The centre, staffed by volunteers, offered care for the elderly who held regular meetings and dances there.

It also provided sports facilities, including football, darts, snooker and bowls while young children were invited to the centre once a month to enjoy activities.

In February, the lifeline was cut off when the building was set alight.

A snooker room and shower room in the Tobago Street building was destroyed and the sports area damaged.

The building was left without electricity and heating and was boarded up.

The building partially re-opened at Easter to provide a limited service for deaf people and their families.

However, it is only open for two nights a week and will close in September.

Helen Mooney, of the centre's management committee, said efforts were under way to raise cash for a new facility.

She said: "The sports hall is blocked off because of the damage. This means bowling, snooker, football and darts are impossible and the youth club cannot function.

"The club will close in September and will be demolished soon after. A new centre will cost £500,000 plus.

"We have a team of fundraisers who are very determined.

"The centre is a lifeline to deaf, deaf/blind and deaf people with learning difficulties from school age to those over 90-years-old.

"They call the centre home.

"A new building would restore the social life, social care, sports and recreation activities to the deaf community."

The management committee, which owns the building, is now searching Glasgow for temporary accommodation.

It took firefighters 40 minutes to control the blaze in February.

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