A COMMUNITY group from Workington have been left devastated after being removed from their base by Castle and Coasts Housing Association.

The Frostom’s Friends and Family Group who are based at the Moorbank’s office on Annie Pit found that the locks had been changed to their centre without consultation last year.

The group used the centre to play bingo from twice a week as well as hosting pie and pea dinners for members

Since, they formed nearly a decade ago Margaret Ray has organised annual trips to Blackpool as well as providing meals to people in the community

Margaret Ray, the leader of the group has made a number of phone calls to Castle and Coasts since last year, however a resolution has still not been reached. She said: “Im sick of talking to people on the phone and telling them the same thing,over and over again and getting no response.”

Last week, a letter was delivered to the 75 year-old to say that the group would not be able to move back to the centre and they would need to arrange a date to come and collect their items that they have not been able to remove due to having the locks changed.

Since then, the group have been left with no where to go .Margo Goodyear, 64, who is a member of the group said: “They may think that this isn’t much to them but to us it’s a life line.”

CCHA has offered the group alternative premises , however the ladies had said that the spaces offered were unsuitable due to the location, and lack of disabled access or kitchen.

Dawn Clark, CCHA Housing Services Director, said: “During 2020, Castles & Coasts Housing Association (CCHA) carried out a review of this building, as this very large building, which was previously two family homes, had sat largely unused for a number of years. Prior to this review, the Frostoms Group had an agreement in place with CCHA to use one small room in the building, one day per week. The building remained unused at all other times.

“There is a great need for additional affordable housing in Allerdale. Allerdale Borough Council’s Housing Strategy (2016-21) identifies a need for an additional 175 new affordable housing properties, each year. CCHA, as a major social housing provider in the area, see ourselves as instrumental in bringing, much needed, social housing to this area. This is why the decision was taken to turn the largely unused building into, much needed, affordable family housing.

“We can confirm that serious consideration was given when making the decision to convert the building into two affordable family homes. We balanced the use of one room, one day per week, against the high need for affordable housing in the area. We could not justify the building being left largely unused, when there is such a significant need for affordable housing.

“Over the past months, we have been in contact with members of the Frostoms Group, members of their families and a local Councillor, to explain the reasons which have led us to make this decision – the overwhelming need for affordable housing. We have also regularly communicated with the group, to explain that we are committed to working with them to find a suitable alternative meeting place, when Government restrictions allow groups to meet indoors again. We are also committed to meeting the costs of this alternative meeting place. We remain committed to working with the group, to find a suitable alternative venue.

“We changed a number of locks to our buildings, during the COVID-19 lockdown, as these buildings were not COVID secure, and we needed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff. We could not risk the group continuing to use this building, during this time, as Government instruction prevented groups from meeting indoors. It would have been irresponsible for us to allow this group to continue to use this building, during this time. This reason has been explained to the Frostoms Group and we have been in contact with the group to arrange a convenient and safe time for them to collect any personal belongings, and we remain committed to facilitating this.”