VIDEO: Portsmouth day centre’s closure will hit scores of people with learning difficulties

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IT HAS been a hive of fun and activity for people with learning difficulties for 22 years, but now a day centre has been forced to close its doors for good.

The Cornelius Centre in New Road, Buckland, has shut because it could not afford to go on.

Jenny White, chairwoman of The Cornelius Centre''''Picture: Sarah Standing (151579-5729)

Jenny White, chairwoman of The Cornelius Centre''''Picture: Sarah Standing (151579-5729)

Chairwoman Jenny White, from Drayton, said there were about 80 people who used the centre who would now miss out on its services.

She said: ‘It’s devastating.

‘It’s going to be missed enormously for the social interaction that they all had here.’

The centre’s clients included people aged from 18 to 80 with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other conditions.

The Cornelius Centre

The Cornelius Centre

Mrs White said: ‘It was a venue for them to socialise, play board games and learn musical instruments.’

She said she wanted to thank everyone who had helped with centre over the years.

Mrs White said: ‘We’ve struggled for many years trying to raise funds, but this is a big building and it takes money to operate.

‘It has always been difficult to find funding for adults with learning difficulties.’

The News reported in May that the centre needed to find £1,500 to stay open.

But after no sponsors came forward, the centre’s committee made the decision to close it down.

The committee is now selling the building and wants to give away its furniture, musical instruments and games to other charities in exchange for donations.

Other now-unneeded equipment includes a fridge, freezer, photocopier, table football set and disco speakers and equipment.

Volunteer Vivien Ford, from Drayton, is one of the founding members of the centre.

Mrs Ford said it was 
a shame for everybody involved that the centre had to close.

She said: ‘It’s extremely sad because it has provided a very good service for a very long time.

‘It’s a big loss for the city. It’s a loss for individuals, for families and for the city itself.’

Committee member Pat Daryanani, from Emsworth, said she had an adult son with learning difficulties who would miss the centre.

She said: ‘It was nice for him and it was a good reason for him to get out and socialise.’

Groups who are interested in the centre’s unneeded equipment can call Mrs White on (023) 9232 5475 or manager Karen Pett on 07766 222602.