Kingston charity seeks new location as council says current building is not safe

A mental health charity in Kingston is seeking help to find a new home after the council told it to vacate its premises without consultation. 

Fircroft Trust had leased a building on Ditton Road in Surbiton from the council for more than 40 years and CEO Kay Harris said the council’s decision that the building was unsafe, made last July, was untimely.

“We were shocked and disappointed when we received a call and letter from the council telling us we can’t go back into our building,” Harris said.

“We feel the council should have consulted us before deciding because before Covid-19 we were fully operational.”

CEO Kay Harris. Photo: The Fircroft Trust

The charity created an appeal on its Facebook page in early February urging the public to help in the search for another building in Surbiton, Chessington or Tolworth that meets the accessibility and suitability needs of its users. 

Fircroft Trust is a source of support for around 75-90 people each week, who all have different levels of mental health challenges.

Kingston Council said in a statement: “We value the work that Fircroft Trust does in our community. Unfortunately the building they occupy can’t be used at the moment because it’s not safe.

“The mental health crisis which Covid-19 has caused means their work is needed more than ever. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, the Trust, like other organisations, is currently providing its services digitally.” 

Harris, who has been CEO for 20 years, said:  “There have been structural problems with our current location which is an Edwardian building, but since July last year we hoped the council would be in touch to fix repairs needed.

“However, we’ve realised it’s a permanent decision that we can’t return.”

She also said Fircroft Trust would continue to support the community by maintaining daily contact via telephone, ‘covid-friendly’ garden work or meet-ups with their most vulnerable members.

Kingston Voluntary Action, the lead for all charities and community organisations in the borough, and local councillors including Fiona Boult, Emily Davey and Alison Holt, have all shown support for Fircroft Trust.

Pre-covid, this charity was thriving – providing art sessions, music therapy, yoga and pilates for its users with the help of volunteer students.  

For more information contact The Fircroft Trust.

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