A charity in Huddersfield is looking for a financial benefactor to help rebuild its base.
The Huddersfield Harambee Association was formed in the early 1980s as a socially inclusive organisation. For years its headquarters in Fartown acted as a hostel for homeless 15 to 25-year-olds.
But in 2015 it was decided to alter the building, on Central Avenue, turning it into flats to benefit homeless families in the area. Work began on converting the detached building but ground to a halt when the developer went bust.
It has now been returned to Harambee Association control after a lengthy wrangle with receivers acting for defunct developers Fresh Horizon.
However the property has been gutted, leaving it uninhabitable and leaving the charity’s management and volunteers without a base to operate from.
Charity secretary and board member Dr Audrey Robinson-Maynard said the scenario had left the organisation “in crisis.”
She said: “We have worked very hard to build up what we have got. That comes from volunteers and people doing a lot of things for free.
“When money goes out of the organisation it goes out of volunteers’ pockets.”
Dr Robinson-Maynard added that the property requires around £110,000 of investment to transform it into flats. She estimates that the charity has so far lost in the region of £25,000 on the abortive project.
To add insult to injury, receivers pursued the Harambee Association for payment. After mounting a legal challenge it paid £2,500.
The stripping out of the building’s interior has left it as a shell. It was also discovered that a fire safe weighing half a tonne and containing confidential documents had been drilled open and the contents – including deeds and articles of constitution – had been strewn around the floor.
Dr Robinson-Maynard said she has raised the issue with the police and also local councillors, who were sympathetic but doubtful that funding could be secured from cash-strapped Kirklees Council.
“We are very sad and frustrated at what has been happening. Every time we try to do something we are knocked back.
“We are in crisis. It’s a strain; we cannot see the wood for the trees. We are a black-led organisation but we are inclusive. You do not have to be a member to do anything for the organisation or to get any service from it.
“The black community has been around in Huddersfield for 50 years. This organisation is still relevant and will remain so for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But we need help.”
Can you help Audrey? Contact her on (01484) 644777