An arts centre has had the devastating news that it will be shut for six to nine months after it was ravaged by fire this week.
But the three groups which meet at The Watershed in Bridge Street, Slaithwaite, have been moved by offers of help from the public.
The centre – which had just been decorated from top to bottom – is home to Shabang! theatrical group for people with additional needs, Impossible Arts and Satellite Arts, and is also hired by community groups for their activities.
Now they are all resigned to finding alternative accommodation until the work can be carried out. Kim Reuter, of Shabang!, said: “From the outside it looks like there have been a few smashed windows, but inside it is heartbreaking.
“One of our mums set up an online fund with a target of £1,500, but at that point we had no idea of the extent of the damage. We saw the building was still standing and that no-one had been hurt, but it is much worse than we thought. Every space upstairs is completely fire damaged. There is no electricity, water or gas. A supporting beam has been badly burned and may have to be replaced.”
She said she understood the fire had been caused by an electrical fault in a cellar, and it was so bad that they had still not been given the all-clear to go inside because fire officials had to make sure the building was safe. But if all goes to plan the insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs to the building.
Kim thanked people for their offers of help, and said there would be a call-out for volunteers to give practical support as soon as they could make progress.
The online appeal has already raised more than £1,000, and Kim said people had been knocking on her door to hand over envelopes with £20 notes inside. Others had rung up offering to hold fundraising activities such as bun sales.
Skipton Building Society has put collection boxes in their branches, and staff have volunteered to help with the clean-up. “Our branch staff are keen to come and help get stuck in,” said Huddersfield customer adviser Stephanie Bevan.
Kim said: “As soon as we are allowed, we will go into the centre and clear out all the fire damaged stock and sort out what is salvageable. If people want to help, I thought about families taking piles of toys to wash and then hand back.”
Kim said it looked like Shabang! had found another office space at Britannia Mills, Slaithwaite, but they still needed somewhere else for activities such as pre-school groups. She is hoping Slaitwhaite Civic Hall may be available, because she believed it had suitable wheelchair access.
The best way to offer help for the arts centre is to go through the Shabang! Facebook site at www.facebook.com/ShabangHuddersfield
Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate to the online appeal go to www.gofundme.com/2a4amgqk