Volunteers needed to keep Hitchin disability group from closing

Westmill Community Centre

Westmill Community Centre - Credit: Archant

A group which organises social activities for adults with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties could be forced to close its doors if it cannot find volunteers to take the club forward.

Hitchin Phab Club was set up in the 1970s for residents living in Hitchin, Letchworth GC and Central Bedfordshire and is currently run by Rex and Joy Cox of Old Hale Way, Hitchin, with the support of volunteers.

The couple, who are both in their 60s, will be stepping down from their responsibilities in the summer and are desperate for more volunteers to take on management roles to keep the club running.

Mrs Cox first got involved with Phab in 1986, which used to run from Nightingale Centre in Hitchin before moving to the Westmill Community Centre, when her twin daughters began attending.

Over time she took on the role of leader of the club and has been volunteering for more than 20 years for the charity. Mr Cox joined as chairman of the club after he retired from a job in London.

Mrs Cox said: “The club is about making more of a life together and everyone has something to offer, but we are not young anymore and cannot keep volunteering and so need people to come forward to offer their time.

“We have a really nice atmosphere here and we all have a really good rapport with members. We have lots of activities from belly dancing, discos, movie nights and days out. People come from all over and some come from residential care homes.

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“It would be a shame if the club had to shut because it really is something that is worth having, it has enriched so many lives.”

Mr Cox said: “It has been an invaluable support for disadvantaged people and a lifeline for most people but we cannot continue anymore. We need young blood to take over and keep growing the group so it goes from strength to strength.”

Volunteer Sarah Viall added: “It is a brilliant group. It would be a huge loss if they had to close, the people that go get a lot of joy out of it.”

Hitchin Phab meets fortnightly on Friday evenings between 7pm and 10pm, at the Westmill Community Centre in John Barker Place, Hitchin.

Last week North Herts District Council gave the green light to demolish the Westmill Community Centre to make way for a new building as part of refurbishment plans of John Barker Place.

The existing community centre, which sits on land adjacent to where the new centre will be built, will remain open for business while the works are carried out. Once the development is complete, groups currently using the centre will transfer over to the new building.

A volunteer recruitment event is being held at the Westmill Community Centre from 7.30pm to 9pm on February 21. If you are interested contact Sarah Owen on 0208 294 2786 or email sarah.owen@phab.org.uk

For more information visit www.hitchinphab.org.uk

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