Fire destroys Cullybackey Drop in Centre

MEMBERS of Cullybackey Drop in Centre have vowed to keep going despite a fire destroying the club house buildings, early last Monday morning.

The Drop in Centre opened less than a year ago but had already played a vital role in the community. They are now facing an uncertain future after the premises were left in ruins last week.

One of the organisers, Darren Duff, told the Times that although they are devastated they still hope to keep the club running, he said: “This is a big blow for the whole community as up to 22 children went to the centre.

“We’re all disappointed and just gutted really, we couldn’t believe it when we were told. The school is beside the centre so the kids knew before we did.”

Darren said police had told him that anti-social behaviour in the area had reduced since the centre began, he added: “We only opened the centre less than a year ago and it had been going well.

“It kept children off the streets, they were bored and this gave them something to do and somewhere to spend their time.

“They used to just hang around and now if we can’t get this club back open then they’ll go back to hanging around the streets.”

Fellow organisers of the centre, David Kernohan and Steven French repeated Darren’s hope that the centre will get back up and running.

David said: “We are not giving up, we are trying to get somewhere else, but we were never funded and had to put our own money into the club. We didn’t have building insurance or contents cover, so the fire has hit us hard.

“It all came out of our pockets and now we have to start again. We would like to say thanks to all those who have offered support since the fire and hopefully we can get back on our feet.”

Members said that they feel that they have been targeted due to the community work in the area. A police spokesperson has appealed for information and confirmed that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Anyone who has any information is asked to contact police at Coleraine on 0845 600 8000. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.