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Bitter sweet as Peace Centre saved from closure but attacked by vandals

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AFTER being saved from closure with emergency funding Warrington’s Peace Centre is facing a new crisis after repeated attempts of vandalism by youths during lockdown.

The Peace Centre, that is acting as a base for Warrington hospital key workers’ children and is providing residential beds for NHS doctors off shift, who are on the front line of fighting the coronavirus, has experienced two consecutive nights of sustained attempts at serious vandalism by unidentified young men.

The Peace Centre is now appealing to the local community to act to identify the people involved and to stop the damage. Three young men have attempted to create damage at the Peace Centre on two consecutive nights. The attacks have been thwarted by the on-site security team but have followed a similar pattern. The males appear to be young teenagers, who are not observing lockdown and social distancing, and are intimidating to the centre night housekeepers and security; as well as trying to break street furniture and windows. The attempted vandalism takes place in the early hours around 03:00.

It follows a serious incident on Remembrance Sunday, November 2019, that damaged a large glass pane, which has only just been repaired. The youths attempted to break the same panel in the latest incident. The Peace Centre operates 24-hour security, but it has yet to clearly identify the perpetrators and has now appealed to the Warrington community to try and find the culprits and report them to the Police.

Chief Executive Nick Taylor said: “The fact that young people are on the streets during a lockdown, in the early hours, intent on trouble is worrying. It is also unthinkable that an iconic building set up in memory of the two boys who lost their lives to terrorism, that houses such sensitive work, and at present a facility being used as living quarters for NHS doctors on the front line of fighting Covid 19, is being subjected to this vandalism. Somebody in the community or their parents, or friends must know who they are, and we appeal to them to let the Police know so we can stop them.”

The centre will be operating enhanced security over the coming nights and would like to thank security service ICS and Speedy Hire for all the help they have given free of charge today to put in place new equipment and protection.

Meanwhile on a positive note the charity set up in the memory of  12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball killed  in the IRA bombing in Warrington town centre in March 1993 has been saved from closure after an emergency funding lifeline. A cash crisis made more acute by Covid-19 had forced the charity’s chief executive Nick Taylor to prepare to close the Peace Foundation, yesterday Tuesday (March 31) until the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in with emergency funding of £37,000.

Nick said: “We’ve been running this charity for 25 years and this is the first time we’d hit a cash crisis like this. I was preparing to take the heart-breaking decision to close huge sections of the Peace Foundation when the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in with £37,000 that will enable us to keep running our services for the next three months.

“We all got really emotional when we found out and the words ‘thank you’ seem inadequate in the circumstances.As a charity we understand the impact of Covid-19 to the point that we took the decision to give over the Peace Centre to the NHS to house doctors and nurses who are currently treating coronavirus patients in local hospitals.

“Unfortunately no help has been offered to the charity sector in this difficult and unprecedented time and we were left praying for a miracle.”

Tim Parry’s parents Colin and Wendy Parry set up the Peace Foundation and said the emergency funding was a ‘Godsend’.

Wendy Parry said: “It’s just over 27 years since Tim’s life machine was switched off. Every single day we miss him and think about all the wonderful things he has missed. The Peace Foundation has already helped thousands of people and, thanks to the Steve Morgan Foundation, we’ll be able to carry on with our life-changing work in Tim and Johnathan’s memory.”

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “The Peace Foundation is a charity that was born out of tragedy that has gone on to do so much good work. It would have been dreadful if they’d not been able to carry on with the vital programmes they run.”

Morgan has pledged £1m a week to charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales to help some of the most vulnerable sectors of society cope with coronavirus – and he’s called on other people to follow suit.

Meanwhile you can find out more about the Peace Foundation work in the prevention, resolution and response to violent conflict at www.peace-foundation.org.uk

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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