Domestic abuse charity forced to leave its home in Norbury

One of the borough’s hardest working charities, the Cassandra Centre, based off London Road in Norbury, is being forced to move out of Croydon, confronted by rising hire charges and the complete withdrawal of funding from the local council.

For the past 15 years, the Cassandra Centre has provided counselling, education and support to those affected by domestic abuse, particularly younger women.

The charity was formed out of tragedy, after the murder of 19-year old Cassandra McDermott by her ex-boyfriend in 2001. Cassandra’s mother, Jennifer McDermott, and a small team of dedicated charity volunteers have been doing their utmost to try to prevent similar tragedies wrecking other lives, and families.

The Cassandra Centre has benefited since 2015 from generous support from Lloyd’s Bank, who have given the charity its premises above its Norbury branch for use as a meeting place and counselling support.

The impressive facility sits on two floors and offers a range of services that include drop-ins, appointments, therapy sessions, youth activities and skills-building workshops for both boys and girls, young men and young women. In more recent times, since the pandemic, the Cassandra Centre has also branched out into offering lunch clubs for older members of the community.

But Lloyd’s has decided to close its branch, and that means the Cassandra Centre’s lease on its offices will end on May 18.

Moved on: Jennifer McDermott: founder of the Cassandra Centre

“I am not sure where we will land,” Jennifer McDermott says. “More than likely we will relocate to another borough where there is adequate space for us to operate from.” The current premises offer discreet rooms for consultations and counselling.

“It is such a shame that the closure comes at this time when the borough is in such financial dire straits and services in this end of the borough are sparse,” says McDermott, a retired probation officer now in her 70s.

She is determined that the Cassandra Centre will continue to operate as a charity. They have separated the lunch club in Norbury from our main duties. “We secured space at the Norbury Baptist Church for the lunch club to continue to be local. They will meet fortnightly, although several elders would like to meet weekly.

But she adds: “The monthly rental is extortionate, and I am not sure if it is manageable in the long term. There is a limit to how much we can expect the elders to pay given the current cost of living crisis. They too suffer from food poverty and isolation. The club is where they meet and make friends.”

McDermott and her volunteers have spent the past six weeks, since they received notification from Lloyd’s Bank, seeking suitable premises to rent for the Centre. They are also seeking help to maintain the running of the lunch club.

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1 Response to Domestic abuse charity forced to leave its home in Norbury

  1. Chris Flynn says:

    Mad that there are so many empty properties. I hope the landlords are happy with their investments lying dormant, and people in need.

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