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Hackney Wick play charity Albion Kids Show in desperate appeal as rent hiked from £3k to £19k

PUBLISHED: 11:57 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:06 01 August 2017

The charity is having to leave its depot later this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

The charity is having to leave its depot later this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The fun could soon be over for a kids charity that has hosted play days on Hackney estates for 33 years – unless it can be “rescued”.

Children play on the Albion Kids Show pirate ship in Millfields Park. Picture: Polly HancockChildren play on the Albion Kids Show pirate ship in Millfields Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Albion Kids Show was founded in 1984 and is loved across the borough for its work on estates with no facilities for youngsters.

It stores its 30ft trailers and play gear – including a pirate ship – in an old warehouse in Hackney Wick, which until 2014 set it back £1 a year in rent.

But now the area is no longer a wasteland, the town hall has upped the rent to £3,000 a year, and from October that is being hiked again to £19,500.

Obviously the charity cannot afford that. Public funding has long since dried up and it is just about surviving now by hiring out its equipment. But trustees are calling on the town hall and its voluntary sector partners to come up with a rescue package to keep the charity alive.

Paul Seacroft of Albion Kids Show. Picture: Polly HancockPaul Seacroft of Albion Kids Show. Picture: Polly Hancock

Trustee Paul Seacroft knows the charity will have to move out of the depot and sell most of the equipment it now rents out. But he is hoping someone can “rescue” the Albion Kids Show, which is now down to one paid staff member.

“Unless the community, the council and its partners in the voluntary sector can come up with a rescue package, this service is dead,” he said. “We can try and take the vehicles somewhere else but we will have to sell everything.

“This year we’ve done Well Street and the [youth charity] Hackney Quest events. Next year they are going to have to go outside London to hire their equipment, and it will cost them more.

“There’s no real alternatives, either. Hackney Council does Street Play but that’s just closing off owner-occupied roads at both ends.

“The council founded the kids show in ’84 to help children on estates.

“We’ve been around so long we have people who grew up with it who are now volunteer play workers.”

A town hall spokeswoman said: “We recognise AKS is a much loved local institution. We agreed in 2014 they would pay just £3,000 a year rent for three years; we have also continued to provide them with some grant funding to allow them time to work up a survival plan.”

She added the charity had been given a six-month extension on the lease to allow it to find a new site but the existing rent level was too low for any organisation.


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