NEWS — 14 February 2014

The ravaged centre

Ashford Place, the charity formerly known as Cricklewood Homeless, has been hit by a fire.

Police are hunting an arsonist after an intruder broke into the charity’s Cricklewood centre around 4am of February 11.

Due to a quick response from the fire service, no one was hurt and the fire was contained to the dining room on the lower floor.

Ashford Place CEO Danny Maher told The Irish World: “The main thing is no one was hurt, and we’re going to let something like that stop us in our tracks.”

Ashford Place was founded as Cricklewood Homeless Concern to help those who may be sleeping rough before expanding their services to other isolated groups such as older Irish people in need of company.

Most of Ashford Place’s services have returned to normal but of course the centre has been unable to serve lunch, forcing Ashford Place to turn away those who depend on it: “The older Irish people would depend on that social interaction and a place to go during the day. They’re as shocked as we are, why someone would do something like this to their centre.

“We have very clear CCTV coverage of the whole event, the man coming in and setting the fire. It was feckless and so deliberate and planned and we’re left with the mystery of why? And so are our customers.”

In a statement on the Ashford Place website, Danny pays tribute to his “amazing team” for keeping services going and also to the fire brigade for their quick response.

Metropolitan Police are appealing for witnesses.

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