Vandals hit Wester Hailes elderly centre again

Members of the Dove Centre in Wester Hailes
Members of the Dove Centre in Wester Hailes
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Staff at a dedicated social care centre for the elderly have hit out at “mindless” vandals who have repeatedly targeted the building.

The latest incident at the Dove Centre in Wester Hailes, which supports older people by providing food and access to social events, meant the building had to close for two days, leaving many without hot meals.

The charity was also forced to fork out hundreds of pounds from its limited funding to replace two large picture windows smashed over the weekend, with more repairs needed.

Other incidents have seen computers stolen and walls regularly daubed with graffiti.

Caroline McKinna, manager of the Dove Centre, told the Evening News: “We moved to this building in 2006 and the vandalism has been constant. Just about every Monday we arrive to find new obscenities spray painted on the walls and there have been five or six 
bigger incidents, including the time someone broke every single window in our bus.

“A few months ago all our computers were stolen and our windows were smashed. This time someone has climbed on to the roof and thrown bricks through our kitchen windows, rendering it unusable.

“Many of the people we provide meals to are very isolated and some are in the early stages of dementia. Incidents like this really upset their routines. To these vandals, we’d like to say it could be your granny or grandpa who has been isolated with no hot meals for two days.”

John Aitchinson, chairman of Wester Hailes Community Council, added: “Incidents like this are a blight on the community, and I imagine people will be shocked when they hear about it.”

These sentiments were echoed by regular users of the centre. Jessie MacFarlane, 73, who lives in Stenhouse Crescent, said: “It’s absolutely terrible. The staff here work very hard. They don’t get a lot of funding and they put in a lot of effort to raise the money they do and this is the reward they get – being forced to spend it on cleaning up after vandals.

“I would be lost without the 
centre, it’s really helped me make friends in the community. I hope those responsible are ashamed of themselves.”

Vera Hastings, 91, of Baberton Mains, said: “I don’t understand the mentality of the people doing this. I want to ask them if they have any idea how much damage they have done? Not only to the building, but to the people who the centre supports.”

Ms McKenna stressed that the centre would continue to operate no matter what. She said: “Whatever gets thrown at us we will still be here. We’re not going to let these vandals stop our service.”

A police spokesman said: “Police are investigating after windows at premises in Hailesland Place were damaged. The incident happened sometime between 4.45pm on Friday, August 31 and 8am on Monday, September 3. Anyone who saw anything suspicious is asked to come forward.”