A community organisation providing families with food and emergency supplies has been forced to shut after bags of asbestos were ‘carelessly’ dumped outside their hub.
The 0161 Community group set up a new base near to the Tesco supermarket in Levenshulme in June after being forced to move from its former premises in Bolton.
On Thursday morning (August 12), volunteers went to open up their shipping container hub and discovered piles of bags containing asbestos dumped by the entrance.
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Staff said that some of the bags were open and therefore could pose a dangerous risk to anyone who came into close contact with them.
“There were around 13 bags of asbestos and a bit of unbagged asbestos just exposed and sitting outside the hub,” group member Jacob Briars said.
“There were three or four bags, I reckon whoever did it must have pulled up, started putting the bags down the side and then dumped the rest in the car park right in front of our unit.
The 0161 group is unable to use their community hub until the asbestos has been safely removed
(Image: 0161 Community)
“It’s like six feet away from the door which means we can’t open up really.
“Luckily we weren’t open on Thursday but the fact that it’s asbestos means that we can’t just remove it ourselves.”
Jacob says that the organisation is now unable to open up again until the asbestos is professionally removed by Manchester Council.
He added: “Because of where it is, I can’t let any of the staff go near it. I can’t put them at risk.
“They already do so much and I’m sure they would be willing to shift it themselves but their health and safety is more important to us than anything else.
“We were supposed to be open on Friday and then again on Sunday, so it looks like we won’t be opening again until Tuesday at the earliest now.
Bags of asbestos have been dumped outside the group’s hub
“That means that we have stock that people need now and when Tuesday comes around, most of that will have to go in the bin.”
In fact, Jacob said this has not been the only instance where their community hub has been targeted by people.
He explained: “In the two month’s we’ve been here, the container has been covered in eggs, we’ve had racist graffiti sprayed over one side and litter dumped by it.
“Little things like that we’ve been able to sort out ourselves – we’ve painted over the graffiti and cleaned up the eggs but we can’t move the asbestos ourselves.”
While the group uses refurbished shipping containers, Jacob insisted that he felt that the asbestos had been dumped deliberately as there are signs clearly displaying what the container is used for.
The 0161 Community group has set up a new base to deliver food, clothing and supplies to residents in need.
He said the asbestos meant that families in need would now be unable to get access to supplies.
“There’s people who rely on this service who now can’t get what they need from us,” Jacob added.
“It’s so disheartening when all you want to do is help people but we’re not going to give up.
“Once we’ve got it cleaned up, we’ll be back to the grind and be there for the people that need it.”
The south Manchester hub is open Monday at 10-12pm, Tuesday between 6-7.30pm, Wednesday 10-12pm and 6-7.30pm, Friday 10-12pm and Sunday 6-7.30pm.
0161 Community are also accepting donations, such as toys and food, with more information available on their website.
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