A Londonderry centre for people with learning disabilities is back in business thanks to help from hundreds of people after a weekend arson attack.
While it will be many months before Destined is fully functioning, staff and clients at the centre are getting on with business.
Chief Executive of Destined, Dermot O’Hara said he was overwhelmed by the huge number of people who arrived at the centre on Sunday to help clean up the damage so people using Destined wouldn’t miss out.
The premises on the Foyle Road, Derry was broken into in the early hours of Saturday morning and a fire was lit in the kitchen area which caused extensive damage.
Mr O’Hara said this damage will take longest to put right.
“People smashed their way in through the cafe door, vandalised the cafe area and the kitchen area. they flooded the kitchen area and pulled pipes off the wall, he told Radio Foyle.
“The cafe was the hub of the centre - every day people come here and meet up which is what this centre is all about.
“Destined is about social inclusion, it is about involving people with learning disability in mainstream community and bringing people from the mainstream community into our centre as well.
“The kitchen is totally ruined from what we can see and it may be nine months before we have the centre fully up and running.
“We are still waiting on a full assessment but we employ a number of staff employed in the cafe and we some of our members work in the cafe as well where they gain experience and training so they are losing that opportunity.”
A huge community response to the attack drew people from both communities along with local businesses who wanted to do what they could to restore the centre.
Mr O’Hara continued: “We really appreciate the help we got, people really rallied to our call and arrived with mop buckets.
We had people coming here offering help, we have had tradesmen, building contractors offering their services and offers from people to do fundraisers for us.”
Two teenagers, aged 13 and 15 were arrested in connection with the attack on the Destined premises.