A CENTRE which supports some of the most disadvantaged families in Copeland has been forced to close temporarily after being targeted by vandals.

Hooligans have thrown bricks through the windows of the Howgill Family Centre building at Kells, Whitehaven, which was formerly used as a library.

The centre runs a variety of groups for the community, including language sessions for Syrian refugees and Lego construction therapy for children with autism.

But it has been forced to suspend all services at the site due to fears over safety.

Howgill Family Centre said they were “deeply saddened” by the vandal attacks and are calling on people to respect the building so its services can resume.

Chris Hayes, who represents Kells on Whitehaven Town Council, believes it is bored youths who are targeting the building.

“It’s getting out of hand. It’s not as if it’s out of the way. People can see what’s going on.

“It’s getting beyond a joke. I know it’s the school holidays and they are getting bored. I’m not sticking up for them. I was young once and I would never do anything like that.

“You can see they are not targeting it for any other reason. Unfortunately they are taking it out on the wrong place.

“It beggars belief. It’s quite sad. They have broken every window now.”

Councillor Hayes now plans to hold a meeting, with the police, Howgill Family Centre and residents all invited to attend.

He said: “If there’s anything we can do to help them not be bored - try and organise some type of events - there’s plenty going on.

“I don’t think it’s a lot of children. It’s just a couple causing havoc on the children’s play area.”

John Kane, who represents Kells on Copeland Council, has also slammed the vandals’ behaviour.

He said: “There should be some sort of cameras there. You can’t condone behaviour like that.

“They are there to help families in need. It’s totally unacceptable. There needs to be more patrols from police.

“Someone must be seeing something. It’s on the main road. I will investigate and find out what’s going on.”

A spokesman for Howgill Family Centre said: “We hope to increase our current footprint in the Kells and Sandwith areas of Copeland and so have been deeply saddened by the recent attacks on our premises.

“The windows have been systematically smashed over a period of days and this has resulted in the entire front being boarded out and the services currently running out of the library being temporarily cancelled due to the safety fears we have for the children and families attending.

“These will resume shortly as soon as we have completed the clean-up operation.

“As a charity working tirelessly within the local community our work and the services we provide are invaluable. Hundreds of families use our centres on a daily basis as we strive to support and help those in need.

“We would like the community to come together in supporting our development helping families, friends and the local community bring back community spirit and encouraging pride and respect for what is a Howgill Family Centre building but also a community asset."

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said: “Police received a report of criminal damage at the Kells Library site.

“It happened on August 4 between about 9.30am and 3.30pm. Bricks were thrown through windows.

“Anyone who sees any suspicious activity or has any information can call police on 101.”