Pottery charity threatened with closure
A charity which offers pottery classes to the vulnerable is threatened with closure after Lambeth Council voted to sell off its premises.
Clapham Pottery is fighting to raise £175,000 by May to buy its home and avoid closure, and its bid has secured support from the community, including internationally acclaimed chef Michel Roux Jr.
Set up by professionals from the nearby North Street Potters in 2007, the charity was re-housed by Lambeth in 2010 from the old Clapham Leisure Centre to The Old Chapel, Rectory Grove.
Now the council is planning to sell the building, leaving the charity, which offers courses to 200 students a week, as well as free courses for carers, vulnerable children, the elderly and the homeless, with only months to find thousands of pounds.
Sarah Williams, 51, head tutor for children’s courses at Clapham Pottery, said: "Our classes for adult carers are often the only opportunity they have to make something for themselves, and our classes for young carers give them space to be children, to relax, laugh, and sympathise with each other."
Celebrity chef and Battersea resident, Michel Roux Jnr, has been a North Street Potters customer for many years and is supporting the cause.
He said: "I am a keen supporter of small businesses in the community, and that Clapham Pottery makes beautiful products by hand is something very special.
"They do a huge amount of work on a benevolent front. We should be championing this."
The Edwardian building, a former orphanage, has been in community use since it was built in 1922.
Artist, Susanna MacInnes, 37, from Larkhall Rise, Battersea, whose son Fergus, seven, attends the children’s classes, said: "This is the highlight of Fergus’ week, Clapham Pottery is a space for him to explore his imagination, working in clay gives him a voice and gives him confidence."
Coucillor Nigel Haseldon, ward member for Clapham Town, said: "The borough is under intense pressure having lost a third of its government grants, but it is making sure the current tenants are given the first opportunity to acquire the premises."
"Clapham Pottery is a wonderful institution; it has been there for as long as I have lived in the area, to lose it would be a dismal outcome - it performs a connective role from which the whole community benefit."