THESE shocking images show the devastation caused by a suspected arson attack on a youth charity in one of Runcorn’s most deprived areas.

The Lord’s Taverners Woodside Youth Centre on Palacefields Avenue has suffered severe damage, with some rooms caved in by rubble.

Part of the roof was completely ripped off whilst office equipment has been destroyed.

Firefighters say a car, which was abandoned at the scene, was alight outside the building when they arrived at about 3am on July 4.

It is believed that a car was driven up to the building and then deliberately set alight.

Cheshire police are now urging people to come forward if they saw anything suspicious or have any information.

Sergeant Chris Maddocks said: “The crime of arson is extremely dangerous – people can die as a result of fires being started deliberately.

“Thankfully no one was injured by the fire at the youth centre but the incident will have a detrimental impact on young people and the community in general.

“As well as the youth centre, the building housed the Canal Boat Adventure Project, a canal boat-based social inclusion project for young people from the most deprived wards in Halton.

“Due to the extensive damage caused to the building, this charity and the youth centre will not be able to operate from the building for the foreseeable future.”

Brett Gilligan, a youth worker at Canal Boat Adventure Project, said the team were “completely devastated” by the incident.

He said: “We’ve lost everything. It’s not just the desks and the building, it’s all our paperwork like consent forms and emergency contact details that we need to run the youth club. We’ve also lost more sentimental things like awards and memorabilia.

“We’ve spent years of handwork engaging with kids and teenagers in this area and building up their confidence to participate. We are worried that we might lose some of this engagement by moving to a different venue.”

Canal Boat Adventure Project - one of the many services for young people to operate out of the Lord’s Taverners  Centre – has started a GoFundMe page to allow them to continue providing services over the summer.

Mr Gilligan said: “We had planned a lot of activities for over summer. We set up the Gofund me page so we can still provide provisions over the break so the kids don’t get bored. This is a huge loss for the young people of this community.”

Sergeant Maddocks added: “We believe that the fire was started deliberately. Enquiries are ongoing and I urge anyone who saw what happened or witnessed anything suspicious in the Palacefields Avenue area of Runcorn overnight to call Cheshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 112813, give us the details via the Cheshire Police website contact form or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”