The York company whose headquarters was destroyed by fire says everyone’s devastated – but they are determined to rise again.
Ad Astra has been providing alternative educational support for teenagers for ten years, and the company moved into their two-storey HQ at Elvington Industrial Estate three years ago.
Then, in the early hours yesterday, the building was spotted well alight.
MD Sam Shaw and his wife and company director Lyz were contacted about the fire at about 5.30am yesterday morning.
Sam went straight to the scene, and found that the fire had “taken control”, Lyz told YorkMix.
“We don’t know how it’s happened, or what’s happened yet. We’re waiting on the report from the fire service. But it’s a major fire throughout the building.
“Unfortunately, it’s completely gone.”
They’ve lost a mechanics workshop, a construction workshop, a small animal space, teaching classrooms, an ICT suite, two sensory rooms, extensive communal spaces, a sports hall, kitchen, dining room and offices.
Eight fire crews tackled the blaze, and managed to stop the flames spreading to surrounding buildings.
“The fire service were absolutely amazing,” Lyz said. “They’ve been absolutely incredible and supportive.”
The business employs 11 staff. “There’s been a lot of shock, and staff rallying together.
How you can help
“Whilst we are working hard to put provision in place, we literally have nothing left,” says head of provision Kate Frankish. In the short term they are desperate for the following:
- Board games
- Art equipment
- Tennis racquets and balls
- Outdoor clothing
- Power tools
- Gardening equipment (spades, forks, trowels)
If you can help, please get in touch via the Ad Astra website here
“The community have been absolutely brilliant.
“A lot of the schools and colleges, a lot of businesses on the estate are offering their support and help where they can.”
‘Students are gutted’
How are the students themselves? “They’re all gutted. We’ve had amazing support from York council who have been in touch today,” said Lyz, who is Ad Astra’s safeguarding lead.
“And we’ve spoken to many of the families who, understandably are devastated for us – because as much as we support their children and young people, we support them as well.”
Today (Wednesday), the senior leadership team will meet to plan their next steps. Their main priority is to find a new place so their work with students from across York and beyond can be maintained.
“We know that this will affect them. And we want to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for them.”
If you have a space that’s available, with potentially enough room to allow Ad Astra to continue their courses, please get in touch with Lyz via [email protected].
While the business has insurance cover, they need resources to continue their work in the short term. They are setting up a crowdfunding page and we will add the link when it is ready.
“We’ve got an amazing team of staff who have all rallied around today to support each other and to support myself and Sam,” Lyz said.
“And we’re kind of saying, we’re a phoenix. We will rise from this and will only be better. But any support is always greatly appreciated.”
Ad Astra is an alternative education provider for youngsters who are disengaged, Lyz said.
“Whether it’s they’re struggling in mainstream education, whether it’s behavioural or they’ve got additional needs, such as autism, ADHD, it’s about giving them engagement programmes.”
They work with almost all the schools in York, as well as the North and East Yorkshire Councils, providing education for Key Stage 3 and 4 students “but also the ones going from post-16 that might not be able to manage a mainstream college.
“They can come to us and do their qualifications, then we get them into employment.”
Lyz added: “I just want to make sure that that our young people are looked after and we can work with them as much as we can during this hard time.”