Mindless vandals have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to Malling Community Centre and disrupted the many services offered there.
They smashed most of the windows and their frames at the Spences Lane venue when they struck late on Friday evening.
In what has been described as a “horrific” attack, they also broke in through the back door, ransacked the cupboards, broke through other doors and let off fire extinguishers.
They even set fire to a rubbish bin close to the building – which could have seen the entire place go up in smoke.
The devastation put the popular community centre out of action. It is used on a regular basis by around 1,800 people, from community groups and pensioners, to pre-school youngsters and a food bank.
Ironically, it stands between the Sussex Police Headquarters and the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The vandals struck at around 11.30pm but got away without being seen. The alarm was raised when passers-by saw the flames from the bin fire.
Workers at the centre began the laborious task of cleaning up the chaos of the attack which Liz Allsobrook, the Chairman of Malling Community Association which runs the facility, said was was “horrific”.
She said: “I am shocked angry and upset. This is a mindless attack on a community facility.
“Nothing was stolen but the damage caused has meant that, for now, the building is closed to all users until further notice.
“I have had to break the news to all of the community groups and people who hire the centre this weekend and everyone is shocked as to why anyone would do this.
“We are fortunate to have people who turned up in the early hours of the morning to help secure the building and assess the damage, for which I am very grateful as all who run this building are volunteers.
“I am only sorry we have had to disappoint so many people and cancel their activities until further notice, which has included some people’s family celebrations.”
Cllr Allsobrook added: “To most people it’s just a building but to those groups it’s a place they get together and at the moment I’m between furious and devastated by what has happened.”
The Mayor of Lewes, Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe, said: “It seems such a tragedy that a local community facility was damaged so badly by such thoughtless people.
“I just hope it can be repaired as soon as possible.”