THE head of Jersey Sport has made an urgent appeal for help in finding a new base for Jersey Special Gymnastics Club, following news that they could be homeless from next month.
The club’s current training site – the sports hall at Greenfields – is set to be off limits from 5 July and Catriona McAllister admits there is currently no viable solution.
JSGC have reportedly been given just a few weeks’ notice by the Government of Jersey’s Children, Education and Skills department to find an alternative venue, following recommendations by the Jersey Care Commission that the Greenfields facility should be made exclusively available to the youth at the secure home.
Gymnasts have been based at the Five Oaks site for 14 years but are now facing the prospect of inactivity – jeopardising the development of the club’s current crop with competitions on the horizon.
‘We are obviously very disappointed that JSGC are not going to have a home,’ said McAllister. ‘We have been looking for alternative space which is suitable for the purpose of both the training and storage of equipment.
‘With gymnastics it is very difficult to find and identify space that is big enough. There are very few options. The problem is that all the facilities on the Island are already running at capacity.’
The JSGC appealed for a two-week deferral of the eviction so their gymnasts could continue to prepare for an upcoming competition, but it was rejected. McAllister confirmed that Jersey Sport is trying to negotiate with the government, on the club’s behalf, to see what options could be made available to them. The competition is a qualifier for the World Games in 2023.
McAllister said that building a specific gymnastics facility is still ‘several years away’ and while Oakfield should be ready by the end of 2023, there will be a ‘significant user of that space’ every evening.
The JSGC has set out their requirements, should anyone be able to assist. They include a property at least six metres high, a minimum of 30 metres in length and 16 metres wide. The facility should also have toilets, including a disabled toilet, a small store room for supplementary equipment, parking and access for safe drop-offs.
Meanwhile, in order to store all its equipment while finding a new home, the club requires a store of at least four metres in height, and a floor space of 12 metres by ten metres.