YMCA sells off Lewes base and warns that child care services will close

Lewes YMCA ENGSUS00120130116113923
Lewes YMCA ENGSUS00120130116113923

The YMCA has made the ‘difficult decision’ to sell its Lewes building, in Westgate Street, to Lewes Old Grammar School – and will have to close its child care services in the town.

YMCA Downslink Group, which runs the YMCA, said it is ‘facing a difficult financial and operating environment due to the strain of public funding’ but hoped to be able to plough the money into protecting its services.

The charity added that buildings, which date from the 1930s, were ‘showing the age’ and needed investment.

YMCA DLG CEO Chas Walker said, “The sale of the buildings means that our child care services in Lewes will be closing.

“This has been a difficult decision for the organisation to make and reflects the need for us to plan for the future and adapt to the challenging environment we are working in.

“Funds from the sale will provide valuable investment into the future of our organisation. The fact that the site is being purchased by a local school means that is will continue having a youth minded focus which was important to us when making the decision.

“I would like to personally thank the families who have used YMCA Lewes childcare services over the years and the local community for their continuous support.”

The nursery will remain open until August 31 and the after school clubs will finish at the end of the summer term.

The final playschemes will be during Whitsun half-term holidays. The Centre is also hired out to local community groups and Lewes Old Grammar School is hoping to continue these partnerships.

A YMCA spokesperson added, “YMCA DLG has explored a number of options to find an appropriate solution, including redevelopment of the site but none of them were viable to pursue.

“After careful consideration, the charity has accepted a very competitive offer from Lewes Old Grammar School and contracts have been exchanged.

“The school has been the largest beneficiary of the centre over the years and they will be able to provide the investment that is needed to develop and futureproof the site.

“This has been a difficult decision for YMCA DLG but one that ensures the charity responds to the challenging operating environment it is working in.

“The proceeds from this sale will allow YMCA DLG to invest in and protect their other services that have an impact on thousands of young lives each year across Sussex and Surrey.

“YMCA DLG remains committed to providing services in the Lewes District and the wider geography of East Sussex and is exploring viable opportunities. “

Robert Blewitt, headmaster at Lewes Old Grammar School, added: “As the single biggest regular user of the YMCA buildings ourselves over the years, we appreciate what an important venue the YMCA is for the people of Lewes.

“In the short term, it is our intention to accommodate existing hall users as far as possible and with the minimum of disruption. But over the longer term, we’d look to involve the whole community in developing a five-year plan that will improve the facilities in this central area of Lewes for the benefit of everyone.”

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