The CEO of One YMCA says he “deeply regrets” informing a gymnastic club at the last minute that they would have to stop operating and relocate.

It was announced that three floors of One YMCA’s Charter House hostel will be redeveloped to create 34 new rooms for rough sleepers, alongside engagement and activity space to help rough sleepers rehabilitate with independence.

One YMCA secured a £2.2million investment from the Government to do so, and the charity will also commit £1.8 million of its own funds towards the landmark to enhance it even further.

However in doing so the YMCA gym, dance studio and sports hall were instructed to shut with immediate effect on January 28.

This has also meant that Watford Gymnastics club, which serves over 900 children a week, had been told to shut.

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In a letter sent to all of the club’s members, it was stated that the club was informed of the decision last minute, and the news came “out of nowhere”.

The letter read: “We feel absolutely devastated by this news especially in the middle of the pandemic we find ourselves in.

“This is due to them repurposing the space to house self-contained flats for the homeless. As you can imagine, this kind of planning and funding does not happen overnight.

“We have not been consulted at any stage of this process. The first we were made aware of this was on the 28th (January 2021) after their funding had been secured. So this news has hit us out of nowhere.”

One YMCA will go through various improvements to house rough sleepers

One YMCA will go through various improvements to house rough sleepers

Watford Gymnastics Club, which invested £100,000 into new equipment in 2018, explained they will not stop searching until they find a new place to call home.

Guy Foxell, CEO of One YMCA, explained that in order to avoid potential “unnecessary worry”, the news of potential investments were kept quiet as they were not guaranteed.

The CEO continued: “However, we broke the news to Watford Gymnastics within only 48 hours of being notified of the funding decision and the tight completion deadlines from the Government. We deeply regret that this leaves only a short window for partners to adjust to the news and make future plans.

“We are in close contact with Watford Gymnastics and hope that together we can find the right local facility to keep delivering their fantastic blend of quality tuition and a warm community environment. We are also actively looking for a new space to reopen our Community Gym that also sadly had to make room for this life-saving and life-changing development.”

Some of the housing available for rough sleepers

Some of the housing available for rough sleepers

It was said that One YMCA is hoping to solve any issues caused from the new investments urgently, and is welcoming suggestions as their search for new locations to help their partners continue.

“We know and regret that this news causes worry and uncertainty for those involved in Watford Gymnastics and our Gym members, but reiterate our desire and commitment to continue to work with partners to find new locations for these important activities – ideally with the smallest gap in service as possible,” said Mr Foxell.