Centre at heart of community

Friday, February 14, 2014


LETTERS From Stephanie Foster, Totland:

I WAS very concerned to read the IW Council is considering axing the funding it gives to West Wight Sports Centre (CP 31-01-14).

If the centre were to close as a result of this short-sightedness, the impact on the local community would be enormous.

A few years ago, the council withdrew a considerable portion of the funding granted to the sports centre, the shortfall now being met through voluntary fundraising efforts like the Wild West Cross Solent Swim. Any further withdrawal of financial support would, I am afraid, place an unrealistic burden on a registered charity already under pressure.

In addition to recreational facilities, there is also the opportunity to train for excellence in a particular field.

Sporting activities are an excellent way to engage young people in the positive and productive occupation of time. Renowned as the best place on the IW to learn to swim, the staff offer high quality instruction in an incredible range of sports.

However, the centre offers much more than sporting opportunities.

The recently awarded ASA Community Project of the Year 2013 and IW Community Action Awards 2013 are evidence of the way the sports centre supports a huge range of groups and organisations.

From Swimming Tots to Age UK surgeries, the living with long-term conditions cafe to the West Wight youth cafe, West Wight Sports Centre is a community hub relevant to a vast spectrum of residents at many different stages of life.

The sad fact is that few would make the extra effort to travel to the next available facilities, with many reliant on public transport.

After striving for so many years to establish a strong support network to meet the needs of the West Wight community, the idea of it being swept away is insupportable.

Coming after the council’s withdrawal from much of the Freshwater Library Service, I can’t help but think it is attempting to pluck yet another gem out of the grasp of an impoverished community.

I urge other residents who, like me, appreciate the damage that would be caused by its closure to be vocal in their support for a sports centre that truly is "at the heart of the community".

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