Monday, 3 December 2012

What closing the West park Centre meant to three tenants

On a regular basis, the West Park Centre drew into its old classrooms and corridors many  satisfied customers, not just local to West Park, but from all round Leeds and further afield [as the commentaries to follow will show].
Rest of the Best rehearsing in West Park Rehearsal Room

I asked Blah, Blah, Blah for their first thoughts:

Other than having to out of the blue find an office and rehearsal space plus storage space for the rate we were on in West Park, which is impossible and therefore destroying all our budgets for the foreseeable future, nothing much! As a small company and registered charity who rarely generate much profit, our budgets are incredibly tight and this sudden move will have permanent consequences for our financial situation in terms of our daily running costs. The impact is immeasurable, but hopefully won’t lead to our demise. Pavla
Sophie practises at West Park Centre; Sophie plays Notting Hill Carnival

Speaks for itself, this comment, I think. I asked Sue Tomassi from YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic for her reactions:

what the closure meant to everyone --- well ---from a YAMSEN committee member ---
packing, labelling and finding safe and accessible places for 10 rooms of equipment --- transport to get them there
finding and risk assessing venues for 3 choirs rehearsing for the annual Lord Mayor's concert  in Leeds Town Hall on Dec 5th
making sure the entries for the art competition were re-directed to Merrion House but then they had to be collected
finding a venue for 400 art entries to be judged
cancelling one choir rehearsal as there wasn't time to find another venue so transport issues with the schools involved
talking to vulnerable adults on the phone as they were worried how they could get to new venues
not doing anything I usually do for 2 weeks --- I do have a life!
and just from my point of view, I was in West Park for 10 days packing sorting and moving --- physically hard work --- I'm a volunteer so needn't have done it but the nature of most people faced with a problem is to sort it out, however,I am very angry about the way everyone at West Park has been treated and especially for David, Carol and Paul who have lost their jobs overnight --- it's very easy to sit in an office and say we'll close this building but it takes much more to come out and meet the people the closure affects and to tell them the truth, so maybe they can be invited to the next meeting or we go to them? --- Sue
library - so where's this going?

This from Mavis:

As coordinator of YAMSEN Adult Music Activities I want to say how hard we  are finding the situation with the West Park Centre being closed and being closed so suddenly. . . .
We are very committed to YAMSEN working as a team of Volunteers and we are all aware of the importance of being able to talk, share and plan  -we have no central point to meet- equipment is all over the place and we are finding it very frustrating.
The YAMSEN Adult Music Team (known as YAM) look on social interaction as a vital part the YAM Activities which take place on a Friday morning. There is so much more to the purpose of Friday morning YAM Activites. This involves,  over 60 Adult customers with Learning Disabilities, plus support workers and volunteers. Over 90 people in all. We are feeling very isolated without Carole’s Kiosk – this is becoming more important to us as time goes on. The activities alternate between Off By Heart Choir  and workshop Activities.
The workshop mornings have recently been redesigned to meet the needs of  so many people with diverse Special Needs. This has involved  4 or 5 different rooms which . . . we have recently set up training for our volunteers to be able to lead some of the sessions with smaller groups.
That is not possible now.
We have one big room and one smaller room –no where now to train people –this again is where Carole’s Kiosk and the foyer and our Gordon Parry Centre formed a fantastic Resource.
Part of the aim of Friday mornings is to help the customers develop their individual social skills. They have loved being able to order snacks and drinks independently whilst in a safe environment.This has always been an invaluable way of seeing customers  gain so much confidence.
The YAM Committee had the programme planned for the Year –we now have hours of preparation ahead of us to revamp each alternative weeks workshop –much of our equipment is not now easily accessible.
This approach from me is only the point of view from the YAM Activities. YAMSEN covers so much more  -an incredible amount of work done with Children –training teachers , students ,and many others who want to be able to give our special people the chance to shine through music making.
We need a base urgently to be able to fulfil these essential needs.
Many of our customers are unable to express themselves verbally –there is a lot of frustrated behaviour showing because it is the only way they can show how uneasy they  are with the changes we have had to make.
a view of the West Park shops now selling less sandwiches
Leeds City Council have a huge burden to carry  to people who live in Leeds and  are being deprived of the best Community Centre because of lack of planning –it is inhuman to close a centre with no notice when we all know a decision could have been made within the last 12 months giving everyone a reasonable amount of notice.
I am ashamed to live in Leeds
Mavis West –coordinator of YAM Activites
Vice President  of YAMSEN.

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