South Shields club faces finding new home due to council cutbacks

David Selby, Sylvia Selby and Anne Younger at the Jack Heath Club, which could need to find a new home due to council cutbacks.

David Selby, Sylvia Selby and Anne Younger at the Jack Heath Club, which could need to find a new home due to council cutbacks.

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A South Shields club supporting people with learning disabilities is on the lookout for a new home as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The Jack Heath Club is based at Chuter Ede Community Centre – one of a number of places under review as cash-strapped South Tyneside Council looks to save money.

The move was authorised by council leader Iain Malcolm, who has told officers to identify those which could survive without subsidy, those which could be run by other organisations and those which are not viable.

Those that council officers believe will not survive on their own could be closed, with the council’s cabinet making the decision on the future of each community centre.

It now means the club, which has about 60-70 members who frequent the weekly sessions, is now being forced to look for an alternative home in case the centre closes.

It will be the fourth time the club has been forced to relocate in its 50-year history.

Four years ago, members found themselves battling to save the John Wright Centre, in South Shields, with petitions, protests and an impassioned plea to council chiefs falling on deaf ears.

With the help of Chuter Ede Community Centre’s manager Jason Meiers and ward councillors for Biddick Hall, they were given a place at the venue in Galsworthy Road.

But despite another possible relocation, those who run the club are defiant and say the Jack Heath Club will continue and they are looking forward to its 60th anniversary.

David Selby said: “We are carrying on as normal and seeing what happens, as at the moment no one seems to know what is happening.

“But whatever happens we are determined that the Jack Heath Club will continue and we are looking forward to celebrating our 60th anniversary.

Ann Younger said: “When we were forced out of the John Wright Centre we scoured South Tyneside looking for a suitable place for us to go to.

“We had a lot of help from Jason and the ward councillors in setting up home at Chuter Ede.

“Since the move we now have more equipment and received more recognition for what we do.”