A long-established local group for people with specific needs is fearing for its future after being told it has to find new premises.
The Deaf Club in Fife has been in its current home in St Brycedale Avenue, Kirkcaldy, for 90 years – but could have to leave by the end of this month.
We feel we are in limbo and nobody is doing anything to help.Belinda Young
Fife Council is considering the sale of the property, as the Deaf Club – which occupies the first floor – is now the only group using it.
The club, which currently pays an annual rent of £1, has been told it would cost £15,000 a year rent, plus gas and electricity, for it to remain there, while it would also be liable for maintenance and repairs.
It fears this is far beyond its means, but has struggled so far to find a suitable alternative base.
It says other venues suggested by the Council’s estates section are unsuitable, for various reasons.
The group meets weekly at the Fife Centre for the Deaf – originally gifted by the Nairn family in 1926 – with social activities and sign language practice for its 30-40 members, plus get-togethers for pensioners and deaf fishing enthusiasts.
The committee is worried that leaving St Brycedale could spell the end of the group which is solidly established in Kirkcaldy and a big part of many members’ lives.
Accessing transport and mainstream communication could be difficult for some deaf people, who could become lonely or more isolated.
Belinda Young, chairman, said one of the biggest concerns was the provision for future generations.
Some of the younger people and children in the group were at different stages with learning sign language, and the loss of a recognised facility could be a major blow.
“We feel we are in limbo and nobody is doing anything to help us,” added Belinda.
Michael McArdle, the council’s estates lead professional, said various options were still being discusssed.
“The deaf club could take on the whole building but, at a cost of £15,000 per annum, we understand this is unlikely to be possible for them,” he added. “As they only need the building for a limited period of time each week, it was agreed a more suitable location would be in a local hall or community centre. We provided a list of suitable halls and centres in Kirkcaldy for the club to consider and contact.
“At a meeting in January, a contract termination date of March 31 was suggested and we are still discussing this with the tenant. We have tried to assist the Deaf Club in finding alternative accommodation and will continue to help where possible.”
The club is staging a 90th anniversary celebration dinner and dance on June 25 at the Dean Park Hotel. Proceeds will assist the hunt for a new location. Anyone who thinks they can help the Deaf Club can email firstname.lastname@example.org.