Thursday, 12 February 2015
Over the past 24 hours, the University of Worcester has been made aware of concerns over the future of the Worcester Snoezelen Centre - an independent charity based on our St John's Campus. Below is the University's response.
'The future of the Snoezelen Centre at the University has never been in doubt and we are dismayed at how this is being presented.
'The University is extremely supportive of the Snoezelen Centre and the work that it does. We have actively supported their recent People’s Millions campaign; the Snoezelen has been the University’s Charity of the Year and is currently the Students’ Union’s Charity of the Year.
'When the University purchased the building and land on which the Snoezelen were tenants, five years ago, it was made very clear that we had no intentions of removing them and, on the contrary, we wished to work with them. The University has never charged a penny in rent to the Charity, or any service charges for the on-going maintenance of the property, and has been very accommodating in many ways.
'It was made clear at the time of purchase, and many times since, that the two additional rooms being used by the Charity, within the former school building, which were never included in the lease, would be required by the University for teaching space and that the Charity would need to make alternative provisions. The Snoezelen Centre committed to moving out of these rooms in December 2012 but has never done so.
'The University has a desperate need for these rooms to create two clinical skills rooms to accommodate the growing number of paramedics, nurses, Physician Associates and other professionals that it is training from this September. Building work will start in June.
'There is absolutely no question about the Charity’s continued use of its main Centre building and the University has previously offered a small parcel of land to allow the Snoezelen to further develop this building. If the Snoezelen has the funds and the desire to build this extension, the University will support it.
'The new lease proposed by the University was to replace the Charity’s previous 8.5 year lease, made with the former owner, Worcestershire County Council, which came to an end in December last year. Again, the University is proposing only a peppercorn rent, ie nothing, with every intention that this would be renewable. At no point did the Snoezelen representatives make the University aware that its People’s Millions grant was dependent on a time-specific lease. Since this was brought to our attention, only on Monday, we have asked the Snoezelen representatives to supply the details so that we can make an adjustment to help secure the People’s Millions grant.'