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Closure of Services

Published on 26 June 2020 10:25 AM

It is with regret that we must announce the closure of one of our shops and two of our key, paid-for services as a direct result of a financial crisis in the wake of COVID-19.

With little or no income coming into the charity since the coronavirus restrictions were implemented in March, we have had to make some difficult and extremely regrettable decisions, or risk the complete closure of our charity.

National research carried out by Pro Bono Economics predicts that one in 10 UK charities are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year, and for us, making these difficult decisions now means that we can carry on and continue to provide our core charitable services for the older and more vulnerable people within the community.

With immediate effect we have closed our Independence at Home and our Community Transport services, and have made the decision not to reopen our loss-making charity shop in Gainsborough. None of these services have been operating during the pandemic.

The IAH Service previously offered paid-for gardening, cleaning and associated services to almost 400 older people, many of them living alone in East and West Lindsey, whilst our Transport Service offered low-cost bus transport across North Lincolnshire to almost 100 clients, completing more than 10,000 journeys per year.

However, since the end of March, when the government implemented strict measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus, our ten shops and two paid-for services have lost over £250,000 of income.  We have received only minor financial aid from Age UK national and no on-going local government support.  With no prospect of a return to a fully-operational business, the charity could not support continued losses.

Unfortunately the decision has affected 78 paid staff, (26 FTE), the majority of whom worked part-time on varying hours contracts. A small number of volunteers who assisted with the transport service have also been informed that the service will no longer be running.

Whilst some of our shops have now reopened, we have had to give careful consideration to which of our branches we could open safely, given their size and location, and to what extent customers would return.  Plans are currently underway to reopen more branches in the coming weeks.

Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to run our flagship quality-assured Information and Advice Service, providing telephone help and support with a comprehensive range of age-specific topics to older people, their families and carers, and have adapted the way in which we support older people to make benefit claims, ensuring that despite the government restrictions, our clients have had access to much-needed financial support.

Our Befriending Service also remains in place, offering a lifeline to lonely older people through this difficult time, furthermore, the Keep Connected Team is maintaining contact with all of our clients to make sure that they are receiving the support and help that they need through this crisis.

We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and continued support, both now and in the future, and we look forward to working towards a better future.


CEO's Statement:

Since the end of March our income has dropped to virtually nil and the charity simply does not have the reserves required to fund the restart of services, in the knowledge that not all clients would return.  The decisions that we have had to make have left deep sadness in the hearts of all involved in the organisation, and are a stark example of how hard some independent charities, like our own, are being hit.

All but a handful of Age UK Lindsey’s employees have been furloughed since March and those remaining have taken pay cuts on reduced hours to keep the remaining, core-charity services running.  As hard as we have tried, we have been unable to secure enough funding to cover the financial losses and I must stress that we have tried every avenue that was possibly open to us. Now, as a charity, we must take stock and move forward with our ethos: of doing all we can to help older people, being at the very fore.  Had the decisions not been made, there was a significant risk that Age UK Lindsey would have gone altogether.

We understand the impact that the closure of these two services could have on some older people across our area. However, through our Keep Connected well-being calls to clients, we are aware that a number of older people who had used our Independence at Home services prior to lockdown have already made other arrangements and we are continuing to talk to clients to help them in finding replacement service providers.

Andy Storer