A statement from Iana Vidal, Girls Friendly Society Chair of the Board of Trustees regarding the decision to close the GFS Great Yarmouth and GFS Skegness Projects:
At its meeting in November 2017, the GFS Investment Committee considered the historical and ongoing poor financial performance of GFS, noting that every year for at least the last nine years, GFS has operated a deficit of between £400,000 and £600,000 that has been covered by funds drawn down from its investments.
Previous actions undertaken to address the ongoing deficit include: the restructuring of services and subsequent closure of the Great Yarmouth Nursery, the St Paul’s Lodge Project, Islington Project and the Penge Project; cuts to a number of Head Office posts and some efficiency measures (such as the move to a smaller office).
The original intention was for GFS Projects to be self-sustaining with costs covered by local or regional funding. Unfortunately, this has not been achievable and, as noted above, three of the original five projects had to close. Today, it has become impossible, for the Great Yarmouth and Skegness Projects to continue to deliver their services and be self-sustaining, due mainly to:
- Cuts in local authority funding
- Limited alternative funding sources
- Our partners’ inability to pay for the services and support the projects provide
- Our ineligibility to apply for trust and foundation funds
In January 2018, the Board developed a ‘Business Case’ that proposed restructuring services to focus on a self-sustaining volunteer delivered model and closing down the Great Yarmouth and Skegness Projects. Counter proposals prepared by the Great Yarmouth and Skegness Projects were reviewed and discussed by the Board during its meeting at the end of March 2018. After careful consideration, the Board concluded that none of the proposals were financially viable and the difficult decision was made to close down the Projects on 30th September 2018.
The Board are regularly updated about the high quality of services and support the Project teams deliver in Great Yarmouth and Skegness, both areas of deprivation. They are aware that the decision could have a significant impact on the girls and young women who use the services provided by the Projects and on the Project staff.
We are saddened by the decision and understand the impact it is having on our friends and colleagues in Great Yarmouth and Skegness and, importantly, the girls and young women who have come to rely upon GFS. It is hoped that services from alternative providers can be found or established and every effort will be made to support the staff over the coming weeks and months.
Iana Vidal, Chair of the Board
Girls Friendly Society