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Changes to Challengers schemes – July 2020

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An update from our Chief Executive

In my last update I shared some information about the charity’s financial position and our need to make cost savings, including changes to our schemes and staff.

2019 was a difficult year for Challengers. Like many charities and businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has further added to our hardship this year and has put us in a position where we have had to make significant cost savings.

Over the past couple of months, we have been working closely with local authority commissioners to review options, negotiate new terms and provide as many services as we can in the areas of most need, but unfortunately we have been unable to secure funding for every scheme.

As a result, it is with an extremely heavy heart I share that we will be closing the following Challengers schemes with immediate effect:

  • All Young Adult schemes (Basingstoke, Farnham, Guildford and Leatherhead)
  • Andover Youth
  • Petersfield Youth
  • Reading Youth
  • Swim Club
  • Fun Swim

This decision has not been easy to come to and as a charity we have always regarded scheme closures as a last resort because we know how much families rely on us, but it is an action that we must take to protect the future of the charity. Continuing to run financially unsustainable schemes would eventually lead to the collapse of the charity entirely, and that is a risk we cannot take.

These closures result in an 11% reduction across service delivery hours. All of our Pre-school and Play schemes will continue to run, as well as all Youth schemes not listed above.

We have also consulted with our staff and have begun to make a small number of redundancies and restructure teams in line with these closures, making a 20% cut to overhead costs. This very sadly means that we will be saying goodbye to some members of staff over the next couple of months.

These decisions have not been made lightly, and we have done everything that we can to mitigate the financial hardships that the charity has encountered in the last year. We care deeply for our staff and for every young person who attends Challengers, and we are extremely sad that we are unable to continue to work with and support everyone.

We will continue to run a small number of schemes with reduced numbers of children while government restrictions are still in place, however we hope to be able to increase numbers and re-open more schemes in the coming months as and when it is safe to do so. As ever, our top priority remains to keep children, families and staff safe during this difficult time.

Amanda Matthews
Acting CEO

20th July 2020