THE CHILDREN’S charity Barnardos has closed all its services and put its staff on unpaid leave this week in an effort to save money.
In a statement issued yesterday, the charity said all its services for children and families would be closed up to and including Friday, August 17th.
“The decision to close . . . was made by the management of Barnardos late in 2011 as a cost-saving measure to protect services to children and families.
“This is in response to increased financial pressure due to repeated cuts to statutory income and a decline in voluntary income,” it said.
Chief executive Fergus Finlay, said the first priority was the children and families Barnardos worked with.
“This cost-cutting measure is the latest in a series of cuts Barnardos has had to make to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services to children and families at a time when they need us most.”
Mr Finlay said the funding cuts being imposed across the NGO sector had the potential to do “untold damage” to vulnerable children and families.
“While every organisation that works with children is doing its best to cope, and staff are making substantial sacrifices themselves, the reality is that great pain is being caused.
“There is something deeply uncivilised about an economy that continues to cut support and services for the most vulnerable while paying billions to pay for the gross mistakes of public policy in the past.”
He said the decision to close for a week was accepted voluntarily by staff.
“The savings in salary costs achieved by the week’s closure will allow us to better manage the reduction in income and ensure that services can continue in the long term.”
All families and children who attend Barnardos services had been informed of the planned closure some months ago, he continued, as had Barnardos’s 400 staff and volunteers.
“Careful consideration was given to the timing of the closure. August was chosen as the time of the year with least impact, as it is traditionally when Barnardos services to children and families are quietest.”
Anyone trying to contact Barnardos this week by phone will be advised to leave a message or, in the case of an emergency, to call a dedicated mobile number.
All other queries will be responded to when the organisation resumes full normal services next Monday, August 20th.
The Barnardos charity shops in Cork, Wexford, Carlow and Dublin are open this week and a number of fundraising staff are also available if people want to make a donation.
They can be contacted on 01-7080475.
The decision to close services was a “reflection of the challenging times that Barnardos and other voluntary organisations are operating in,” said the charity.Irish Times