Struggling charity seeks buyer to secure future

Struggling charity seeks buyer to secure future
Organisation has appointed advisers to help with the sale process

A struggling Nottinghamshire charity says it is looking to be acquired or merge with a counterpart if it is to continue its work.

SkillForce is a national education charity that provides education programmes to 6-18 year olds in partnership with schools, whilst offering career opportunities to suitable candidates with an armed forces background.

However, due to “intense financial pressures”, the charity says it is now seeking a merger or to be bought.

The charity’s delivery model relies on serviced income from schools and the balance fundraised from a range of corporate organisations, trusts and foundations. It says this model has come under intense financial pressures in recent years exacerbated by the schools funding crisis, Brexit and the effect this is having on levels of corporate giving.

SkillForce has faced serious financial pressures in previous years and the charity was saved from insolvency in 2015 when a new chief executive was appointed, and a dedicated team of staff worked with him and key partners to develop The Prince William Award.

The charity says that while the award did breathe new life into the organisation, its delivery model has been tested to its limits over the last year and the fundraising pipeline has been extremely challenging and unpredictable.

This, coupled with the financial pressure of heavy cuts to school funding, has placed further pressure on the charity despite recent restructuring and cost saving measures.

SkillForce has now turned to the business recovery and insolvency team from Smith Cooper to ensure. Over the course of the next month, the company will continue to trade whilst a purchase or merger is sought.

Chief executive Ben Slade said: “We are devastated that, despite an immense amount of hard work from everyone at SkillForce since 2015, we find ourselves in such a challenging position which means we simply cannot continue to operate as we currently do.

“As a former headteacher, I am passionate about the vitally important work we do with young people. We devised the Prince William Award programme working with specialists, school leaders, our own instructors and key partners and I am fiercely proud of everyone at SkillForce who has worked so hard to make the award and other supporting programmes such a success. The vast majority of schools love what we do and 15,000 children will not get the additional support they need if we are not here.

“It is now my greatest hope that the charity and its award programmes can live on through a merger or acquisition. For me, ongoing support for our beneficiaries and continued employment for our staff have to be the priority.”

“Our instructors are incredible, complementary role models to thousands of young people and the teams supporting them work hard to ensure our offering is of the highest quality. I am truly proud to be working with them.

“We continually hear from parents, teachers and supporters that our work is making a difference to children and young people and feel this important work must continue.

“The charity’s financial position has been closely monitored for a long period of time and making the decision to seek specialist assistance in negotiating its future is the right decision by our trustees to ensure the best possible outcome for our beneficiaries and our staff at this very challenging time.”

Dean Nelson, head of business recovery and insolvency at Smith Cooper, said: “The team at SkillForce have strived to secure the businesses future, but despite best efforts, are now faced with a challenging situation.

“At the moment our attention is focused upon finding a suitable purchaser for the business, so that we’re able to secure the future of SkillForce and enable the continuation of its legacy supporting young people and ex-forces personnel in local communities.”

Employees have been informed of the situation.

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