Respite charity set for closure with loss of 40 jobs

The heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant two Sutton Coldfield short break homes will be closing their doors at the end of the year, with the loss of around 40 jobs.

The Norman Laud Association’s short break homes in Wylde Green provide overnight and day respite care services for around 60 adults and 30 children with complex learning disabilities and other associated health care needs.

In view of The Norman Laud Association’s financial circumstances it has been decided that there will be a gradual winding-down of services until the end of the year with a view to, as best as possible, protecting The Norman Laud Association’s most vulnerable clients.

The Norman Laud Association – a registered charity – has faced funding issues for some time, which the CEO, the board of trustees, key staff members and supporters have been seeking to address, but the pandemic has made an already challenging position much worse with increasing loss of income for the short break homes.

Much of the organisation’s income comes from local authorities in the region who part-fund individual service users coming into the homes.

During the pandemic, many residents have been unable to visit, which meant occupancy rates fell well below 50%.

Elaine Mountford, CEO, said: “The trustees have regretfully concluded that the charity will have to wind down its operations and close at the end of 2020, after which the organisation will be placed into liquidation. Sadly, The Norman Laud Association closing marks the end of an era and I would like to thank all those people who have contributed to making the association something I’ve had the privilege to be part of.

“Care will continue to be provided for children, adults and their families whilst alternative arrangements are made.”

The organisation’s regulators, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, as well as local authorities and social workers together with parents and other carers will be consulted about the best way to secure alternative placements for all the children and adults who continue to need short break care services.

The Norman Laud Association’s staff team has been informed of the position and will be paid in full during their notice period until the end of the year.

Charles Turner, partner at CVR Global and a specialist in the charity sector, together with Craig Povey, head of CVR Global’s Birmingham office, will be helping with the liquidation process.

Turner said: “It is never easy when a charity doing excellent work in the local community runs into financial difficulty, but our job is to face the commercial realities and find the best options for everyone involved.

“Following discussions with the Trustees, our recommended process is a gradual winding-down of the charity, which means its most vulnerable clients can continue to get the care they need while arrangements are made for their future care.

“Given the circumstances, this is the Trustees’ preferred outcome – it is the best way to protect the interests of both clients and stakeholders in what is a very difficult situation.

“Every effort was made to keep the homes open, but long-term challenges to the underlying financial operational model, made much worse by the pandemic, meant this was simply not viable.

“We are pleased to hear everything is being done to ensure The Norman Laud Association’s children, adults and families find alternative care arrangements after the homes close.”