Sadness as charity with a focus on teenage girls is forced to shut
PUBLISHED: 14:35 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:35 24 April 2018
Budget cuts have been blamed for the closure of a young women's charity that has been operating in Great Yarmouth for close to 30 years.
GFS Platform, which provides support for girls and young women, will shut at the end of September, the board of trustees has announced.
In a message to the girls and young women at the Yarmouth and Skegness projects, which are both closing, chair of the board of trustees, Iana Vidal, said: “Our first thoughts are with you, the girls and young women who, upon hearing the news, have expressed entirely justified feelings of sadness, disappointment and frustration.
“It is testament to the dedicated work of staff that the projects have been far more than just a service provider for you.
“The projects have provided a safe, reliable and non-judgmental place for you to come together and make friends.
“In fact, it is the friendships and close bonds formed at the projects, which made the closures such a difficult decision to make.
“In your own words, you have come to view each other and staff like a second family. Whilst the projects will be ending in September we know that the relationships can go on for many more years, and we sincerely hope they do.”
A statement on the GFS website referred to “the ongoing poor financial performance of GFS” noting that for at least the last nine years, it had operated a deficit of up to £600,000.
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The statement said the original intention was for GFS Projects to be self-sustaining with costs covered by local or regional funding. It added: “Unfortunately, this has not been achievable and it has become impossible for the Great Yarmouth and Skegness Projects to continue to deliver their services and be self-sustaining.
“They (the board) 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.
It added: “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.”
The Girls Friendly Society was established in 1875 with the support of the Anglican Church as a pioneer youth organisation to protect working-class country girls who left home to take up urban employment.
It says it continues to support girls and young women today, adapting to the new challenges and opportunities presented by an ever-changing world.