Charity to fold through funding cuts

A CHARITY which provides training and employment for adults living with physical or mental health problems or disabilities is closing because of funding cuts.

New Thresholds, which has its main base in Hungate in Beccles, has helped nearly 800 people through various courses and training programmes over the past 20 years but will be closing all of its remaining projects in mid-November.

Over the past year, several of the charity’s large contracts have ended and this month, two projects with the Department for Work and Pensions will come to a close, with the organisation and its associated projects being wound up from November 19.

As well as its Beccles base, the charity has run a furniture restoration workshop from Hungate for 15 years and it also runs two shops, one in Beccles and one in Loddon.

New Thresholds has run five shops in the past, as well as a community gardening project and basic computer training courses, but in recent years funding from the government and other sources has reduced and shops and projects have had to close as the need for them to provide training for clients has declined.

New Thresholds director Jim Lumsden, on behalf of the board of trustees, said that the decision to close had been difficult to make.

He said: “For many months we have tried to locate alternative sources of funding to enable New Thresholds to continue in some form but unfortunately have not been successful in doing so.

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“The primary reason for this is due to the major changes in the way that contracts are now awarded as part of open tendering processes at local, regional or national level which leaves us without any clients to help to retrain and support into employment.”

The Workstep scheme, one of a number of services provided by New Thresholds, provides support to disabled people facing barriers to getting and keeping a job, as well as offering practical assistance to employers.

The scheme, which will in future be known as Work Choice, will now be delivered solely by national or regional providers.

Mr Lumsden said that the organisation will be working closely with the Shaw Trust to try and find alternative work for Workstep employees.

He said: “We would like to give our most sincere thanks to all our loyal staff, volunteers and participants for the support they have given New Thresholds over the years. Our grateful thanks also go to all the customers who have supported our various shops, projects and units.”