Despite continued efforts from Harmony Community Trust, it’s with great regret that the Trust today, 6th September 2023, announces a temporary cessation of most programmes at Glebe House due to major cuts in funding from the NI Executive and no clarity on when or if funding will be restored.
The Executive’s budget for supporting community relations work has been cut in 2023/24 as part of wider cuts to the NI budget, and this has made it impossible for Glebe House to continue this work.
The loss of funds will have a major impact for both staff at Glebe House and for programme participants, with the loss of all staff posts and a pause in most programmes until new funding can be secured.
Speaking after a meeting of the trustees of the charity, Chairman, Seamus Camplisson said:
“Despite the tireless efforts of our trustees, our team and our friends in recent months, strong cross-party support, and knocking on every door, today we are despondent that we have to make this decision and this announcement.
“We have engaged with our local representatives, investigated every possible avenue and already implemented cost savings measures on a very lean operation to avoid today’s decision but without the Executive funding, which we have received at varying levels since 2016, the deficit in our budget is too great.
“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Cuts to funding’ so many times that we can lose sight of the real impacts that these have, especially for our dedicated and talented staff who have now lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to the hundreds of Glebe House programme participants and their families, for whom Glebe House is a very special place which enriches people’s lives”.
Glebe House has been serving the community since 1975, providing cross-community residential and day programmes that promote positive community relations, and support participants in overcoming the impacts of deprivation, social exclusion and rural isolation. In a typical year around one hundred children and young people and one hundred adults take part in Glebe House programmes.
The team at Glebe House has historically been supported by volunteers, recruited locally and from all over the world, some of whom have been volunteering at the centre for decades.
Despite this news, the trustees of Harmony Community Trust are determined to find a solution. Glebe House is not closing, and a recovery plan is being put in place, which will utilise the assets of Glebe House, including its land.
Mr Camplisson continues:
“The trustees and I will do everything we can to restore programmes at Glebe House. We are determined that the community does not lose this special resource which has benefitted thousands of adults and young people from across Northern Ireland over its 48-year history.
“On behalf of the Glebe House community, I would once again like to pay tribute to our fantastic staff, whose loss at Glebe House will be felt deeply by the Glebe House community. Through determination, resolve and the community’s support, we are aiming to restore our team and programmes as soon as we have a resolution to our funding issues.”
The trustees will be seeking new funding for future programmes. In the interim period, Harmony Community Trust will continue to deliver a much-reduced adult programme, which will includes the Seedbed gardening and environment project and the Knitwits group, and Glebe House will still be home to the local Men’s Shed group.