NEARLY 100 workers have lost their jobs with the collapse of a North East charity which had helped tens of thousands of women.
Cuts in grants and a fall in the number of students led Washington-based Bridge Training and Education Opportunities for Women to call in administrators yesterday.
Administrators have made 97 of its 110-strong workforce redundant and although they are trying to sell on some of the not-for-profit organisation they described it as a “huge blow for the local community.”
The Bridge had grown from a small group of volunteers to run four centres in Wearside and Durham putting women through vocational courses as well training on health issues, confidence building and to how to get a job.
Bridge Organisation chief executive Sheila Davidson said: “Over the last 26 years, Bridge has worked with tens of thousands of local women in Sunderland and Durham providing vital learning opportunities, health and support services and volunteering initiatives. It is with much regret and sadness that the business is now in administration.
“We offer our sincere thanks to all of the funders, partners, colleagues and friends of Bridge who have supported the organisation over the years.”
Administrator Gillian Sayburn of Newcastle-based Begbies Traynor said that there were still a number of contracts in place to run courses and she was looking for possible funders or organisations who could continue to run them.
If funding was found some of the staff, half of whom only worked in term-time, could return. She said: “It was really down to a fall in the amount it could raise through grants and donations due to the economic climate.
“It could also not make savings by reducing staff as a lot of them had been there a long time and it could not afford the redundancy payments.
“The reserves had run down and with no sign of the economic situation improving the only thing they could do was go into administration.
“It is very sad to see an organisation which has played such a key role in the local community over the last 26 years having to close.
“The business has won a succession of accolades and awards and the staff, many of whom are volunteers, have worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for local women. It is hoped that by entering administration, negotiations can be held with various stakeholders in an attempt to rescue, if only in part, some of the business.”