Redbridge employment charity Barnabas Workshops closes after 17 years helping thousands into work

Entrepreneurs in a meeting at the centre

Entrepreneurs in a meeting at the centre - Credit: Archant

An Ilford employment charity has closed after 17 years helping thousands of Redbridge residents into work.

Entrepreneurs in a meeting at the centre

Entrepreneurs in a meeting at the centre - Credit: Archant

Barnabas Workshops, in High Road, helped the unemployed apply for jobs, offered training and courses and ran a new business hub for entrepreneurs to start their own firms.

But on Thursday the centre shut its doors for the final time because of a lack of funding.

Chief executive Bernadette Benn said the board of trustees chose to go into voluntary liquidation because they could not afford to continue their work.

She added: “The grant from Redbridge Council would have been about £23,000 but Barnabas Workshops needs about £250,000 a year to maintain so really it was a drop in the ocean.”

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Many of the grants currently available from the council and government are based on the success of projects, meaning little money is paid until the end of courses when people are in work.

Mrs Benn said the model had made it difficult for charities that need funds to run programmes.

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Barnabas Workshops, founded in 1996, helped an estimated 3,000 jobseekers into work with projects including style talks, and the job shop and Creative Business Hub.

The charity’s last programme, for line parents, over 50s and people in social housing, was the last in a long line of successes.

Mrs Benn hailed the charity’s “unique approach” and described the decision to close as a “long, arduous journey”.

She added: “Valuable skills, expertise and vital support will now be lost to Redbridge.”

Mrs Benn left her job with the remaining four staff on Thursday, after ten more were gradually made redundant in the last year.

A spokesman said the council was “very sad” to hear of the closure and had “worked closely” with Barnabas over the years.

She added: “The charity’s enterprising work was recognised at the Mayor’s Annual Awards in 2012 when they received the Best Business award and they have also been a very important partner of the Work Redbridge partnership.

“They are an extremely valuable organisation and their closure will be a great loss to the local community and the many residents they have helped.”

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