A Sleaford charity which has been helping homeless people for the last 23 years is taking the painful decision to close its doors.
Sleaford and District Furniture Recycling Project supplies furniture for people being rehomed by local authorities and other social housing referral agencies in and around the town.
Trustees made the announcement to the three full time, one part time and eight volunteers at the end of August and the warehouse on East Road will need to be cleared by September 29.
Operations Manager Hayley Fallon said: “It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing the closure of the charity.
“It is a funding issue, we can no longer afford to run the charity - with rising rents/utilities we can not continue.”
She added: “We do not get funded at all, so what we make by selling excess stock is how we survive and there has been a drop in customers over the past year.”
All remaining stock is being sold off cheaply, such as sofas/suites £30, big items £20, medium items £10, small items £5.
Hayley said: “We have cleared almost half the warehouse so far but holding on to some pieces in case of late referrals.”
She did not know what alternative people would turn to in the run-up to Christmas if rehoused, as the nearest other furniture charity is in Grantham. “Not everyone has the transport to get there and then get it back,” she said.
She also felt sad for the team of volunteers: “It is a lifeline for them as they may not be able to have a job but they get to see people once a week. We have had people flocking in to ask why we are closing and saying how upset they are, including some who have benefitted in the past.”
Chairman of trustees, Keith Dolby explained: “The outgoings were vastly exceeding the income and had been for a year or two and the position became untenable - that was the problem. We were dipping into reserves for some time and wanted to close before we got into debt.
“It is not a decision we have taken lightly. The trustees can close the business but we cannot dissolve the charity without the permission of the members.”
He went on: “The aim of the charity when it started was to fulfill referalls (for furniture for rehoused tenants) but we have not had many referrals from North Kesteven or South Kesteven for quite a long time.”
He said he had tried to contact the British Heart Foundation furniture recycling charity to see if they were interested in taking over from the Sleaford project but had been unsuccessful so far.
Coun John Money, Executive Board Member with special interest in Housing at North Kesteven District Council, said: “The Sleaford Furniture Recycling Project has always been a valuable resource for our customers and our officers when assisting customers in need and our support for the project has not changed.
“Some customers who reside at the northern end of the district have the option to consider closer provision as transporting the items is easier, however the Sleaford project would always be our first referral route, and their closure will create a gap in much needed assistance for the vulnerable residents of our district.”