Life-saving facilities under threat by proposed closures, says Brown

Alliance South Down candidate Councllor Patrick Brown has said the proposed closure of nearly a dozen social support organisations risks removing “life-saving” facilities from across Northern Ireland.

The Department for Communities announced the 11 social enterprise hubs will be closing via an email sent to the hubs on Tuesday (January 31). The tenants, many of whom rely on the premises to provide services to disadvantaged individuals as well as selling products, were given the date of March 21 to vacate premises, with no traditional or support funding offered to the tenants beyond that.

The hubs facilitate the removal of vacant premises in town centres by encouraging small business start-ups within local communities. In many cases they have become vibrant centres of community activity, and directly contribute to the regeneration of deprived areas.

Councillor Brown said many of the hubs provide life-saving services for hundreds of vulnerable people in each area.

“It is an absolute disgrace the Department for Communities has allowed this to happen. For the last year they have been kicking the can down the street regarding their commitment to funding them, and now it appears they have completely shirked that responsibility.

“There is clearly no plan to assist these fledgling organisations after they move out, many of whom provide life-saving services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. This is evidenced by the fact the tenants have been given just over a month to coordinate their exit strategies and leave the premises, which they found out about via a very blunt and sudden email on Monday.

“These Hubs are not just about developing social enterprises, but developing their own communities where people from all backgrounds can come together and create a positive change in their lives.”

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