Charity may have to decide which centre to close

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ONE of two counselling centres could close unless enough money can be found to save an under-threat charity, it has been revealed.

Leaders at Off The Record are considering an option of closing either the Portsmouth or Havant branch in order to stay afloat.

But they are hoping this painful decision will not have to be made.

It comes after positive talks were held with Portsmouth City Council last Friday.

The charity’s vice-chairwoman Paula Riches met with city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson to ask for more money than the £10,000 already offered by the authority.

Peter Mills, chairman of the charity, said Ms Riches had had a very ‘helpful’ meeting.

The charity is also pursuing a grant from Hampshire police.

Mr Mills told The News: ‘It seems likely some additional funding will come our way.

‘He was not able to promise but gave a clear indication that he’s looking at alternative pots of money.’

The charity’s board decided they have sufficient funds to run as normal for April, May and June.

The charity needs a minimum of £80,000 to keep both centres open over the next financial year and currently has £25,000 in the kitty.

Big decisions will need to be made when the Annual General Meeting takes place in July .

‘At that point we make a decision on whether our finances are strong enough to continue in the present way,’ said Mr Mills.

‘If they are not then over the next three months, we would close down of one of our centres and retrench on a single centre.’

Board members have not decided which centre would close.

The charity has offices in Fratton Road, Fratton and Purbrook Way, Leigh Park. Both have a peppercorn rent.

Mr Mills said it was important any closure was not abrupt.

Mr Mills said: ‘We would do it over a three-month period so youngsters already in the system would have a reasonable chance of getting their problems resolved before we actually closed.’

The board has considered the worst case scenario that if no extra funding can be found the service would close by the end of the year.

But Mr Mills is hoping no closures will be necessary. He added: ‘What we all hope is that by the end of June our finances have improved so that we don’t have to implement the closure programme.’