This has been a really tough decision to reach. Firstly, with great sadness and after careful consideration of all the feedback, the Board has decided to proceed with the closure of CLIC Sargent’s holiday service. Secondly, during the consultation CLIC Sargent was approached by a local interested group, who have expressed an interest in the house. In order to give them further time to progress their plans, the Board has agreed that CLIC Sargent will continue talks with the group.
These are really tough times and it is crucial that CLIC Sargent stays financially healthy to protect the vital frontline support we provide for vulnerable young cancer patients. This means reducing our operating costs as soon as possible and replenishing our reserves longer term. While there‘s no question that the holiday service at Malcolm Sargent House has provided an excellent service, it would be irresponsible to continue spending more than half a million pounds a year on a service that only 5% of all the families we support access.
We’re talking to the staff at Malcolm Sargent House about what this means for them and will support them as much as we possibly can through this change. We understand many of the staff have many years’ experience and memories of the service at Malcolm Sargent House and this will be a really sad and emotional time for them. We are very grateful to the holiday service staff for all of their years’ service and the contribution they have made for the children, young people with cancer and their families who have holidayed at the house in Prestwick.
We know many of the volunteers have many years’ experience and memories of the holiday service and this will be a difficult time for them too. We really appreciate the personal contribution they have made to the holiday service and will continue to offer them support. We’ll also offer alternative volunteering opportunities where we can but understand that some people may not want to volunteer with us following this decision.
As we’ve been in consultation we’ve not taken any steps towards selling the house yet, so we now need to explore opportunities to sell the building, including to the local interested group. We need to get the building professionally valued in the coming weeks and look at our options for sale and at the same time our conversations with the local group will continue. We also need to think about what we do with the contents of the house.
We are aware of one family who have buried their child’s ashes in the garden at Malcolm Sargent House and are in close contact with this family to make suitable arrangements to have the ashes and their memorial moved. To the best of our knowledge there is only one family in this position. Now that a decision to end the holiday service provision at Malcolm Sargent House has been taken, we will ensure the memories of this child and all children who have visited Malcolm Sargent House are appropriately marked and respected.
Our social care workers already support many children, young people and their families to access holidays from a range of other organisations and charities across the UK, and we’ll continue to do this. We have put together a bank of resources and will provide some dedicated time to support staff in using this information.
Our social care staff will continue to provide support to those who are bereaved. We will also continue to work closely with Child Bereavement UK and other charities to provide specialist bereavement support to families across the UK.
We‘d like to thank everyone who has been in touch with us about our proposal to close the holiday service at Malcolm Sargent House. During the consultation, we heard from more than 400 individuals, and two petitions received close to 12,000 signatures. We had detailed discussions with the holiday service staff as well as CLIC Sargent employees across the charity. We have heard from community groups, current and former service users across the UK, volunteers, donors, political representatives and business owners, other charities, and the media, and we recognise the strength and depth of feeling that has been expressed by so many about this service.
Everyone who engaged with the process demonstrated their enormous commitment to children and young people with cancer. Many expressed their sadness at the proposal but understood the financial predicament we’re dealing with. Many others expressed concern, disappointment or anger at the proposal.
We were presented with a number of alternative proposals and ideas during the course of the consultation. Some of these were in relation to the wider financial circumstances of the charity and we want to develop them further, to improve other aspects of our services and the way we work.
Many young people who have stayed at Malcolm Sargent House were in contact with us expressing their sadness about the proposal but understanding the pressures we are under as a charity and the reasons for the proposal. Others who had used the holiday service felt it was too valuable to stop funding and had questions about the proposal.
We held meetings for directly affected staff and answered their questions, collating their feedback. We held meetings and Q&A sessions for staff across the charity; face to face, by phone and online, we provided information for managers and worked with staff representatives to ensure their questions were answered and feedback was listened to. We talked with volunteers for the service and fundraisers both in Prestwick and more widely across the UK, responding to questions they had through emails, phone calls, face to face meetings and letters. We met with political representatives at local, national, and UK levels, and responded to their questions through phone calls and emails. We also met with and spoke to representatives from other charities, the local council, businesses, and organisations to fully explore alternative proposals and engaged in extensive dialogue with a local interested group keen to put forward an alternative proposal. Everyone’s feedback was included in the final deliberations at the end of the consultation.
A number of alternative proposals were put forward during the consultation. We were really clear that we’d look at any alternative proposals that met the scale of savings we needed in the timeframe required.
Some of the ideas suggested part-sale of Malcolm Sargent House and changing the way the holiday service was run. Others suggested we looked at voluntary redundancies across the charity, running Malcolm Sargent House as a part-commercial operation, or dividing up the property and running a scaled down, self-catering holiday service.
Most of these suggestions didn’t provide savings or capital on the scale or within the timeframe that CLIC Sargent requires. Two alternative proposals were explored in greater detail, both from a local interested group. The first was an approach to take on CLIC Sargent’s holiday service as a going concern but after careful consideration it was clear this wasn’t a viable alternative.
The second looked at whether an alternative provider could purchase the building and set up an independent holiday service. We received a proposal to this effect from this group which indicated an interest in the future of Malcolm Sargent House and we are in on-going talks with the group.
We did. Every alternative proposal was properly considered, and we responded in detail to everyone that put suggestions forward, often through meetings, emails and phone calls to ensure any alternative suggestions could be fully developed.