Funding cuts force young offenders charity to close

The offices of Caledonia Youth, on Castle Terrace. Pic: Esme Allen

The offices of Caledonia Youth, on Castle Terrace. Pic: Esme Allen

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A CHARITY that supports young offenders and promotes sexual health is set to close after nearly half a century due to funding cuts.

Caledonia Youth will wind up in spring after several organisations including the city council and Scottish Government withdrew grants.

The charity was recently forced to close a sexual health clinic in the city centre when NHS Lothian withdrew financial support.

Thousands of under-25s from the Lothians used the Castle Terrace-based outlet each year. A charity spokesman said it was with “great regret” that they had to announce the closure which will sound the death knell for 11 jobs and add to the “dearth of service provision”.

He said: “While the team has worked hard to secure new sources of income and been successful in doing so for many years, like other colleagues in the third sector we have faced a constant reduction in statutory funding.

“For us, this culminated in the termination of our contract with NHS Lothian earlier this year to deliver a specialist clinic in Edinburgh, which had served young people in the region since 1968, along with our school-based programme to help increase 
knowledge.

“Having exhausted alternative funding avenues vital to the sustainability of our charity, the Board of Trustees has made the difficult decision to wind up Caledonia 
Youth.”

The organisation offered advice on areas ranging from personal relationships, emotional wellbeing and risk-taking behaviour, through the provision of counselling, intensive one-to-one support and education, reaching out to 8000 youths in Lothian in the last 12 months.

For the last seven years, it had a special team working with young people in custody to help reduce reoffending behaviour with nearly 8000 youngsters across Scotland.

Charity bosses said the focus was now to ensure that young people were supported through its closure and directed to similar organisations, like the Capital’s main sexual health clinic in Chalmers Street.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has been informed that Caledonia Youth’s last day of operation will be on March 31, 2015.

City council health leader Ricky Henderson said it was “disappointing” for the city to lose the institution.

He said: “It is another example of the situation within the public sector these days with funding getting withdrawn.

“I think it is a mistake as third sector organisations have a great deal of potential to support the work that everybody wants to do.

“It’s disappointing that an organisation has got to call it a day, especially one that has been operating in the city for as long as Caledonia Youth.”

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com