Serenity Cafe forced to close after running out of cash

A lifeline charity for people in recovery has been forced to close just five months after a desperate scramble for new premises.

Thursday, 8th November 2018, 7:38 am
Updated Thursday, 8th November 2018, 7:43 am
Serenity Cafe has been forced to close. Picture: Greg Macvean

The board of directors of Comas, established a decade ago to support those recovering from addiction, said despite attempts to find emergency funding there was no way the operation can stay afloat.

Serenity Cafe was at the core of the charity’s services and was a safe drug and alcohol free community set up and run by volunteers in recovery, who have been left devastated by the loss of the service.

A statement from the board read: “Following a recent financial assessment and review by the CEO and the board unfortunately Comas is going to have to close and wind up, as our liabilities exceed our assets.

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“Over the last couple of weeks, the CEO and board have explored all options, but I am sorry to say that the board took a final decision on Thursday November 1 that there was no alternative other than to liquidate the company. Emergency funding options have been explored, including meeting with two MSP’s, but unfortunately there are no quick fixes.

“We looked at all options including administration, CVA and other funding solutions but given the overall financial position we find ourselves in, there is no alternative but to cease trading and liquidate the company.”

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The statement added that the charity would work with all the people it supports to ensure they are referred to other organisations where appropriate.

Labour MSP for Edinburgh and the Lothians Kezia Dugdale raised a motion asking the Scottish Parliament to note its disappointment and regret over the closure and to consider the gaping hole in services available to the recovering community, compounded by an extremely challenging funding environment for all charities and social enterprises.

She added: “The closure of Comas is a real disappointment. The charity performed ground-breaking work in providing both opportunities and a safe haven for Edinburgh’s recovering community.

“Serenity was much more than a café, and its absence leaves a gaping hole in vital community services.

“I would like to personally thank the staff, board, volunteers and customers for their commitment over the years.”

Aimed at people who felt disconnected or excluded from society or isolated by health and social issues, the facility also offered a place of work to many, enabling and empowering them through the opportunity to earn income or take the first steps into volunteering.

It faced homelessness when in May, the tenancy agreement at their Holyrood home came to an abrupt end. A plea for help to find a new premises was met and in June the cafe moved to The Pleasance.

The charity offered activities, including learning programs, social and hobby groups as well as fellowship and recovery support groups, and a women’s project.