THE Scottish Government is being urged to ensure a long-standing city charity which employs people with disabilities is not allowed to go the same way as two similar enterprises which were forced to close.
St Jude’s Laundry at Duddingston, run by Forth Sector, last week axed 17 roles – nearly a quarter of the workforce – after suffering a series of financial problems.
One worker who had been with the laundry for almost 30 years told the Evening News that he turned up for work as normal, only to find that he was no longer needed.
It comes after Edinburgh’s Blindcraft factory, which made beds and mattresses, had to shut after losing its council funding in 2011.
And in 2014, the Engine Shed, a cafe and bakery which employed disabled adults, was forced to close after the council withdrew funding.
The laundry, which mainly services the hospitality and catering sector, includes individuals, businesses, sports centres, schools, colleges and universities among its clients, with a business specialising in bed linen, table linen and towels.
Business minister Fergus Ewing has written to MSPs, saying the Scottish Government has been working with all the relevant parties to ensure “a long-term and sustainable future for the vital services Forth Sector provides”, including “an extensive package of support being provided by Scottish Enterprise”.
And he said the government was committed to enabling a sustainable future for supported businesses.
Lothian MSP and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said St Jude’s Laundry had played a vital role in providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in East Edinburgh for more than 40 years.
She said: “Communities and people who rely on these types of organisations in Edinburgh have suffered in recent years with the closure of similar services like Blindcraft and the Engine Shed.
“To hear that staff have turned up after years of service to be told they are no longer needed is deeply worrying.” She continued:
“I will be writing to the minister and asking what exactly will be offered in terms of support from the government and Scottish Enterprise.
“Those affected need the government to ensure everything is done to ensure a long-term and sustainable future for Forth Sector, the organisations it supports such as St Jude’s and similar projects in Edinburgh do not see the same fate as those services that went before them.”