Harrogate MP steps in after charity's shock 'closure' announcement over Henshaws arts and crafts centre

Harrogate and Knaresborough's MP has stepped into the controversy over the future of Henshaw's Arts & Crafts Centre.

By Graham Chalmers
Monday, 15th June 2020, 3:30 pm
"I want to help Henshaws move forward and to secure the future of the arts and crafts centre" - Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
"I want to help Henshaws move forward and to secure the future of the arts and crafts centre" - Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.

Andrew Jones's intervention comes after he was approached by anxious parents alarmed by last week's shock announcement by the chief executive of the Manchester-based charity that the much-loved facility at Bond End in Knaresborough would stay closed for the forseeable future.

Andrew Jones has now offered to help bring funders together once the organisation has mapped out how it wants to move forward in its work as a charity supporting people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to go beyond expectations across the north of England.

The offer comes after the sudden announcement that staff at the arts and crafts facility were put on notice of potential redundancy last week amid talk of financial problems amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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MP Andrew Jones has already held emergency online meetings with Henshaws chief executive Nick Marr and North Yorkshire County Council who are the organisation’s major funder.

Mr Jones commented: “It seems to me that there are a number of issues here and not really a lot of clarity on a way forward yet.

"There seem to have been long term funding issues for the supported living and the arts and crafts section of the business.

"The impact of COVID-19 may have brought these issues into sudden and sharp focus.

"However this point was reached, it prompted management to issue the unexpected notices of redundancy risk to their staff, and notices of closure to the many service users, who had previously been unaware of any potential problems.

“We can’t go back in time and change whatever led us to this point.

"But I do want to help Henshaws move forward and to secure the future of the arts and crafts centre.

"To do this we need a clear plan of how the facility is to develop so that discussions can be held with potential funders.

“I have asked the chief executive to provide me with that vision for the future of the charity and I want to support him in taking that vision to the County Council and other funders to secure ongoing support.

Mr Jones continued: "Without such a vision – a plan for how the charity moves forward – it is unlikely that funding will come forward.

“And we are talking about people with profound challenges and a range of disabilities who rely on the services provided by Henshaws.

"That is why it is important to chart a sustainable way forward supported by the many councils involved and by the service users.

"The services Henshaws provide and its place at the heart of our community deserve every effort to be made to ensure its long-term future.

“I will play my part in those discussions and doing what I can to help secure the funding needed to back the clear vision the organisation brings forward.”

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