Lack of referrals and a failed property sell-off blamed
One of Scotland’s oldest charities, which has been in operation since 1843, is to be wound up.
Balnacraig School, based in Perth, has announced that it will stop providing care for young people in December.
It said a lack of referrals for its services and a failed property sell-off meant the decision to end operations had to be taken, with “great regret”.
Balnacraig School has 28 employees in a mix of care, education, finance, administration and maintenance roles. There will be four immediate redundancies, and the remaining staff will be retained until their services are no longer needed.
The charity said that provision has been made for continuity of care among service users.
Balnacraig has cared for around 2000 children since the charity was established in Perth in the wake of the industrial revolution in 1843 to help girls left abandoned and homeless because of the squalor and over-crowding in cities and towns.
Since 1950 it has operated from a large listed baronial mansion at Fairmount Terrace in Perth, which was put up for sale in 2019 with the aim of opening more houses suitable for small group living better able to meet the needs of the young people using its services.
The school had been offering 52 week placements for young people with what it described as a "variety of long-term barriers in their lives as a result of many background factors" in Perth and houses in the city as well as Blairgowrie and Errol.
David Law, chair of the board of trustees, said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we made the decision to seek liquidation. The key factor that determined the decision to stop providing care was a lack of referrals which suggested that there is no longer a need for the sort of service we provide. Our hope however, had been that we would to be able to continue as a charity for young people. Our ability to continue was linked to the sale of the properties at Fairmount Terrace.
“Unfortunately, these sales have fallen through, and we have been left with no choice, given we are no longer receiving referrals, but to seek liquidation. Fortunately, our plans for our young people to move on are well advanced and the decision to seek liquidation will have no effect on these plans, however unfortunately, staff will be directly affected.”
Shona Campbell, business recovery and insolvency partner at Henderson Loggie has been appointed provisional liquidator.
She said: “Efforts were made by the leadership team at Balnacraig School to adapt its services to meet the changing needs of the young people it was set up to support. It has been a privilege to work with trustees to formulate a strategy that allows the charity to meet its obligations.
“Provision has been made to provide continuity of care and we will work with the relevant authorities to ensure a smooth transition. We are very grateful to staff for their ongoing support, and we will work with them to ensure they receive their employment entitlements from the government.”
In 2018, Balnacraig School was among a group of institutions added to those being looked at by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, following instances of historical abuse.
In 2015, former head teacher David Cowling was jailed after being found guilty of sexually assaulting pupils at the school more than 40 years ago.