Legendary disabled sports charity faces a battle to survive

The SportsAble charity is fighting to survive – following a disastrous year that has seen an investigation by the Charity Commission and the winding up of its subsidiary business company.

The Braywick Road based charity dates back to 1975 and is internationally respected for its work with disabled sportsmen and women. Its athletes have competed internationally and won numerous medals.

The investigation by the Charity Commission wound up in May. The commission’s final letter to the charity referred to ‘serious failings with evidence of trustee mismanagement and misconduct’.

But it concluded that ‘appropriate’ and ‘significent’ steps had been taken to put matters right.

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On Thursday Royal Borough councillors gave a sympathetic hearing to the charity’s new deputy chairman Julia Chester, who told councillors: “We have been through a painful process. It was hard work to supply the Charity Commission with all the things they required but nevertheless it as been beneficial.

“We feel the charity is stronger and in a much better place as a consequence.”

The closure of the SportsAble Enterprise Ltd subsidiary company owned by the charity has been a massive financial blow. It operated independently to bring in much needed funds by enabling social occasions like weddings to take place at the charity’s headquarters – something that rules governing charities will not allow SportsAble to continue with since the lockdown forced the company to file for insolvency.

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The charity faces mounting costs as it tries to survive in a post-Covid world.

Ms Chester told councillors: “Cleaning the premises six days a week will cost £14,000 a year, four times what we were paying pre-Covid.

“We have to come up with a totally different model for the operation to put ourselves on a sound business footing.

“We have got to be very creative in how we use our building and our resources in order to bring in the cash we need to run the sports.”

At Thursday’s council meeting the Royal Borough’s head of governance and partnerships David Scott told Ms Chester that the authority would do what it could to support the charity in its bid to find partners to pool resources with.

Working with People to Places and the Slough Community Volunteer Service are among the possibilities being examined.

Slough Observer | News