Middlesbrough mediation charity closes with 31 jobs lost

Unite has shut down because of difficult economic circumstances, but only five of the staff have not yet found new positions elsewhere

A Middlesbrough-based mediation charity has closed with the loss of 31 jobs.

Unite, which offered a range of services, including family and workplace mediation and anger management training in north-east England, closed because of increasingly difficult economic circumstances in the Tees Valley, the charity said.

Helen Lowrie, chief executive of Unite, told Third Sector that only five of the 31 staff had not found new jobs elsewhere, and she hoped those five would have new roles sorted out in the next few days.

She said that the charity wanted to close "on a high", rather than dwindling away over the next few years.

"It’s a positive reason why we have decided to close," Lowrie said. "We have very high standards here and we have done for more than 24 years. We have made a decision that we would rather go out on a high, having won three national awards in 2016, with cash in the bank and with our integrity and quality standards uncompromised than wither on the vine while the economic climate in the north east continues to tighten."

According to the Charity Commission website, the charity had an income of £214,825 and spent £250,892 in the year to 31 March 2016. It had an income of £326,442 in 2011/12.

Lowrie said the charity was looking into whether it could spawn micro-businesses to take over some of its work, which she said would be positive for the region and could be run by former Unite staff.

She said: "We don’t want go to a smaller structure, and we have made that decision as a company. What we’re trying to do is help anyone who is interested – both those who have worked with us for years or those who have just joined us – to build their own ideas.

"We’ve had a lot of contracts and we’re hoping some of those people can pick up some of the work. They’re small, so they won’t have the overheads we have, and we want to stop while we’re on the top of our game."

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