Progressio to close next year

The international development charity has been unable to replace a government grant; at least 70 jobs will be lost

Progressio work in Zimbabwe (photograph: Marcus Perkins)
Progressio work in Zimbabwe (photograph: Marcus Perkins)

The international development charity Progressio is to close next year with the loss of at least 70 staff.

The charity, which was founded in 1940 and is registered with the Charity Commission under its legal name of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, said the funding landscape had become increasingly difficult and it had been unable to replace a £2m unrestricted grant from the Department for International Development that comes to an end in December.

The charity, which operates in countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America, works to relieve poverty by working with local partners in the developing world and running a volunteer service.

It employs 70 full-time-equivalent staff around the world, including 24 full-time-equivalent employees at its headquarters in London.

Progressio warned in July that it might have to close if it could not secure £2m in funding and began a consultation on how to handle its possible closure.

It has made a loss in each of the past two years and had an income of £5.8m and expenditure of £6.1m in the year to the end of March 2015.

At a review meeting last week, trustees unanimously decided to close the charity and it is expected to shut down by the end of March.

The charity said it would complete all project and partner commitments as far as possible and hoped that other projects for which funding continued past April would be taken on by other organisations.

Progressio said it would hand back its subcontract to provide places under the International Citizen Service to the main contract holder VSO.

The charity provided 349 placements under the scheme in 2015/16 in countries including Malawi, Zimbabwe and Honduras. 

Martin McEnery, chair of Progressio, said the decision to close the charity came despite intensive fundraising efforts and many years of work to diversify income.

"Unfortunately, the funding landscape has become increasingly competitive and we have been unable to replace the £2m unrestricted grant from DfID, which comes to an end in December 2016," he said.

"We have reached this decision with great sadness. We are hugely proud of all that has been achieved since the charity was formed in 1940.

"In particular, we appreciate and thank all of our staff, development workers and volunteers, as well as all our supporters both in the UK and in-country.

"Their hard work and dedication have helped our partners and some of the world’s most marginalised communities achieve incredible things, empower themselves and challenge unfair power structures."

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