Substance abuse charity closes with the loss of 46 jobs

The Forum for Action on Substance Abuse said its demise was down to cash-flow problems

The Northern Ireland-based charity Forum for Action on Substance Abuse has closed with the loss of 46 jobs, the charity has confirmed.

The charity, which delivers addiction and suicide-prevention services for Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency, the Health and Social Care Board and health and social care trusts, said in a statement on its Facebook page last week that the charity faced "the prospect of immediate and terminal financial insolvency" and that all services were therefore suspended.

A further Facebook statement on Saturday confirmed that liquidation will commence on 16 March and said that the charity’s demise was because of cash-flow problems. Thirteen members of staff have stayed behind in a voluntary capacity to transfer beneficiaries to other services.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland said it was aware of concerns around the charity and was looking into the case.

The FASA statement said: "We would like to clarify that FASA's current financial status has not come as a result of our funding being withdrawn for the services we provide. The organisation in recent months has experienced financial hardship in relation to cash-flow problems in sustaining the full range of services that FASA have provided to meet the needs of its services’ users.

"In recent years FASA has endeavoured with support of our funders to become a regional organisation. Unfortunately, the risk elements attached to this strategy have proven to be detrimental to the organisation’s existence."

The statement said FASA has asked the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland to carry out a full independent financial audit.

According to its annual accounts for the year to 31 March 2015, the charity had an income and expenditure of about £1.9m.

The accounts also mention "the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the charity’s ability to continue as a going concern".

A spokeswoman for the DHSSPS said: "Following the announcement by FASA, commissioners ‎will be considering the implications and measures that might be taken to ensure the need in these crucial areas can continue to be most appropriately met in these circumstances."

A spokeswoman for the CCNI said: "I can confirm that the CCNI is aware of concerns in relation to the organisation, FASA, which we are investigating. The charity is co-operating with the commission’s investigation."

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition on the website  calling for FASA’s services to be kept going.

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