Concerns over €1m shortfall at Longford's St Christopher’s Services

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

St Christopher's

Imelda Reynolds, Carmel Flynn and Jackie Clarke. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

St Christopher's Services is facing into a €1m shortfall amid claims HSE funding inefficiencies is hampering its ability to invest in a string of key support services.

Speaking at its annual general meeting last Tuesday evening, Chief Executive Officer Derek Scanlon said the past 12 months had seen the services face many challenges, not least the financial challenges brought about by many years of underfunding.

ALSO READ: No threats to services at Longford's St Christopher's despite seven figure deficit

“This time last year we were reporting on the ongoing challenges of securing funding for the services going into 2018,” he added.

“Through extensive negotiations and some cost changes on our side we were able to agree a new baseline funding arrangement with the HSE for 2018 and beyond.

“We were able to make a successful case for continued increased baseline funding.”

Mr Scanlon went on to say that those efforts have allowed him to say “with certainty” that the current services being provided by St Christopher’s are secure.

The result and effect of the underfunding, however, now means that St Christopher’s Services carries a debt burden of almost €1m, he then highlighted.

“As of two weeks ago we have finalised the restructure with Bank of Ireland, however the repayments required on that loan will lessen our ability to invest in services in the coming years.

“Notwithstanding the good news, though, that we have got enough baseline funding to break even in the current year; we have a significant deficiency in relation to areas such as support services - namely behavioural supports, psychology, social work and ICT - and we are not in receipt of adequate funding from the HSE for these areas.”

Mr Scanlon went on to tell the AGM that the total projected cumulative deficiency position including the requirements mentioned and that of the organisation’s existing €1m deficit amounted to €2.2m.

“There is no doubt that this is quite a significant challenge for the Services moving forward,” Mr Scanlon added.

“With all of the financial needs mentioned in mind, the Board of Directors has agreed that part of my focus in the coming year will be on fundraising efforts with large corporations.

“That is not to set aside any of the good work that local communities and volunteers take part in, but is to target a different market that we haven’t tapped into before in relation to corporate social responsibility programmes in larger companies.”