As of July 31st, the Centre will be closing its doors to visiting schools and groups. Sadly, the funding crisis has now reached such proportions that there is no alternative.
Problems with funding are not new. The Centre has struggled for adequate funding right from the start. It has always been a constant battle to ensure that funds would be available to maintain and increase the conservation value of the Centre, as well as to provide educational activities. Despite the fact that the Trust has built up an excellent track record and reputation on both accounts, the struggle seems to have got harder, rather than easier.
The current crisis with funding has been foreseen for some time. The Trust has been making every effort over the past three years to convince local funders of the benefits of the Centre and to stress that help was needed now rather than later if those benefits were to continue. Much time and research has also gone into identifying new sources of funding from further afield and to making grant applications. Some of these have been successful and have provided interim funding, while others have not. However, it is a sad fact that if staff are dealing with the day to day running of the Centre, as well as delivering education, they cannot also be devoting time to fundraising.
Part of the problem with funding lies in the fact that there is little money available at present for effective action in the countryside. Most of what is available is aimed at community projects utilizing volunteers and with staff costs ineligible for inclusion. This is very short-sighted, because while volunteers have a valuable role to play, they still need staff to guide them. There are very few grant schemes which will pay salaries, so that it all becomes one of those chicken and egg situations.