A charity which provides advice to vulnerable Borderers faces imminent homelessness after the company from which it rents its premises went into voluntary liquidation.
The Borders Independent Advocacy Service (BIAS), which employs eight advisers and deals with around 400 clients a year, has been based at The Hive – a converted mill in Low Buckholmside, Galashiels – for the past eight years.
But BIAS, whose funders include the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council, has been told it must vacate the premises by the end of this month and, according to manager Karen Palmer, it has nowhere else to go.
It follows the recent decision of the board of The Hive – which owns the building and was formerly known as GalaDay Services – to wind up the company and place it in liquidation. As a result, The Hive’s two permanent members of staff have lost their jobs.
Apart from BIAS, several other tenants of the building – mostly charities – have also been given their marching orders, including the befriending service Interest Link and the Borders Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network which held regular drop-in sessions there. Both have now vacated the premises, shortly to be followed by the Elder Voice group which is disbanding after 14 years. Tenants were given the news in a letter from joint liquidator Bill Cleghorn on June 24.
“After due consideration, the liquidators have reached a decision to close the premises as soon as possible,” stated the letter.
The tenants later met the liquidators when it was confirmed they would have to be out by the end of July.
“It’s a nightmare prospect,” said Ms Palmer. “BIAS merged its Galashiels and Kelso services to come here and we have many vulnerable and disabled clients for whom the ground-floor premises have been ideal. I’ve told the liquidators it will be impossible to find a new home by the end of this month and we have requested an extension.”
Mr Cleghorn said: “We are currently exploring all options, but the main issue is that the value of the company [TheHive] is entirely tied up in the building.”
BIAS formed as a pilot project in 1995 and worked mainly with individuals with community care or health-related complaints or concerns. Over the years, this generic form of advocacy expanded to offer advice for vulnerable people in the community. The organisation is now a limited company and registered charity.