A Tonbridge homelessness charity has made an urgent plea to help find alternative new warehouse facilities that are essential for its work.
The Bridge Trust has operated a used furniture project for the past 13 years, but it has now been forced to sell up its stock for the second time in 18 months.
As its Chief Executive John Handley explained, its charity stores had benefited significantly from leasing a storage facility situated in Cannon Lane in Tonbridge.
But with plans for a new McDonald’s drive-through on the site, the Trust had to move out in April 2015, with the only affordable location being its present warehouse on the edge of Paddock Wood.
However, as Mr Handley admitted, the out-of-town site has failed to attract sufficient custom to make it financially viable.
As previously reported by the Times, the charity had already faced a severe blow this summer after being forced to sell one of several properties it owns in the Tonbridge area to house homeless people from across West Kent, due to ongoing financial challenges.
Mr Handley said: “As with any business, whether a charity or not, it makes no sense to continue to invest money in a failing operation.
“We tried everything we possibly could to make it work, with masses of marketing and PR and, after taking professional advice, we even changed the business model somewhat to try and generate more sales but alas, nothing seemed to work for us.”
He hopes that despite the challenges being faced by the charity, its two Tunbridge Wells stores would still be supported.
He added: “It is a very sad day regarding our warehouse – for the staff there who have had to leave, the community who benefited for so many years from what we provided and indeed for the Trust as the warehouse generated significant excess funds we needed to help our work with local homeless people.
“So not only have we all lost a valuable community resource, the Trust has to work out how to survive with £30,000 a year less income.”
If anyone can assist, contact the Bridge Trust on 01732 368363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.