Henfield Haven under threat of closure as Impact Initiatives end contract

Impact Initiatives, providers of dementia care at the Henfield Haven since their appointment by Henfield Haven CIO in November 2015, have withdrawn their services with immediate effect on 9 June 2020 leaving the future of the Haven uncertain. The news comes just a week after volunteers who saved the centre from closure in 2014 were celebrating receiving the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Impact Initiatives stated in a letter to the Haven CIO that: “This is regrettable and due to the ongoing coronavirus situation leaving us unable to deliver the group-based services we have over the last five years, for the foreseeable future”. The Brighton-based charity will not enter into any consultation or serve the seven months’ notice provided for in their contract with the Henfield Haven CIO due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak. They are in receipt of a West Sussex County Council grant to provide dementia services in Henfield and have stated that they intend to provide these services in another manner, away from the Henfield Haven. The future for the nine staff members employed by Impact Initiatives at the Henfield Haven is also uncertain; it is not known if they will face redundancy.

The Henfield Haven CIO Trustees have been left stunned at the sudden withdrawal by Impact Initiatives and the threat this brings to the dementia services provided by the Haven, which are a lifeline for many families in Henfield. They believe that any attempt for an organisation to provide long term dementia services solely in the home or remotely would be vastly inferior to the gold-standard services the Haven has been proud to provide in its bright, purpose-built setting in the heart of Henfield.

Malcolm Eastwood, a Trustee of the Henfield Haven CIO and also Chairman of Henfield Parish Council, said: “The timing of Impact’s decision to walk away from the Haven could hardly be worse, while we are working hard to re-open and ensure that our customers stay safe. The Henfield Haven has become an important part of our community, particularly for those who have dementia and their carers. It is particularly distressing for the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to create this great place. Even when closed because of Covid-19 the Haven has become the home of the Henfield Helpline with volunteers providing essential supplies to 500 elderly and vulnerable people in the village. Now our challenge is to extend that help to support the Haven in the hope that it can survive in a post-Covid-19 world.”

The Henfield Haven has been an unmitigated success and has been recognised as a shining example of volunteers mobilising to save, sustain and improve a critical service and community centre. In addition to providing several hundred high needs and carer support sessions each month, the Haven has a thriving café serving healthy, home cooked meals and also provides courses, activities and services to people of all ages, many of whom are elderly and isolated.

Chairman of the Henfield Haven CIO Digby Stephenson said: “We were euphoric after receiving royal recognition for our 60 volunteers and we have received a steady stream of congratulatory messages from supporters far and wide. Impact’s sudden withdrawal is extremely regrettable and the timing, right in the middle of a global pandemic, has put us in a very difficult position. Impact Initiatives has been our service provider for the last five years and the relationship has been committed and successful from both parties. We are deeply disappointed that we have not been afforded the opportunity to help resolve Impact Initiative’s problems during the notice period.

“Although shocked we are unbowed, the heart and soul of this community has been invested into the Henfield Haven. The services it provides were important back in 2015 and post Covid-19 they will be even more crucial. This is a major set-back, but we will not allow it to cast a shadow over the Haven.”

Henfield Haven CIO Trustees