The Western Isles Foyer youth service, the Stornoway charity which helps to stop young people ‘falling through the cracks’ in the social support system, is to close next month, it was announced today (Wednesday 4 November).

The charity’s board has declared the organisation a casualty of the failure in the subsea cable, which is starving principal funder Point and Sandwick Trust of renewable energy income.

Western Isles Foyer project was founded in 2003 and provides advice, support and information for young people aged 16-26 who are homeless, in housing need or are socially disadvantaged.

Board chair Matt Bruce said: “The local power cut that occurred on 16 October, due to a failure of the electricity cable under the Minch, has had devastating results.

“It stopped the transmission of electrical output from the Western Isles. The immediate impact of this was that all local wind farms, including Point Power, were no longer able to generate any income.

“Point and Sandwick Trust (the charitable arm of Point Power) notified Western Isles Foyer on 28 October that it would no longer be able to pay out any grant funding for the current financial year and possibly next year.

"The prioritised grant of £50,000 represented a quarter of Foyer's total required budget for the current financial year and was planned to be handed over in November.

“Given the changed financial situation facing the Foyer, its directors held an EGM on 29 October and made the very tough decision that the organisation was no longer viable to continue trading and would therefore need to cease trading, resulting in all of Foyer's staff team having to be made redundant.

“This decision has been made with huge regret and in the knowledge that other island bodies do not have sufficient funds available to cover this shortfall at such short notice, especially given the current global Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Foyer's committee's directors would like to take this opportunity to thank Foyer's staff team, past and present, for their dedication and hard work in supporting vulnerable local young people.

"We would also like to thank all partner agencies and funders, including Point and Sandwick Trust, for all of their input over the last 18 years to help support the achievement of positive outcomes for the young people that Foyer support.”

A closing date of 2 December has been set and, in the meanwhile, Foyer is continuing to operate.

The directors are consulting with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, NHS Western Isles and other partner agencies to ensure that young people will continue to receive appropriate levels of support.

Photo: Foyer premises on Bayhead (Western Isles Foyer).