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Age Action Ireland's shop on Dublin's Camden St. The charity is the latest to ask staff to take two weeks' unpaid leave in a bid to balance its books.
Age Action Ireland's shop on Dublin's Camden St. The charity is the latest to ask staff to take two weeks' unpaid leave in a bid to balance its books.
Image: Age Action Ireland

Age Action is latest charity to ask staff for unpaid leave

The elderly outreach charity says sustained cuts to statutory funding are making it a struggle to balance its books.
Aug 21st 2012, 6:30 PM 3,690 9

AGE ACTION IRELAND has become the latest charity to reveal it has had to ask staff to take two weeks’ unpaid leave in order to ensure it can stay in operation.

The charity says that while financial contributions from the public and income at its three stores have remained steady, cuts to its statutory funding – which are likely to be exacerbated in 2013 – have meant action is required to ensure services are not disrupted.

“We did attempt to spread the fortnight of unpaid leave across the year for people,” chief executive Eamon Timmins told this afternoon.

Timmins said that unlike the children’s charity Barnardos, which generally sees take-up of its services fall during the summer months, there was no naturally quiet period for Age Action to wind down some of its services. Barnardos last week closed its offices and services for a week in its efforts to keep its budget balanced for the year.

“Donations have actually held up, and the charity shops have held up particularly well this year,” Timmins said, “but we get a lot of statutory funding so there’d be a lot of 5 per cent, 10 per cent cuts in that.

“We would get some corporate funding, which is [also] winding down in various programmes,” he added.

What we’re striving for is to break even, [but] it’ll be very, very tough – there are so many things outside of our control: how successful fundraising will be, how successful the shops will be.

Though Timmins said the charity was taking measures to try and make itself less reliant on Exchequer funding, its current circumstances meant its pursuit of other methods of fundraising was restricted.

In addition to the two weeks’ unpaid leave, the charity’s four highest-paid staff have all taken a five per cent pay cut, while company contributions to staff pensions were suspended last year.

Timmins said staff had been very supportive and understanding of the measures required to maintain its services, while an upside to the financial downturn was that the charity had seen an increase in the number of volunteers offering their time.

“We haven’t had any cuts in services yet, and we’re working flat out here to make sure things stay the same,” Timmins said.

Most people are expecting a cut of statutory funding next year – the question is how deep that cut will be. How many charities will survive it, I don’t know.

You can donate to Age Action Ireland through its website. The charity has said it would particularly appreciate donations of saleable goods to its shops on Camden St, Dublin 2; Upper George’s St, Dún Laoghaire; and Glaslough St, Monaghan.

Read: More than half of ISPCC staff take unpaid leave

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Gavan Reilly


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