Trustees of the charity which runs The Grove, a 30-bedrooom hotel for cancer patients and people with life-limiting illnesses, have put forward a proposal to close it on financial grounds.
Situated on the East Cliff, The Grove employs 34 staff. It is subsidised by Macmillan Caring Locally, the local charity founded in 1974 that supports the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital.
All current employees, most of whom are currently furloughed, have been informed of the proposal, confirmed Neal Williams, Trust secretary, Macmillan Caring Locally.
Mr Williams said, “Many of the staff have worked with us since The Grove opened in 2011, and some worked for us before that when we owned the Albany Lodge Hotel in Southbourne.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for the charity and we are in a position whereby we now have to look at reducing our costs to ensure that we can sustain our core services going forward.
“Whilst we are rightly proud of The Grove and the staff that work there, the current situation means that we have to make some very hard decisions about what is affordable and how our expenditure best serves our charitable purposes.
“It would be very difficult, and expensive, for us to make changes to The Grove to enable it to accept guests under the current guidelines and this would, inevitably, have a significant impact on other areas of our operation.
“As a result of this, a formal proposal has been made to permanently close the premises and make all employees who work there redundant.
“I am sure many of our guests have wonderful memories of the unique hospitality offered at The Grove, and of our colleagues who have worked so hard to create a very special experience for thousands of families.
“It is heartbreaking that we are now in a position whereby we may see the end of so much hard work and effort.”
The Grove is leased by the hotel owner, a private landlord, to Macmillan Caring Locally, which, although it has the Macmillan name, should not be confused with the national charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Mr Williams said, “Lockdown, quarantining and shielding made for an empty hotel.
“Most of our guests are medically vulnerable; some will find it challenging to travel to us safely on public transport and, even if they can get here, we would find it extremely difficult to accommodate them in an environment which meets the exacting standards relating to social distancing and other measures with which we are expected to comply.”
Paying tribute, he added, “The Grove is a multi-award-winning hotel thanks to the hard work, dedication and compassion of our staff and volunteers.
“They have created a wonderful, welcoming environment where their guests can relax, be entertained and enjoy the company of others, whilst forgetting the daily routines of hospital visits.
“Like most charities we have seen a huge impact on donations through the cancellation of all our fundraising events. We are working very hard to address this, but the reality is that, if this continues, our support of the Macmillan Unit could also be at risk.
“Our trustees have been left with no option but to consider the sale of our interest in The Grove or its closure.
“The advice we have received suggests that we are unlikely to receive much interest in the sale of our current lease, so we must prepare for the worst and now look towards making redundancies to minimise any further impact on the charity as a whole.”
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