SportsAble charity announces closure after 46 years

Charity Commission describes 'serious failings' by SportsAble trustees

A disability sports charity based in Maidenhead has been forced to cease operations after 46 years.

SportsAble, in Braywick Road, has said that the decision has been taken with 'great sadness'. 

Trustees added that they are 'incredibly proud' of the work the charity has done for more than four decades. 

A fundraising drive was launched at the beginning of February to save SportsAble, which was at risk of closure due to a lack of funding. 

But in an announcement today (Monday), president of the charity John Jenkins said it would be closing after the campaign 'did not achieve' what was needed. 

"The trustees are unbelievably proud of all that the charity has achieved over the last 46 years, not least the significant role the charity has played in encouraging the social changes that mean disabled people of all ages can participate in sport," Mr Jenkins said. 

"Unfortunately the [fundraising] campaign did not achieve all that the charity needed to secure its future in terms of donations, and equally importantly, offers of practical help to run the charity.

"The trustees are extremely grateful to everyone who did respond."

A registered charity, SportsAble offered disabled people the opportunity to participate in various sports, and provided social opportunities for members. 

The impact of COVID-19 has also been cited as a factor in its decision to close. 

Mr Jenkins added: "It is well known locally that the charity has been struggling with numerous problems over the last 12 months, including the investigation by the Charity Commission.

"The impact of COVID-19 cannot be ignored: on the one hand, Government grants helped to keep the charity alive through 2020, but did not prevent staff redundancies, and on the other, the almost total inability to fulfil our charitable objectives by running sports sessions or room hirings severely curtailed fundraising efforts and income generation activities.

"The fundraising environment has changed significantly over the last few years and it is clear that donors are increasingly unwilling to pay for the costs associated with running the SportsAble clubhouse which means that the charity’s biggest asset has become its biggest burden.

"Without the human resources required to run the charity and restart operations post-COVID, and the lack of a reliable income stream able to generate the funds needed, there really were no more viable options."

SportsAble's work has enabled members to advance in sport, with some reaching Paralympic levels and competing at international championships. 

"This has been a very hard and distressing decision to make and it is important to the trustees to manage the closure with as much dignity as possible; taking responsibility for paying creditors, refunding donations and restricted grants, and in the event that monies are left over, a donation will be made to another charity with similar aims to SportsAble.

"Finally, from the heart, all the SportsAble trustees both past and present would like to extend their grateful thanks and appreciation to everyone who gave the charity financial support, encouragement, appreciation, and love throughout its history.

"The trustees would like to make a special mention of all the wonderful volunteers who have contributed so much to SportsAble over the years. You all played your part – but very sadly SportsAble has run its course."

To request a refund for a donation, people are asked to email info@sportsable.co.uk  with a name, address, bank details and donation amount. 

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