Brent Advocacy Concern: NHS rent hike leaves disability charity facing closure

Trustee John Healy thinks the future of Brent Advocacy Concerns is bleak unless new funding can be f

Trustee John Healy thinks the future of Brent Advocacy Concerns is bleak unless new funding can be found. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

A charity that’s been operating from Willesden Health Centre for 31 years is facing closure after its NHS landlord jacked up the rent.

Disability charity Brent Advocacy Concerns works to represent disabled people with housing, social care, benefits or other issues where they need social support.

But a slow decline in funding has reached crisis point - landlord NHS Property Services (NHSPS) has told its trustees they'll have to stump up about £20,000 a year in rent and management fees if they want to keep their meagre office space as a one-year subsidy from the CCG comes to an end.

Trustee John Healy, who's worked with the charity for 26 years, told this newspaper that in all likelihood this meant the end was nigh - unless a Times reader was able to help support them.

He said: "We've been on the site for so long and now we've got a problem. We'll have to close down, or it's a case of seeing if there's any funding at all available, or anyone who can help us."

Even now, John said, searching for funding to keep its work going had become harder and harder.

He said: "Take Monday, for example. Just in the two hours between 3pm and 5pm we had six people get in touch with serious issues but we had to turn them away. That breaks my heart.

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"I hate having to do it."

John also spoke about how, in times gone by, he would have been able to help David Strong - the man the Kilburn Times revealed last week had been asked to live on £4 a week - but his organisation's resources had shrunk so much this just wasn't possible any more.

John also called on the council to do more to help charities such as BAC. He said: "What are they going to do to replace the service that'll be lost when we go? We haven't had any funding since 2012. There's not many people you'll find to do what we do with no money."

A council spokesperson said that as it did not fund the charity it could not comment.

An NHSPS spokeperson said: "Until now BAC have been fully subsidised by NHS Brent Clinical Commissioning Group.

"NHSPS is committed to working with all parties to provide an affordable plan to occupy vacant space on the NHS estate."