Charity facing £25,000 annual bill to stay in Southend after losing home of six years

·2-min read
Search for a new home - TJCUK founder Digby Fairweather at the Beecroft
Search for a new home - TJCUK founder Digby Fairweather at the Beecroft

A JAZZ charity needs to find £25,000 a year after losing its rent-free home of over six years.

Digby Fairweather, founder of The Jazz Centre UK (TJCUK), says the charity faces potentially having to leave the city if it cannot secure grant funding for a new home in Southend.

The charity has operated from the lower ground of the Beecroft Gallery, free of charge thanks to Southend Council, since 2016.

However, charity bosses fear the worst after they were told to find a new home within 12 months.

“Although the council has patted us on the back and wished us well, they have in no way offered us the kind of financial support we may need,” Mr Fairweather said.

“It would be a tragedy for us to go under and hope the council can work with us to find grant funding.”

Southend Council says it cannot continue to fund the charity’s rent as it has to prioritise frontline services for residents.

Mr Fairweather says TJCUK has held preliminary talks to rent a flood of The Ironworks, the new High Street cultural hub being delivered by the council and Kiwi Community Events.

“It’s a wonderful project, and a fantastic building, but we would need £25,000 a year to occupy a floor,” explained Mr Fairweather.

“At the moment, I don’t foresee us having that kind of money.”

Councillor Carole Mulroney, responsible for environment, culture and tourism, said: “Despite the unprecedented financial situation and budget pressures we and many other local authorities have faced over the last decade, we have been able to financially support TJCUK through a rent-free space for over six years now.

“Unfortunately, we can no longer realistically sustain this.”

She added: “Despite strong financial management, our budget for local services has been under severe pressure for over a decade now, with reduced central Government funding combined with increased demand for services which are costing more than ever to provide.

“More vulnerable residents are relying on us for essential support, and now the rising cost of living and record-high inflation means our costs are also rising significantly, adding to our own bills and budget gap as a council.”

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