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Barnardos forced to cut reading help in schools

BARNARDOS will cut a vital literacy programme for disadvantaged children in a bid to keep the organisation afloat, the Herald can reveal.

Barnardos has decided not to look for further funding for the programme, which currently teaches 80 primary school children to read in 10 schools in Dublin and Limerick.

Senior management at the charity have confirmed that they are pulling the plug on the programme, which would cost up to €200,000 in 2013, in order to safeguard the core services at its 40 Barnardos centres.

The organisation had been receiving time-limited funding from one of its voluntary partners, but this is due to end on December 31.

Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardos, has described the decision to bring the service to an end as "tragic".

"The gravity of the financial situation Barnardos now finds itself in means that we are having to make some very tough decisions," he said.

"One of those is that Barnardos will not be in a position to fund the ongoing delivery of our school literacy programme."

The news follows the announcement this month of a voluntary redundancy scheme for all Barnardos employees in order to cut up to €800,000 from its budget.

Last August, the charity closed its offices and services for a week of unpaid leave in an another attempt to cut costs.

The charity has blamed its woes on a cut in State funding and a decline in donations.

"We always knew that we would need to find a way to fill the funding gap. Sadly we haven't been able to. The economic climate Barnardos and others across our sector now find ourselves in has severely diminished our capacity to fundraise.

"Our focus must now be on moving to a more secure financial footing so we can carry on our core services for the children and families who need us most," Mr Finlay added.