On Friday 3 August 2012, Gillian Sayburn, Andrew Haslam and Simon Lundy of Begbies Traynor in Newcastle upon Tyne were appointed as joint administrators of Tyne and Wear-based organisation, Bridge Training and Education Opportunities for Women.
Set up in 1985 by a small group of women in Washington, the ‘Bridge Organisation’ provided education and training for local women, which was supported by the provision of free quality childcare to enable them to gain confidence leading to qualifications. Since incorporation, the voluntary organisation which is also a registered charity, has trained thousands of local women, running a wide range of vocational and non-vocational courses including confidence building and IT as well as providing crucial health and support initiatives and volunteering opportunities. With three centres in the Sunderland districts of Columbia, Sulgrave and Albany along with an additional centre in Durham, it employed 110 staff.
Gillian Sayburn, insolvency director at Begbies Traynor, commented: "It is very sad to see an organisation which has played such a key role in the local community over the last 26 years having to close. Bridge established and maintained a link between local women, regardless of age, ethnic background, disability or financial situation, providing access to training which may not have been available elsewhere. The business has won a succession of accolades and awards and the staff, many of whom are volunteers, have worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for local women.”
As a not for profit organisation, Bridge relied on fund raising, grants and charitable donations to operate. Ms Sayburn added: “Due to the changes and restrictions in central funding within education, the number of students has been steadily dropping over the course of the last year. In addition, Bridge has encountered problems itself with funding due to the general economic climate, leading to dwindling reserves. With no prospect of a positive change in future funding policy on the horizon, the Board has taken the view that losses will continue to be accrued. As the majority of staff have been with Bridge for many years, it was not possible to reduce the workforce as redundancy costs were prohibitive, leaving the Board with no alternative other than to investigate insolvency options.
“Whilst it will be a huge blow for the local community, it is hoped that by entering administration, negotiations can be held with various stakeholders in an attempt to rescue, if only in part, some of the business. However, the goodwill of a number of parties will be required to reach such a position. In the meantime, with no significant funds expected in the short term, the Board and administrators had no alternative other than to take the difficult decision to dismiss the majority of the workforce with immediate effect.”
Sheila Davidson, chief executive of the Bridge Organisation, said: “Over the last 26 years, Bridge has worked with tens of thousands of local women in Sunderland and Durham providing vital learning opportunities, health and support services and volunteering initiatives. It is with much regret and sadness that the business is now in administration. We offer our sincere thanks to all of the funders, partners, colleagues and friends of Bridge who have supported the organization over the years.”
A Chartered Certified Accountant and Licensed Insolvency Practitioner, Gillian has been involved in business rescue recovery and insolvency since 1999. She began her career with KPMG before joining Begbies Traynor’s head office in Manchester, moving to the Begbies Traynor Nottingham office in 2004 before returning to her native northeast to join the newly opened Newcastle office at the end of 2008.
Gillian was involved in the opening of a further northeast office in Teesside in 2010 and now spends her time between the two offices.
She is also an ACCA Northern Counties Panel member.