Wednesday August 5, 2020: St John Ambulance has today announced significant cost-saving measures, including building closures to secure the charity’s future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen St John undertake its largest mobilisation of volunteers in peacetime, transforming its whole organisation to support the immediate needs of the NHS and communities.

Since the start of the crisis, the charity’s volunteers have given over 160,000 hours of their time to care for patients, delivering this vital activity whilst grappling with the consequences of its main income streams – first aid training and event cover – being halted by the nationwide lockdown.

Despite an injection of Government cash, funding from the NHS, significant fundraising, a programme of redundancies and other efforts to save money, St John Ambulance faces a financial deficit of £20 million.

This significant financial challenge has led the charity’s leaders and trustees to announce the closure of 117 of the 352 buildings St John currently owns or leases with immediate effect. While this represents the majority of properties that will close, a further review will be carried out in the autumn.

St John Ambulance’s chief executive, Martin Houghton-Brown says:

“We have not taken this decision lightly – we know our buildings represent more than just a physical presence in communities.

“However, we have a duty to continue serving these communities by responding to their health needs and it is with regret that we have to reduce our estate to shore up the charity’s future.

“As part of this process, I will be exploring, with St John people, how we evolve to still meet and serve communities. Whether that’s using technology to better connect with people or finding partners in the community who would welcome St John, we will find new ways to continue our life saving work now, and for many years to come.”

St John is aiming to retain and improve buildings from which it can deliver the most positive impact in communities, through its volunteers and training activities.

Many groups already meet in hired premises and, during lockdown, the teams have been holding meetings online. In fact, the charity plans to use technology more to help grow its volunteer numbers and expand its units, to ensure it is ready and stronger for the future.