THE collapse of a long-standing Skipton based charity that offered support to older and disabled people across Craven has been blamed on the Covid pandemic.

Skipton and Craven Action For Disability (SCAD), which had been going for more than 40 years, closed at the end of last year and went into administration in January after its shops struggled to raise anywhere near the same amount they had before the pandemic.

Set up in 1981, the charity organised day trips and pursuits from carpet bowls to swimming. It also provided 'dial-a-ride' transport for those who struggled to access public transport to get to health appointments, shopping, and other reasons, through a fleet of five minibuses, all which were wheelchair accessible. It also had a transport contract with North Yorkshire County Council.

SCAD was funded through grants and donations and crucially - by money raised at its shops in Skipton and in Cross Hills.

A statement on its website said that all of its three remaining charity shops had closed and that its transport services were no longer operating.

It said:"The trustees of SCAD are sad to announce that from the 23rd December 2022, SCAD will no longer be able to operate. This means that all the shops are closed and transport is no longer available." Phone lines were closed over Christmas, but reopened in the new year for people to make enquiries.

The SCAD narrow boat, Endeavour, was transferred to another charity at the start of 2022, and continues to operate as Spirit of Endeavour (Yorkshire).

The charity had been running boat trips for more than 35 years, originally with The Marjorie Charlesworth and since 2003 with the purpose-built Endeavour with ramps and lifts facilities for those using wheelchairs.

The charity's community transport arm is due to be taken over on Monday, February 13 with a volunteer car scheme run by Skipton Step into Action (SSIA) - which started during the Covid pandemic - but there are already concerns it will not provide the same service for those with disabilities.

Richard Clarke, one of SCAD's four trustees, said the charity had struggled through the last two years and towards the end of 2022 it had become clear it could not continue any longer. He said the charity had approached North Yorkshire County Council for help, but none had been forthcoming.

He said: "Unfortunately, Covid happened. Since we came out of lockdown, the takings from the charity shops was down a third from pre-Covid times. We weren't taking enough to cover our costs.

"We limped on through last year but in November we knew we weren't going to get through the winter."

The charity had three charity shops, two in Skipton, in Newmarket Street and a new one at the bottom of the High Street, and also in Main Street, Cross Hills. Its original six minibuses were down to just four by the end of last year, while it employed four shop staff and five drivers.

Mr Clarke said the rising cost of fuel and a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage also contributed to the charity no longer being able to continue.

He added the trustees had tried to save the charity including merging with another organisation and had asked for help.

"We had a meeting with North Yorkshire County Council and said we were struggling and could they help us; we were trying to find a way of merging with another charity, but they said they couldn't help us.

"If there had been a little bit of effort from the council, it could have kept going, but they said they couldn't help us, at the end, we just weren't flavour of the month, and you can only do so much.

"Its really sad, I had someone ringing asking for transport and where they could get it now, and I didn't know where."

Councillor Greg White, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for stronger communities, said: “Skipton and Craven Action for Disability (SCAD) provided many services which were valued in the local community.

"We were saddened to hear that the charity would cease trading and are committed to plugging the gap for its popular Dial-a-Ride service.

"Our stronger communities and integrated passenger transport teams have worked with Skipton Step into Action (SSIA) to provide a replacement community transport service.

"The charity will launch a volunteer car scheme on Monday, February 13, which will cover the same area. We are sure that those who previously relied on the service will welcome the news.”

Skipton county and district councillor Andy Solloway, a former trustee of Skipton Step into Action, said he believed even with the input from SSIA, he believed the area would lose out.

"I think it’s a very sad thing that SCAD are no longer trading and offering that vital service of the transport for disabled people and also for patients being transported.

"My family used SCAD's transport service last year in a time of great need. I’m hoping that the new service using SSIA will be able to transport people in wheelchairs as well. I’m not sure what has happened to the fleet of accessible buses they used to have, but with there being less wheelchair accessible taxis available, even with the new volunteer service, there’s going to be a gap in the area."

Fellow Skipton councillor, Robert Heseltine, said it was an 'extremely sad situation' to see the collapse of an organisation which had worked exceptionally well over the years.

He said: "It takes some understanding that SCAD has ceased trading and all the good that it has provided over the years has ended."