In a statement, they said: “The education and life-skills charity, the Whitehawk Inn, will be joining Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) in a move designed to consolidate the positions of both organisations as leading providers of specialist services to the communities within which they work.
“The Whitehawk Inn provides community-led services in east Brighton, providing information and advice about learning and work, as well as a range of support activities for adults.
“For those who are looking to go back to work it offers careers advice, employment support and a range of tailored resources.
“BHT works, on the whole, in Brighton and Hove, with other services in Eastbourne and Hastings, as well as elsewhere in Sussex.
“It sees its role as being to both challenge the causes of homelessness, poverty and marginalisation, and to deal with the consequences.
“The two charities have been in discussions regarding the merger for six months and have undertaken a full due diligence exercise.
“The Whitehawk Inn will retain its name and current management team and staff. BHT will provide ‘back office’ and strategic support.”
Jon Downing, who chairs the Whitehawk Inn board, said: “We are excited by this merger. It consolidates our position in a very uncertain economic environment by benefiting from BHT’s size and reach.
“Our priority has always been to safeguard the services we offer to the people of Brighton, especially those living in Whitehawk. BHT clearly appreciates and values our history, culture and identity.
“Those using our services should see very little change in the short term but, looking forward, we hope to see an expansion in what we can offer them.”
Joan Mortimer, who chairs the BHT board, said: “We are delighted that the trustees have chosen BHT to take the Whitehawk Inn to the next stage of its evolution.
“For many years we have greatly admired the range and quality of the work undertaken by the Whitehawk Inn and, as the two organisations grew closer, the merger became an increasingly obvious and beneficial option for both.
“Having the Whitehawk Inn as part of the range of services offered by BHT will do nothing but strengthen what we can offer the clients of both organisations and, with it, BHT’s reputation.”
BHT chief executive Andy Winter paid tribute to Frances Duncan, the former chief executive of the Whitehawk Inn. She stood down in December to pursue new opportunities but continued in an advisory role to see through the merger.
Mr Winter said: “Frances is one of the most admired and respected leaders in Brighton and Hove.
“Under her guidance, the Whitehawk Inn has gone from strength to strength, building its reputation and focusing on providing excellent and effective services to those who use its services.
“It is a comfort to me to know that Frances will be at the end of the phone to offer me advice and guidance as BHT takes on the responsibility for the organisation she has nurtured for the last 15 years.”
Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “This is good news for Whitehawk residents and a great development for both BHT and the Whitehawk Inn.
“The future of services in the city is one of partnerships and with two trusted and valuable organisations like this working together there is new hope for residents who badly need their services.”
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