Florence Nightingale Museum consults on redundancies amid closure plans

The Florence Nightingale Museum is to close for the foreseeable future and launches a consultation with staff on redundancies, following Covid-19 income losses.

The charity that runs the London based museum said the attraction will close its doors at the end of February “for the foreseeable future” even if social distancing restrictions are eased in the capital.

It will only open for one off events. Due to the pandemic “visitor numbers just do not make remaining open financially viable”.

The charity is reliant on visitors for around 95% of its income. More than half of its visitors are from overseas.

The charity, which was celebrating the bicentenary year, said that “consultation with museum staff is now beginning and, sadly, redundancies are likely, as the museum looks to reduce costs significantly”.

Its statement added that costs have been cut since the pandemic started last March, “but there are few fixed costs that remain to be cut. Therefore, a review of staff roles and costs is unfortunately, necessary.

The charity has taken advantage of the government’s furlough scheme to cover staff costs, however, this is due to end in April 2021. Even if the scheme was extended “the museum would no longer be able to make its own essential contributions to the scheme, with current staffing levels”.

As part of restructure plans the charity is looking to recruit new trustees to steer the organisation through “a new phase in the museum’s development.

Florence Nightingale Museum director David Green said: “The events of the past year have been devastating for so many. From our own perspective, to go from the furious activity and high visitor numbers of the early months of 2020, to instant desolation was a major blow.

“Since March 2020, we have explored every avenue and resource available to us, in order to keep the Museum operating. Throughout this turbulent time, we have received so much wonderful support from the Museum’s visitors, as well as all manner of arts organisations, not to mention the dedicated and tenacious work of our staff.

“Now, the need for changes to the Museum’s operation is vital to ensure that it has a future, particularly as it is extremely likely that the situation is unlikely to improve significantly for many months.”

The government is offering grants of up to £3m to charities that run heritage sites to reopen as England recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The heritage sector is among the worst affected among charities due to a drop in visitor numbers during the health crisis.

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