URDD Gobaith Cymru is facing what its chief executive has described as ‘the most challenging period in its 98-year history’ with job cuts on the cards.

The Urdd, Wales’ largest youth organisation, has centres at Llangrannog in Ceredigion and Pentre Ifan in north Pembrokeshire which offer a range of courses, activities and residential trips for families and young people.

Both are currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis and the Urdd has revealed it is facing a reduction in income of £14million over the next two years.

This will include a remodelling of its services and job cuts.

At a meeting held today (Wednesday, July 15), staff were told that Urdd had to adapt all its services in order to plan its future provision for members and to safeguard the long-term future for the organisation.

Up to 80 jobs are under threat along with 70 casual worker, out of a workforce of 320.

Most Urdd staff are already on the furlough scheme which comes to an end in October. The Urdd’s staffing costs amount to £6million a year and even after making cuts, the organisation faces significant financial losses over the next two years.

The impact of Covid19 has been devastating for the Urdd.

Urdd services were closed on 20 March which included closing all three residential centres, suspending sports and community activities as well as postponing the Urdd Eisteddfod.

With the centres remaining closed to residential courses and a reduction in income of £500,000 per month, the financial forecast for the next 18 months indicates losses of more than £3.4million.

Sian Lewis, chief executive, said: “Today is a sad day for this unique organisation which is an integral part of the lives of so many people in Wales. The impact of the pandemic has been devastating for every department within the Urdd.

“There is no option but to review costs across the organisation and see how we can continue to offer some services within the safety guidelines, with the primary objective of safeguarding the future of the Urdd.

“The situation is concerning and worrying for our workforce and our main concern in the coming weeks will be their wellbeing. Discussions are ongoing within each department to see how the cuts will affect staff and the future services of those departments. It must be emphasised that the cuts are in no way a reflection of the standard of work or dedication of staff – it is a situation that has arisen entirely due to factors beyond our control, Covid-19.

“We have looked at every possible source of funding to safeguard as much of the workforce as possible.

“The Urdd has always strived to generate its own income and not be too dependent on public funding and has successfully developed a strong business model. Last year, our turnover was over £10m with only 19 per cent coming from the public purse.

“Now with our centres closed to residential courses, no income from our community and sports work, the situation has and will continue to put a huge financial strain on the Urdd. No organisation could survive such a situation without making cuts and unfortunately that is what the Urdd is facing.

“We have received a support package totalling £3.1milion from the Welsh Government. This support is invaluable and will enable us to maintain a framework of core staff to maintain a service base across all our platforms and allow us to continue with and complete our construction projects.”

Dyfrig Davies, Chairman of the Urdd, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we share the news about the Urdd’s situation. Clearly, preserving the workforce and safeguarding the Urdd has been foremost in our minds for nearly four months now. The future is uncertain, but we must plan to ensure the future and longevity of the Urdd and our membership.

“Over the summer and from September, we will be working in new ways to ensure that our services reach across all age categories, offering digital sports and arts activities, outdoor and youth opportunities as well as continuing with our apprenticeship schemes.

“We will be cautiously opening our residential centres within health and safety regulations and look forward to welcoming back the youth of Wales.”