Further to Scotland’s First Minister announcing that “Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts and self-catering accommodation” should not be accepting visitors; and to this evening’s much stricter guidelines announced by our Prime Minister, that all must stay at home, placing tough measures on all travel, we are now formally closing our outdoor centres until further notice.
This has been an extremely tough decision for us, as our centres also are homes for our staff teams and as a charity, our leadership team has been striving to navigate the best ways to honour our guests and teams.
While the timeline on Covid-19 and these strict measures is unknown, we are very much working towards being able to offer adventures to groups later this year.
If you have a booking between now – 23 March – and 31 May 2020, we will be contacting you this week to discuss options. We would also request, that if your booking is from 1 June 2020 onwards, you would hold off contacting us for now. That does not mean we have forgotten your booking – we will definitely be in touch, and will keep you updated on how we can best serve you.
If you are a parent of a young person coming via their school, we would be so grateful if you would allow us time to discuss with the school. We value our relationships with these groups and teachers, many who have been coming to us for many years and our intention is to find a way forward together with these group leaders.
These are unprecedented times and we will work with all our guests and groups to find the right way forward. We absolutely don’t want anyone who would have come for an adventure with us, to lose out.
We know there will be frustrations and disappointments. We are doing everything we can to be ready to re-open and to honour our guests and team members, whose homes are on our centre sites and consider their work at Abernethy to be their calling.
Thank you for your understanding and patience during this difficult season.
This afternoon, we’ve been contacted about a number of bookings that are now no longer able to go ahead. Many of the disappointed are young people who have been looking forward to a trip to Abernethy for a long time. We have been reviewing our decisions, in light of what’s been announced this evening by the government and are working to find another solution for our groups who have had to cancel their trip, due to the advice on social distancing and the closure of leisure facilities. We take this seriously and we want the best for our groups and young people. We are working on a solution and will keep you posted. We have made decisions based on what information we have had and as this changes daily, we will try to update our decisions in line with government advice.
In these unprecedented days, we have had many groups cancel. We know it is tough times for all of them – we welcome groups from many organisations, including schools. In the leadership team of our charitable Trust, we are looking for ways in which we can continue to safeguard our staff team – many of whom are young – alongside our guests who remain our priority.
As a non-profit, we do not operate with reserves in the bank, thus keeping our income and expenditure close to one another, and enabling us to keep our charges to guests as low as possible. Our aim with every school and group is to provide what we see is an important service to many communities in enabling excellent outdoor learning – a service that we believe is critical in the development and learning experience of young people.
Therefore, we, along with many other charitable bodies, are facing a sobering challenge in the months ahead. We are looking for ways right now to pay our team in the next period, as well as find ways to sustain our centres until such time that guests are able to return.
We – alongside the rest of the hospitality industry and other adventure centres – are striving to wisely respond to the cancellations we receive and, the salaries and livelihoods of over 100 people and their families.
We know that there will be some charities that won’t survive through this critical time. We understand this. Our goal in the future is to still be able to offer excellent residential adventures for all ages. We will not be able to do this without making difficult decisions each day, based on current government advice and understanding.
We continue to monitor situations and developments around Covid-19, and will keep our summer programmes under review. With the Women’s Walking Weekend scheduled for May, right through to our Summer Family Week in August, as the situation is changing rapidly, we won’t make a decision until nearer the time. We will then make necessary decisions if needed and appropriate, following regulations and guidance. Therefore, at this stage (18 March), we have not taken the decision to cancel any of our holidays but will keep registrations (and take new registrations for anyone who wants to) for now. We will keep you informed and updated!
On Tuesday 17 March, we continue to offer adventures at our four outdoor centres. The authorities have not yet asked us to close our centres due to COVID-19, but we are staying alert to any changes.
We absolutely appreciate the complex timing for our groups who have booked to come to one of our centres over the next few months and we are available to answer any questions you have.
If you have a booking with us, please do not come if you have a high temperature or a new continuous cough. The Government advice is that you should isolate yourself and stay at home for seven days.
If you are a group leader:
We are still operating with groups who are on-site, and we have not been asked to close. Our advice has always been for our guests to take out insurance, as we are unable to offer refunds to groups or individuals who decide not to come or are unable to come for whatever reason. We are available to talk through your situation and understand that you may have questions about what action to take. As we have bookings throughout the year, postponing a booking is unlikely to be possible.
If you are a parent:
We appreciate you may have concerns during this time. However, we are unable at this time to communicate with individuals who have not made the booking, but will liaise directly with the group leader. Therefore, please continue to communicate with them.
We will continue to update this information as we monitor the situation, or should any developments occur including any updates from the local authorities in this time. We continue to follow best-hygiene practices.
At Abernethy Trust we are monitoring the situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are operating under latest guidance from the Scottish Government and the NHS. At the time of writing, the risk of contracting the virus in the UK is moderate. Public places such as schools remain open. Up to date information from the Scottish Government can be found here.
We continue to consider the wellbeing of both our guests and our team on a daily basis; the health and safety of everyone is always a top priority. As such, we already have thorough systems in place for cleaning and hygiene at all of our Centres. We are introducing extra cleaning measures in line with the current best knowledge on preventing the spread of Coronavirus. We are also increasing emphasis on the importance of good hand hygiene.
At the time of writing, our Centres at Ardeonaig, Ardgour, Barcaple and Nethybridge remain open and ready to serve our guests. All group leaders arriving before Easter 2020 are being contacted. Our current cancellation policy as outlined in our booking conditions remains correct. As a small charity, regrettably we are unable to offer refunds to groups or individuals who decide not to come. At the time of booking, we do ask that all of our guests take out appropriate insurance to cover them for this type of unforeseen eventuality.
We will continue to update this information as we monitor the situation, or should any developments occur.
Mike Causey, CEO