Charity cancels hundreds of holiday bookings

An activity centre and charity supporting outdoor education on Exmoor is facing more turmoil due to lack of staff and applications – which has forced hundreds of bookings to be cancelled.

Calvert Trust Exmoor, based at Wistlandpound Reservoir in North Devon, reports it will lose a further £200,000 in 2021 due to a lack of staff and applicants for jobs, on top of the £1 million already lost in revenue since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The venue is an outdoor activity centre and charity that enables people with physical, learning, sensory and behavioural disabilities to achieve their potential through accessible activities.

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However, recent staff shortages in every department has meant they cannot run at full capacity, meaning that guests numbers have been capped and subsequently some breaks have been cancelled.

Calvert Trust Exmoor has advertised many jobs across all departments, including seasonal and permanent vacancies, but positions are not being filled as suitable applications are not being received.

The lack of applicants matches the UK wide trend currently affecting the job market.

Centre director Andrew Laming said: “It’s been reported elsewhere that the hospitality industry is struggling to recruit and there is a national shortage of workers.

“Recently the issue has hit us hard at Calvert Trust Exmoor which places us in a very unpleasant situation.



“Key members of staff have left the centre since the pandemic began and, whilst we have recruited some new people, many vacant roles are still not being filled despite our best efforts.

“The ‘pingdemic’ is also having a big impact on staff numbers as many are self-isolating.

“With limited staff, we can only welcome a limited number of guests. It’s devastating to tell individuals that their bookings have to be moved or cancelled, but we see no other choice.

“We have the difficult and emotional task of calling hundreds of guests that are really looking forward to a fully catered holiday and having to tell them that it has to be cancelled.

“Guest numbers are currently limited to 36 instead of the 60 we would usually accommodate, but unless we find a suitably qualified chef in the next few weeks, the operation may have to be reduced even further to less than a seven-days a week.

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Charity cancels hundreds of holiday bookings

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“The nature of the service we offer means that some of our key roles require very specific qualifications and experience which makes the exercise of recruiting even more difficult.

“Assuming we can recruit the required staff members, from senior activity instructors and senior chefs to admin and fundraising, we hope to be back up to full guest capacity in time for next season.

“In the meantime, we would ask our guests and the public to please accept our sincere apologies and to bear with us.

“I would like to personally thank everyone for their ongoing understanding and patience.

“All of this is on top of the financial crisis that was faced last year due to the lost revenue, the effects of which are still be felt today.”

Anyone wishing to apply for a job should visit this website: www.calvertexmoor.org.uk/careers

The centre is also celebrating its 25th year and has launched a fundraising birthday appeal, aiming to raise £250,000 in 2021 through donations and fundraising to help counter the financial deficits.

Details about how to support the charity are also available on the Calvert Trust Exmoor website.

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