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Belfast childcare business shutting with loss of 45 jobs

Keys Group's Belfast base will be shut as early as February next year.
Keys Group's Belfast base will be shut as early as February next year.

By John Mulgrew

A Belfast childcare business has been dealt a "massive blow" after being told it will shut its doors with the loss of almost 50 jobs, it can be revealed.

Keys Group, which is based in south Belfast, is a Northern Ireland company which provides services for childcare, based primarily elsewhere in the UK, and outside the province.

But it's understood that following a takeover by new owners, private equity firm G Square, its Belfast base will be shut as early as February next year.

It's also understood some senior staff in Belfast have already been let go.

It's believed that management from the company flew in from England this week to break the news to the Northern Ireland workers.

Keys Group employs around 45 staff in Belfast.

One worker said the news was a "massive blow" to the company, and to staff.

"We have been told that the office will close in or around February.

"Our head office has been based in Belfast for the last 14 years," they said.

A spokesman for the Keys Group said: "It is with great regret that we have had to make this announcement.

"The young people we care for are our highest priority and this decision was made in their best interests

"The operational needs of our organisation make it necessary to move the support centre closer to the homes and services we operate.

"Our homes and services are predominantly based in England and Wales, with one home in the Republic of Ireland and three in Scotland.

"We are committed to an open and transparent transition process, and made this announcement as early as possible to allow people to plan for the future.

"There will be the opportunity for our Belfast colleagues to apply to relocate."

Keys Group says it is "established as the largest and most innovative care and education provider for children and young people in the UK and Ireland... (and) incorporates several integrated specialist divisions offering excellent services and care".

"Collectively, Keys' passion and focus is dedicated to delivering positive outcomes in line with the 'Every Child Matters' framework to empower all young people to develop effective life skills and make appropriate changes to achieve a real difference."

On its website, the company, says that "at the very heart of Keys is a caring philosophy, a genuine commitment to making a real difference for young lives".

"As an established and strong care-focused business recognised for its experience and excellent reputation in the sector, Keys strive to provide strategies, support and solutions to some of the most difficult challenges involving young people

"Working closely with local authorities and professional bodies Keys aim is to ensure that each and every young person is placed in an environment that suits their individual needs."

Belfast Telegraph