A LIFELINE has been handed to a charity that helps around 2,000 young people a year with entering the world of work.

Basingstoke Consortium was set to close its operations from December this year due to concerns over funding, but now it is in the process of a merger to allow its work to continue.

The consortium is in the process of undertaking a merger with fellow education business partnership EBP South which should be complete by Christmas, pending final due diligence.

For nearly 30 years, the consortium has provided opportunities for young people to experience employment by partnering with businesses and schools.

Mike Rushworth, chairman of Basingstoke Consortium trustees, said: "We are delighted to announce this merger agreement. EBP South is a well-respected charity carrying out very similar work to Basingstoke Consortium, preparing and inspiring young people for the world of work. The merger will enable both charities to thrive and to develop this important work with schools and businesses across Hampshire.”

Cath Longhurst, chief executive officer of EBP South said: “This merger will bring two already closely associated charities together, enabling us to be more cost-effective and bringing together the expertise and strengths from both.

“With current economic changes, it is more important than ever that young people at school have opportunities to experience the world of work and to find out about the ever changing career opportunities.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Basingstoke schools and businesses and other important partners and hope to reassure them all that it is business as usual."

The planned merger will mean that all the work carried out by Basingstoke Consortium, covering work experience, careers guidance, employer volunteering and support to local schools will continue.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s cabinet member for communities and community safety Councillor Simon Bound said: “It is such good news that a positive way forward has been found to continue the vital work that Basingstoke Consortium does to benefit our young people. This merger opens up exciting new opportunities for the future to grow and coordinate services connecting education and business, building on shared values and years of experience.”