Case Study Types Archives: Charities

Pecket Learning Community

Pecket Steering GroupPecket is a user led voluntary organisation.  We are a charity and company limited by guarantee run by and for people who have difficulties with reading, writing an/or numbers.  Our constitution states that the majority of directors must have these difficulties themselves.  Other directors are academics and educationalists (paid or unpaid) who are committed to promoting best practice in education, addressing inequalities in literacy/numeracy and increasing awareness of the impact on lives e.g. social/financial /health. (We were previously known as ‘Pecket Well College’).  All information is read aloud and discussed at meetings to make sure every Director can make informed decisions.  This means we work hard to provide information in different formats as and when needed.

Problem/issue:

Some Directors find traditional table format difficult to understand.   Some need text in large print and/or reports printed on different colour background paper.   We wanted to find better ways of presenting our financial reports so that everybody understands them.

Support provided:

Helen from WYCAS has helped us to produce financial reports in graph format.  We followed good practice guidelines in the use of bar charts and produced a variety of layouts using various bars/columns.  Our treasurer Malcolm has a visual impairment and found the column charts difficult to scan visually.   Some other Directors asked for us to show exact amounts of each item of income or expenditure – rather than them having to calculate it along the side or bottom of the graph.   He needs a horizontal bar chart with text next to each line stating what the income or expenditure item is.  This was tricky but Helen (with help from WYCAS colleagues) persevered and together we have come up with an alternative format that people understand.

Solution/Outcome:

This took some time but we now have an alternative layout.  This means all Directors are now involved in financial matters and can make informed decisions. You can see a brief video of the discussions with WYCAS about the final tweaking to the reports here.

“Working with WYCAS is good because they try hard to understand how we work.  We call it the ‘Pecket Way’ – we work hard to show financial information in different ways and make sure everybody understands every penny coming in and going out.” –  Malcolm Burnside (Joint Treasurer)

“A lot of people here and in other organisations say yes and don’t admit they can’t understand finance reports.  I’ve been involved in an organisation that got its fingers burnt because we didn’t all understand the financial information.  Helen from WYCAS works with our coordinator and Treasurers to make all information accessible which is vital to the smooth running of our organisation.” – Nick Pollard (Chairperson)

The work between WYCAS and Pecket has helped influence the development of our ‘Reporting financial and other management information effectively’ Good Practice Guide.

You can find out more about Pecket at their website which includes their oral history and on-going archives.

Friend to Friend

Friend to Friend Friend to Friend is a registered charity in rural South Kirklees, West Yorkshire. Our aim is to work with older people to enable them to improve their quality of life, combat loneliness and reduce isolation. We do this by providing a range of stimulating activities in accessible local venues. This includes Armchair Exercise, ‘Mobility Aid Friendly’ Walking Groups, Lunches, a Men’s Group, Activity Groups and Monthly Get-Togethers. All our members receive a regular newsletter.

Many older people can feel isolated for a variety of reasons; their families have moved away, they may have suffered bereavement, or they are new to the area (moving to be nearer family but leaving behind old friends). For whatever reason Friend to Friend exists to provide much needed companionship, activities to stimulate the mind and exercise groups to stay active. The majority of our members are over 70 years of age, with a range of needs. Everyone is treated as an individual.

Our groups are open to older people who live within our various catchment areas, door to door transport is arranged where possible for those members that need it.

WYCAS has worked with Friend to Friend since 2005. WYCAS has supported the group at various times with advice on a variety of subjects and with an infill bookkeeping service during a period of 8 months when Friend to Friend didn’t have an administrator, then training and supporting the new administrator on the accounting software. Individual training sessions are provided as often as necessary and free of charge at Friend to Friends premises. Every year WYCAS prepare and Independently Examine the annual accounts of Friend to Friend and are currently also offering support with formatting reports from the accounting system to provide the board of trustees with management information in the best format for them.

The Friend to Friend Trustee Board receive an excellent service from WYCAS as our accountants. We have had an opportunity to develop a close working relationship with the involvement of WYCAS staff advising our Finance Sub-group and have been helped to establish more robust financial management systems. We have appreciated the training and support given to our administrator when taking on the role as book-keeper for the charity. We are a small charity and the impact of the help given has been an increase in confidence, underpinned by the knowledge that we can ask any questions, no matter how seemingly simple or stupid.

Rachel, the Friend to Friend Administrator, has summed up our good working relationship with WYCAS.  She writes

I have found both Lis and Alison’s support to be invaluable whilst I have been learning Friend to Friend’s accounting system and processes. There is still plenty for me to learn and I am sure that Lis and WYCAS will continue to offer excellent support and advice.’

Well Women Centre

Well Women CentreWell Women Centre is a charity and company limited by guarantee that has been offering services in Wakefield District for nearly 30 years.  We have 17 staff and approximately 60 volunteers.  Our services include counselling, groups, courses, complementary therapies and drop ins.  We also have projects working with women offenders and younger women at risk of sexual exploitation.  We work in the area of general mental health issues, but have particular expertise with women with a history of sexual abuse, domestic abuse and disordered eating.

Over the last 10 years or so, WYCAS has been around in the background, helping us with training and support as needed, for example when we moved to using the QuickBooks financial system, or when training up new members of staff.  In 2011, when our contracts were reduced significantly as a result of the recession, we had to make a lot of changes to the way we worked.  We had conversations with WYCAS about how they might save us time and money by outsourcing our book keeping and management accounting.  We agreed a pilot arrangement whereby WYCAS came in once a month to update QuickBooks and generate management accounts for our trustees.  We also requested that they take over doing our end of year accounts as they were able to offer a competitive quote.

After the pilot was completed, we felt completely confident to continue with these arrangements.  We have confidence that our finances are being rigorously kept up to date, and we welcome the challenge that comes from an external professional coming into our organisation and asking questions about things that we might not necessarily notice.  Our trustees feel reassured that our financial position is robust and that any variations or issues will be brought to their attention in good time and either with explanations or with suggestions for solutions.  WYCAS staff are always lovely too, and very patient and helpful.

Rosalie Ryrie Foundation

The building used to house Wakefield’s St John’s Ambulance, but then became a derelict hangout for street drinkers and drug users. Ann Ramsden saw it at its worst, but somehow spotted its potential. It’s now a bright and cheerful space, full of couches and cushions ready to welcome clients to the Rosalie Ryrie Foundation.

Named after Ann’s mum the Foundation exists to help people affected by domestic violence to change their behaviour. The building is now called Footsteps because for most people walking through the door is the beginning of an important and often difficult journey.

Different windows
“Although we work with victims, perpetrators and children the journey taken boils down to the same thing. A lot of these people have been abused themselves as children so the journey’s about building their self-esteem up, getting them to look through different windows and realise they’ve got a choice about which one they look through,” explains Ann. “We take them through their life experiences, what their beliefs are, why they think it’s ok and challenge them.”

The Foundation works to change behaviours by teaching people alternative ways of reacting. Its existence is the product of Ann’s determined graft. Whilst working in residential care she saw how children who’d left situations of domestic violence were starting to use controlling behaviours themselves when they became teenagers. As she explains, “I couldn’t access any help for them so I thought ‘right, I’ll do it myself’”. And she has. In just three years the Foundation has had over 600 referrals and now runs sessions for groups, individuals, families and couples on four days a week.

Support from WYCAS
Ann saw her mum trapped by domestic violence. She doesn’t want anyone else to suffer what she witnessed. The Foundation is testament to her determination, which is fuelled by her experience. “I didn’t know anything about voluntary organisations or funding or having to spend everything exactly how you’re supposed to spend it,” she outlines. “I was always employed so it was all new to me.” After launching herself in at the deep end she called on Julie Haley, the WYCAS Community Accountant for Wakefield who was able to offer her one to one support and training.

“Julie’s support was tailored to us, it was brilliant. If I’d been in a group I wouldn’t have dared ask anything. And because it’s tailored to us I don’t have to cover stuff I don’t need to know about, like VAT or anything like that.”

The Foundation has just secured four years of vital funding from a charity. According to Ann, “That’s due to WYCAS teaching us what we’re meant to do with it!” And it’s not going to stop there, on top of bookkeeping and good financial systems Ann knows she will need Julie’s support to enter the world of commissioned services. “We want to be self-sustaining, so I am going to have to know about VAT after all, and wages and a whole lot more.”

Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme

Cross Gates & District Good Neighbour Scheme

A grand day out!

Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme is one of 37 Neighbourhood Network Schemes working with and for older people in Leeds and is a registered charity.  It has a contract with Leeds City Council to work with and for older people in the LS15 area to reduce isolation, support independence and promote well-being and involvement in the community.  It has three full time staff and a team of fifty volunteers working to these aims via home visits and group opportunities.  These range from the purely social like its twice weekly Drop-In coffee morning, through exercise based groups to creative and educational opportunities like painting and drawing and computer lessons.

Its volunteer team currently provide 220 hours per week, (equivalent to over £100,000 per year, costed at £10 an hour) bringing significant extra value to the funding it receives from Leeds City Council and others. One of the workers is currently funded by the Big Lottery. Mindful of sustainability it sources additional funding from grants and by fundraising with its service users.

WYCAS have played an important part in its development over the last seven years, with staff and key volunteers attending training on budgeting and cashflow and QuickBooks.  This has enabled its treasurer to move from manual accounting to working confidently on QuickBooks, which in turn has allowed it to report back more efficiently to its trustees and funders and to budget more effectively.  The best part about this support has been that it has been available on a one-to-one basis and tailored to its needs at the time as well as free! Its treasurer, Irene Midgley was sceptical at first about her ability to learn but has this to say:

“I joined Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours’ Scheme as a volunteer, over ten years ago, when I first retired. I have enjoyed every minute, being kept busy and meeting a lot of very nice people, who perhaps need a little help from time to time, but generally just need the companionship of others and a little friendly banter.

“I soon joined the committee and found they needed someone to look after the funds we collected daily. So I volunteered, with no experience of bookkeeping, but soon got into entering the simple ins and outs in a ledger.   As we have progressed as an organisation, we have had to adapt to a more sophisticated system.  Initially the idea of using the QuickBooks system was very daunting, and I thought, at my age it would be quite impossible to do. The WYCAS team were very helpful and patient and eventually the penny dropped.  I now feel confident to key in and subtract relevant information needed for our monthly meetings.

“The WYCAS team are invaluable to me and I feel positive that I can continue doing the treasurer’s role because WYCAS are only a telephone call away when I have any problems that I can’t solve.   I would recommend any small business or organisation to tap in to their expertise and training programmes.”

Evidence of the impact of WYCAS’s support is the good track record Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours’ has in terms of their funding successes, with several organisations offering repeat funding.  It sees this as a vote of confidence in its work and money management. Now thanks to WYCAS’ support it has surpassed the income level for free help from WYCAS but will be continuing to use the paid-for service as it has been such good value.

White Ribbon Campaign

White Ribbon LogoThe White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men’s violence against women. It relies on volunteer support and financial contributions from individuals and organizations.

Although we had been running as a company for 3 years our accounts were very basic.  We approached WYCAS to get involved for several reasons; we had just registered as a charity; our bookkeeping was elementary; and the initial visits would be free!  As we had no computerised system we needed guidance on how to establish a new system, and our new administrator, who had no bookkeeping experience, needed training.

WYCAS support has been invaluable, providing us with relevant training courses, one to one support to enable us to develop our financial records, and telephone support.

The Charity Trustees now receive regular accurate financial reports upon which they can base decisions on how best to expand the work of the organisation.  Also, over the period of support from WYCAS White Ribbon Campaign has doubled in size and tripled its activity base, and this expansion has only been possible because we are reassured that the organisation now has a sustainable viable future.

Hale

Hale award acceptance

Nasreen Ali and Natasha Thomas receiving the IMPACT award

Bradford’s HALE Project beat over 350 charities from across the UK to take the prize as overall winner of the GSK Impact Awards 2010. This prestigious title is awarded by healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline and influential think tank The King’s Fund.
HALE stands for Health Action Local Engagement. The Shipley-based team of 19 part time staff were singled out for their innovative way of working with local people to tackle health problems such as obesity, poor mental health and sexual health issues.

“Young people probably know us as The Chlamydia Ladies” laughs project manager Natasha Thomas when asked how her team are seen. “People know us as a project that’s a bit different, we like to address health in a fun way.”

With salsa and belly dancing exercise sessions on offer this is clearly true, but the GSK Impact Award only goes to projects that have done outstanding work according to the highest possible standards. The judges were particularly impressed by the way the project empowers the groups it works with to become self-sufficient.

HALE registered as an independent charity in 2007. It had existed before that as a Big Lottery funded Healthy Living Project within the local NHS Primary Care Trust, but the funding came to an end and a new organisation was born.

“Neither Nasreen Ali, my co-worker, or I had much financial knowledge or understanding at the beginning,” outlines Natasha. “We were putting in bids for significant amounts of money, so it felt quite daunting, but that’s when WYCAS came along. Their help and advice enabled us both to understand how we needed to organise our finances to be able to progress.”

Dave Collins, the WYCAS Community Accountant for Bradford, initially visited the group every two months and now provides ongoing training and support to Nasreen, who keeps an eye on the finances. HALE has six or seven different funders and it’s not unusual for one worker to be funded from several different pots. Keeping on top of the funding streams, ensuring that targets are met, results are fed back and there’s no doubling up is just one of the financial challenges of running this project.

The team are also full of praise for WYCAS’s Full Cost Recovery training course. Understanding how to divide core costs between projects has helped them to feel more in control as they plan future bids and commission tenders. According to Nasreen , “What had seemed daunting at the beginning has soon become second nature.”

“The GSK Impact Award was a reflection of our financial state of health, skills and efficiencies as much as our other achievements”, concludes Natasha.

(Photo: Nasreen Ali and Natasha Thomas receiving the IMPACT award)

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Stringer House, 34 Lupton Street, Hunslet, Leeds, LS10 2QW | Charity Number 1076962 | Company number 3721361