Oblong Ltd Directors' Report and Unaudited Accounts


Our year end is the 31st March and our latest signed accounts, which have been approved by our independent examiner are available here.

If you have any further question please contact me on adam(at)oblong(dot)org(dot)uk.

Legal and Administrative Information



  • Sian Greenley (Chair)
  • Karen Friend
  • Peter Tatham
  • Mark Ford
  • Michael Su
  • Liam Hemingway (appointed 18 April 2016)
  • Fran Coard (appointed 19 April 2016)



Christopher Lightfoot

Charity number 1120379


Company number 03147855


Registered office

Woodhouse Community Centre

197 Woodhouse Street


West Yorkshire



Independent Examiner

Stuart B Lodge FCA

Stuart B Lodge & Co

Chartered Accountants

44 Bradford Road



West Yorkshire

BD10 9PE



Triodos Bank 

Deanery Road




Directors' Report for the year ended 31 March 2016

Directors' Report for the year ended 31 March 2016

The directors present their report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2015.


The accounts have been prepared in accordance with the accounting policies set out in note 1 to the accounts and comply with the charities constitution and Memorandum & Articles of Association, the Companies Act 2006, Charities Act 2011.


Structure, governance and management

The organisation is a charitable company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 18th January 1996. The charity was established under a Memorandum of Association which established the objects and powers of the charity and is governed under its Articles of Association. In the event of the charity being wound up members are required to contribute an amount not exceeding £1. The objects and articles were amended and lodged at Companies House in August 2011.


Recruitment and appointment of trustees

New trustees are interviewed by two current board members for suitability.


The trustees of the charity are also directors for the purpose of company law. Under the requirements of the Memorandum and Articles of Association the trustees are elected to serve until the annual general meeting and stand for re-election.


The trustees have the power to co-opt additional trustees and no more than 12 in total.


New trustees are invited and encouraged to attend a series of meetings and short training sessions to familiarise themselves with the charity and the context within which it operates.


Trustee induction and training

All new trustees receive a prepared trustee induction pack which includes the following Oblong information:

● Induction document

● Memorandum and articles of association

● Minutes of the last three board meetings

● Last three years annual accounts

● Staffing structure chart

● Board contact details

● Last three newsletters

● Last annual review

● Other relevant publicity materials

● Copies of relevant policies

● Copy of 'The Essential Trustee' from the Charity commission 




All trustees are encouraged to meet with at least one member of the existing board of trustees and/or a staff member to look at the responsibilities and time commitments for trustees.


The directors who served during the year were:-


Sian Greenley (Chair)

Peter Tatham

Colin Peter Fairhurst (resigned 26 November 2015)

Karen Friend 

Mark Ford 

Michael Su (appointed 26 November 2015)


Related parties

Oblong Ltd supports a number of community groups and these are referred to as “member projects”.


Organisation structure

Oblong is managed by a voluntary trustee board, which meets quarterly, and which makes all major policy and strategic decisions. Oblong is managed by a team of eight part time staff and volunteers. 


Oblong is non-hierarchical, the staff team manage each other and are responsible to the board for managing the organisations daily activity.


Oblong uses several collectives which encompass the operational running to deliver its objectives that include but are not restricted to:


● Reception and bookings collective

● ICT and maintenance collective

● Development collective 

● Marketing collective

● Gardening collective

● Mental Wellbeing collective

● Finance collective

● HR collective


Risk management

The trustees have conducted a review of all risks to which Oblong is exposed and are confident systems are in place to mitigate these risks. 


There are procedures in place to ensure that the quality of provision is maintained, the procedures are reviewed regularly, along with ensuring that staff regularly receive training to update skills and knowledge.


A risk register has been established and is updated annually. Where appropriate systems or procedures have been established to mitigate risks the charity faces. Significant external risks to funding have led to the development of a strategic plan which will allow for the diversification of funding and activities. 


Internal controls are monitored by the implementing of procedures for authorisation of all transactions and projects. Procedures are in place to ensure compliance with health and safety of staff, volunteers and visitors to the centre. Appropriate DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are made when required.


Objectives and activities

The stated objectives of the charity are:-


"Oblong aims to develop the capacity and skills of people living in socially and economically disadvantaged areas in such a way that they are better able to identify, and help meet, their needs and to create active, flourishing communities and to run a community centre, primarily for the benefit of the Woodhouse, Little London and Hyde Park areas"


In setting our objectives and planning our activities our trustees have given serious consideration to the Charity Commission's general guidance on public benefit and in particular the advancement of education and the enhancement of citizenship or community development.


Achievements and performance


Oblong resources

Oblong is user led and tries to provide the services people want. This currently includes:

● Drop in IT with access to print facilities

● Design and video work

● ESOL classes

● Head Space mental health well-being course

● Wide variety of volunteering opportunities

● Local gardening projects

● Community Centre facilities



Oblong is all about volunteers - they run most of the services we provide and without them we couldn't function. This year we have had over 100 volunteers take on many roles including gardening, fundraising, IT support, design, teaching ESOL, reception and bookings, administration, supporting small community groups, marketing and more.  Over three quarters of our reception and bookings volunteers have gone on to employment and/or further education/training.


At the end of April 2015 we successfully completed our Lottery funded volunteer project ‘Make a Difference’, with an excellent independent evaluation and positive feedback from the Lottery.  In August 2015 we are awarded a new three year grant to deliver our ‘Learn, Engage Do’ project. The project works with disadvantaged adults to develop their skills and confidence enabling them to move on to further volunteering or education, training or employment.


Volunteers are involved in every level of Oblong and make decisions on how the services are delivered in the different ‘collectives’ that make up the organisation.


Our Volunteers contribute so much to the work that Oblong does and we couldn’t achieve half of what we do without their skills and enthusiasm.


We are developing partnerships with other local organisations and education providers (eg Swarthmore / Northern College) to develop progression routes for our volunteers

We have already seen some of our volunteers  moved on to employment, and other volunteer opportunities, teaching English online, a nursery assistant, becoming a member of our Board of Trustees.

Active Citizens

A programme run in coordination with the British Council, Active Citizens connects and empowers people locally, nationally and worldwide. We’re running training courses and giving support to people who want to volunteer or set up new community action projects. We’re also creating global links by hosting international visitors and sending our own active citizens to see community projects in Morocco.

Woodhouse Community Centre

Our aim is to run the centre for the benefit of the local community, that everyone feels welcome at the centre, they enjoy their time here and leave wanting to come back. Our room bookings have increased and the number of activities available at the centre continues to expand. We now have a daily afterschool club for children, and almost daily activities for older people in Woodhouse and Little London. We have many activities that aim to support healthy active lifestyles, including; Yoga, Taekwondo, Krav Maga and Martial Arts. We also have a number of programmes supporting positive mental health, such as the Expert Patient Programme, Head Space, Meditation and Self Esteem courses. Community wide events include the monthly clothing exchange, Oblong cinema, community English conversation classes, Pay As You Feel junk food cafe three days a week and our Craft and a Cuppa group. Oblong have also started a monthly social that brings together tenants, staff, volunteers, room bookers, regulars and interested member of the community to chat, socialise, share food and plan for the future.

The IT suite and resource centre continue to be popular, providing computer and internet access to many local residents. The garden is full of spring flowers, and enjoyed by many centre users and members of the public.


English for Speakers of Other Languages

There is a huge need for English lessons in Leeds, especially for refugees and asylum seekers. With support our volunteers have set up and run a weekly free class, helping over 40 people to learn English. The group has a regular 8 - 10 attendees and is run by 2 LED volunteers who are gaining valuable experience in teaching.


Mental Wellbeing

A seven week course that helps people to discover their own ways to deal with stress, cope with difficult times and feel positive about themselves. Developed by Oblong and health professionals, Head Space shows how positive thinking, assertiveness skills, creativity, exercise, problem-solving and making plans for the future can help people get back on track during the difficult times that happen to all of us. This year Head Space has developed significantly, moving into different areas of Leeds and getting funding from the NHS and Local Authority. We’ve run over 30 courses, working in partnership with voluntary and statutory organisations all over the city and helping BME groups, parents, visually impaired people, asylum seekers and many others.

Leeds Locality Consortium

Oblong are part of the Leeds Locality Consortium which is aiming to asset transfer 8 local community centres from Leeds City Council to create Leeds Community Spaces. The Consortium are looking to complete the asset transfer in April 2017.


Financial Review

The Financial Statements for 2016 show incoming resources to be £273,249, an increase of £39,709 on the year before.


The overall balance at the year end increased from £189,190 to £230,497 with unrestricted reserves now standing at £64,437.


This year we have grown our earned income from room rental and contracted training as well as being successful in attracting increased grant funding. Due to a gap in grant funding at the start of the year we have been unable to make sufficient capital repayments on the outstanding loan and which has increased slightly due to interest applied. The loan repayments have now been restructured and we are in a stable position moving forwards to honour the payments while adding to reserves in future years.



We would like to thank all the funders who have made this work possible this year including The Big Lottery fund, Social Investment Business, Brelms trust, Lloyds Foundation, Public Health NE, Leeds mind, Leeds GATE, British Council, Leeds Community Foundation, Groundwork Leeds.



The Board has agreed to maintain reserve funds at a sufficient level in order to allow the smooth operation of the charities activities. The policy aims to hold between 3 and 6 months of resources expended, which equates to £75,000-£150,000. At present this level is at £64,437. We are aware this level falls below the target but have still managed over the last twelve months to add a modest £3,682. The revised Strategic plan for 2016-19 will detail how we hope to add gradually but surely to this amount to build up to a sustainable level as our services expand.


Plans for future period

Over the past 4 years, taking on the management of Woodhouse Community Centre has been a step-change in the scope of Oblongs operations. Our ongoing aim is to make the Centre the most accessible, sustainable and thriving community hub that will provide a wide range of learning, recreational, cultural, social and health activities. In 2015 - 2018 we’ll also be looking to develop new funding streams and expanding our mental wellbeing programme. We will work with the other members of Leeds Locality Consortium to develop new funding opportunities.


In addition to continuing to run these ongoing projects we aim to:

- develop an emotional resilience project for families

- run a ‘mental wellbeing at work’ course

- include work with youth and young people;

- improve outward looking communications;

- increase engagement / strategic marketing;

- measure our impact measurement;

- place stronger emphasis on health and well-being;

- strengthen emphasis on community development and small groups; and

Oblongs Strategic Plan for 2016-19 is currently being finalised and will detail specific targets identified to ensure we meet these aims.


On behalf of the board of directors

Independent Examiners report to the Directors of Oblong Ltd

I report on the accounts of the charity for the year ended 31 March 2016.


Respective responsibilities of Directors and Examiner


The directors, who also act as trustees for the charitable activities of Oblong Ltd are responsible for the preparation of the accounts. The directors consider that an audit is not required for this year under Section 144(2) of the Charities Act 2011, (the 2011 Act) and that an independent examination is needed. 


The charity's gross income exceeded £100,000 and I am qualified to undertake the examination being a Chartered Accountant.


Having satisfied myself that the charity is not subject to audit under company law and is eligible for independent examination it is my responsibility to:

(i) examine the accounts under section 145 of the 2011 Act;

(ii) to follow the procedures laid down in the general Directions given by the Charity Commission under section 145(5)(b) of the 2011 Act; and

(iii) to state whether particular matters have come to my attention.


Basis of Independent Examiner’s report


My examination was carried out in accordance with the general Directions given by the Charity Commission. An examination includes a review of the accounting records kept by the charity and a comparison of the accounts presented with those records. It also includes consideration of any unusual items or disclosures in the accounts, and seeking explanations from you as trustees concerning any such matters. The procedures undertaken do not provide all the evidence that would be required in an audit and consequently no opinion is given as to whether the accounts present a “true and fair view” and the report is limited to those matters set out in the statement below.


Your attention is drawn to the fact that the charity has prepared the accounts in accordance with Accounting and Reporting by Charities; Statement of Recommended Practice applicable to charities, preparing their accounts in accordance with Financial Reporting Standard (FRS102) in preference to the Accounting and Reporting by Charities; Statement of recommended practice issued in April 2005 which is referred to in the extant regulations but has since been withdrawn.


I understand that this has been done in order for the accounts to provide a true and fair view in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice effective for reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015.


Independent Examiner’s statement


In connection with my examination, no matter has come to my attention:

(a) which gives me reasonable cause to believe that in any material respect the requirements:

(i) to keep accounting records in accordance with section 386 of the Companies Act 2006; 

(ii) to prepare accounts which accord with the accounting records, comply with the accounting requirements of section 396 of the Companies Act 2006 and with the 

methods and principles of the Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting and Reporting by Charities; have not been met; or

(b) to which, in my opinion, attention should be drawn in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.


Stuart B Lodge FCA

Stuart B Lodge & Co

Chartered Accountants

44 Bradford Road



West Yorkshire

BD10 9PE

Statement Of Financial Activities - Including income and expenditure account

Balance sheet at 31 March 2016

Notes to the accounts

1. Accounting policies


1.1 Basis of preparation

The accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention unless otherwise stated.


The accounts have been prepared in accordance with applicable accounting standards, the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) published on 16 July 2014, the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) the Charities Act 2011, the Companies Act 2006 and UK Generally Accepted Practice as it applies from 1 January 2015.


The charity constitutes a public benefit entity as defined under FRS102.


In preparing the accounts the trustees have considered whether in applying the accounting policies required by FSR102 and the Charities SORP FRS102 a restatement of comparative items was needed. No restatements were required. 


1.2 Incoming resources

Core funding revenue grants are credited to the income and expenditure account as and when receivable. 


Revenue grants for specific projects are credited to the income and expenditure account as and when receivable and unspent amounts are carried forward as part of the restricted funds in the balance sheet. 


1.3 Resources expended

Expenditure is recognised on an accruals basis as a liability is incurred. Expenditure includes any VAT which cannot be recovered and is reported as part of the expenditure to which it relates.


Charitable expenditure comprises those costs incurred by the charity in the delivery of its activities and services for beneficiaries.


Governance costs includes those costs associated with meeting the constitutional and statutory requirement of the charitable company.


All costs are allocated between the expenditure categories on the SOFA on a basis designed to reflect the use of the resource.


1.4 Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

Tangible fixed assets are stated at cost less depreciation. Depreciation is provided at rates calculated to write off the cost less estimated residual value of each asset over its expected useful life, as follows:-

Fixtures and fittings 5 years straight line

Computers and equipment 3 years straight line


It is the policy of the charitable company to only include on the balance sheet individual items of a capital nature which cost £1,500 or more and only relates to those items that can be used for more than one year.

Notes to the accounts - income detail

Notes to accounts - expense detail

Analysis and further thoughts

This supplementary information is to help interpret the accounts and also some of my own reflections. 


Unrestricted money and reserves


How much have we got? £64,437, we have added an extra £3,682 to the reserves last year which is not that significant on income of £273,249


Sounds like quite a bit overall though? Not really, it would cover us for about 2.5 months if we lost any significant income streams and we also owe £244k loan we borrowed to do up the building.


How much would we like ideally? This does change from time to time but a rough rule of thumb is 6 months running costs which is ~£150k although to ensure more sustainability we should look to pay down the loan as soon as possible. Over the next 3-5 years if we can grow the reserves and reduce the loan through capital payments they might be at a similar level which would give us more financial stability. 


Ultimately the reserves are to further the objectives of the charity which means striking a balance between spending money doing stuff now and saving money to ensure any blips don't stop you doing stuff in the long term. It is not to stockpile cash and do nothing with but on the other hand running out of money can be incredibly disruptive and we want to avoid that.


What are the key take away figures from the Independent Examination?


We had income of  ~£273k which was ~£40k more than the year before

We now have ~£230k of value (balance sheet)

Of that ~£230k value, ~£64k is cash in the bank, £122k is the building value and ~£44k is project money



How much money did we get in and what did we spend it on?


So we know we got ~£40k more income than the previous year.


We had ~£50k more in grants this year, £14k more rental income and £13k more in Training income but no large donation like the previous year only £3,766 relating to gift aid from the previous years donation which is about what the overall profit was for the year


All the restricted income is within the 'charitable activities' section as the restrictions are usually by funders. 55% of the income was restricted which is higher than 44% in the previous year but this is merley a reflection of the grants like for like growth being significantly higher compared to the other unresricted streams growth. This is still much lower than a historical average well above 90% and we continue to work hard diversifying and growing non-grant income to become more sustainable in the long term.