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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)
Colin Peter Fairhurst (resigned 26 November 2015)
Michael Su (appointed 26 November 2015)
Oblong Ltd supports a number of community groups and these are referred to as “member projects”.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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