Want some advice, kid? Go to Essex

A financial crisis has put the Children's Legal Centre at risk, and forced it to move out of London. Barbara Lantin reports

The Children's Legal Centre has been having a rough time. The centre has shut its London office and moved to Essex University amid allegations that members of the management committee have acted secretively and in panic. The four staff have been made redundant and two members of the management committee have resigned. And a large slice of grant funding has been withdrawn because of these changes.

TheCLC, set up in 1981, runs an advice line for children, parents and professionals, publishes a monthly bulletin of law and policy affecting children and young people and has lobbied on their behalf. It had been in financial difficulties for some time due partly to a drop in subscription renewals for its magazine Childright and a decline in publication sales. A recent report by the consultancy arm of the Charities Aid Foundation for the Department of Health, which helps to fund the centre, said it had been "living beyond its means".

The CAF report also found "hostility, lack of trust, misunderstanding and misinterpretation and lack of communication between the staff and the committee with "neither party apparently able to collaborate effectively with the other to secure a resolution of the ... problems". The report's authors proposed a rescue that included the urgent appointment of an interim chief executive who could call in financial marketing and fund- raising expertise.

However, at the end of April, a month after the report was presented, staff were told protective redundancy notices were being enforced, and that the centre would move to Essex University, where the committee's chair, Carolyn Hamilton, is a senior lecturer in the law department. If the centre was still in existence after a month, they would be offered part-time work at Essex.

The CLC's former co-ordinator, Nicola Wyld, is saddened by the suddenness of the move. "I know the financial position was bad but I think the decision to move to Essex was a panic reaction. From the end of March we had employed a fund-raising and marketing consultant whose brief was emergency income generation. It was my understanding that we were aiming to keep going in the hope that by June something would have come through from the appeal."

Ms Hamilton says relocating the centre at her university was the only alternative to complete closure. "As a charitable trust you have to be sure that you are not trading when insolvent and we were worried we would become insolvent. We did not have a choice."

She added that Childright was back in publication and the advice line was running in the afternoons with qualified staff, with a morning session planned in September. The committee is handing over production and distribution to a commercial publisher while retaining editorial control.

Meanwhile, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which has funded the centre since its inception, had agreed to bring forward the third year of its grant payment in order to help to ease the financial crisis. However, after the staff redundancies, the trust withdrew its funding.

The Department of Health has continued its funding. But some have reservations about how effective the CLC will now be. Hereward Harrison, director of counselling for Childline UK, said it could be difficult for the centre to continue its lobbying work so far from Westminster. "Also, the staff were specialists. And the centre was the only place children could refer themselves for legal advice. It's been a marvellous service. One just hopes that will continue."

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

    Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

    Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

    Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

    £Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas