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 And a large slice of grant funding has been withdrawn because of these changes.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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
Life and Style
food + drink
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

    Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

    £55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

    £16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith