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Dreadful Scary Day


Rea
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Yesterday I emailed the charity commission to ask if we could become a community interest company and retain our charitable status. I explained we were having great trouble getting a commitee.

Today a very nice but very serious man phoned me to say that without the officers we would have to close. I explained that at present the treasurer and secretary, although now staff were continuing until I could get some committee members at our AGM in Nov. Very strongly, he warned me that by letting staff do a trustee role I was in breach of the constitution and that they could claim back any wages the staff had received. I explained that they had filled in a conflict of interest form and hadnt received andy money for the trustee roles and that they were really just helping me out until I could get committee members. Both staff members had previously been trustees but had become staff in September. He said I hadnt told the charity commission and so had no authorisation for this to be happening. I told again they were merely helping me out but he said I'd already declared that they were doing the role sand I would have to disolve the playgroup without a proper committee. I told him I knew that but hadnt realised just how serious it was so he recommended I put it all in writing to them.

I raced up to playgroup and we put up a notice telling parents we were in imminent danger of being closed by the charit cmmission if we didnt get a treasurer, secretary and at least 2 othe members. The only people who responded were a woman who has multiple personal probelms and the 15 year old siste of one of our children.

I was in bits. The woman whos 15 yr old offered to help managed to calm me down by reminding me of amember I'd forgotten about and about a aprent who used to work with us that she was sure would be able to help.

So tomorrow I'm sending the letter explaining that although I was aware we needed a committee with officers I had no idea of the seriousness and that I'm on the case. I will definilty close next week if no-one comes forward.

Hopefully that will be enough to get some of the parents on board.

And if you'll forgive the language, I'm knackered!!

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Oh Rea what a dilemma for you. Are you members of the PSLA, and do you run to there constitution. If yes i understood that you could have staff as long as they were not paid for this role. Can you get some advice from your local early years advisers at all or PSLA if you are members, or any other body that your group may be affiliated to.

Massive big hugs coming your way. :o

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Goodness gracious! I also rang them yesterday with a similar thing and the lady I spoke to asked me to ring the PSLA without delay to go through our constitution. That states that staff CAN hold posts such as these although she said that I may need 'help' from a parent to do the Treasurer's role (er, ok) as long as staff are in a minority on the committee and don't vote on things that affect them, like pay rises, and don't receive any pay for the role (so no overtime etc) Big breathing space then!

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Yes we have the PLA constitution and I told him that but he still said staff couldnt be a trustee even if it was temporary to help me out. He was nice but so very serious. i TOLD HIM THEY ONLY GET PAID FOR THE STAFF ROLE WORKING WITH THE CHILDREN NOT FOR THE TRUSTEE ROLES BUT HE SCARED me (so much I forgot where the darn CAP button was !!)

Anyway, he was adamant that we are in breach of our constitution and would have to disolve without a committee. I'm just glad I didnt ask him for a deadline!

 

I'm phoning PLA for advice tomorrow, but I know they'll be as much help as a chocolate teapot and tell me what he said is right. I'm leaving the poster up until Wednesday, all parents will have seen it by then and then I suppose I'll have to carry out my promise to close. Staff will be happy to catch up on paperwork but I really really hope it doesnt come to that.

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Oh Rea, what a nightmare!

 

Can I help? I'm on your doorstep and although I can't commit to treasurer or secretary I could help on committee if it makes the difference between you staying open or being forced to close..... PM me anytime.

 

Nona

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Oh Nona, thats a lovely offer, thank you, but I dont see why anyone other than a parent SHOULD take on the roles.

 

I've just taken a look at us on the charity commission web site. I think I've found the source of our problems, at least as far as my phone man was concerned.

It seems we are officially still working to the PLA constitution of June 2006, not the 2008 one which allows staff to be on the committee.

I know it was approved at a meeting under the previous chair, but as with eveything she touched it was left incomplete!! So if I can track down the probably incpmplete minutes of that meeting to prove the updated constitution was adopted I should be ok. Or hopefully anyway, I've just seen the email my phone man sent me, he said the wages the trustees had recieved could be legally challenged!

Oh heck, and all this is on me because I couldnt say NO to a simple question 'would you be the chair?'

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Oh Rea how awful! We are in similar position in that noone wants to be our chair- we have a treasurer and secretary so are holding a meeting in two weeks with the hope that someone will be brave enough to step forward.

Parents say they do not want to see the group close yet refuse to do their utmost to support the running of the groupfrustrating on our part when our jobs are at risk and the children and families we are so passionate about supporting could be let down. Fortunately we have a parent (last yrs vice chair) who has said he will be it if noone else will do it but it shouldn't come down to that.

Our Development Officer was at our AGM when our chair resigned and suggested we have a meeting in a fortnight. This would need to be followed by an Extraordinary AGM if still lacking a chair- have you had any of these following meetings yet? Surely committee run pre-schools around the country struggle every AGM to get enough support so they are aware that you need to have follow up meetings first before worst comes to worst.

Also, could you ask your last chair and trustees to step in temporarily so that you can hold an emergency meeting to re-adopt the new consitution- our DO said if a chair felt they could not fulfil the role adequately, a new chair could be co-opted throughout the year.

Speak to your Development Officer/ similar and see what they advise as they should know the ins and outs of such occurances.

Wishing you all the luck

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Just wanted to wish you well in your crusade...this would top my 'scary day' list if I was sat in your shoes.

 

It seems hopeful that you've found the potential source of your problems. Fingers crossed the solution follows quickly

 

 

Is it worth ringing again...would it be like ofsted where you get variable answers depending on who you speak with?

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Its VERY frustrating when the parents love the group but cant give really just a few hours now and then. I havent had a child there for 13 years for goodness sake!!

We're having n extraordinary meeting in the next few days, and we're also going to the PLA AGM next week so at least I can talk to people and not just a screen. (not knocking this particular screen though, its the absolute lynchpin of my sanity).

To be honest I've told my only committee member that until I say otherwise shes anythng she needs to be, bless her.

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Rea you sound like a saint to me. :o Have been having a look for you myself and it appears where you may have come a cropper is that they were still classified as officers if they had stayed on the committee as committee members but with no title role you would be okay. As Maz so rightly says it is in the local authorities interest for you to continue to run . Can you phone your Development Officer for advice and support.

Hope it gets sorted out for you soon. :(xD

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Rea just wanted to wish you all the very best. I am sure that with your determination you can get this matter resloved. I do hope your local PSLA can help you out here, after all it's their constitution that has got you into this pickle in the first place.

There does seem to be a real problem now with PSLA constitutions. Strange when we all struggle to get trustees that the government is trying out it's "big society" model. All I can say is good luck.

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Rea, you poor thing!

 

My EYA suggested I could ask around the village for literally anyone who would come on committee. This could be a retired local rather than a parent if I was in need. Obviously you're right that it should be parents if possible, but that might be a possibility.

 

I must admit that I keep my head down as far as the charity commission is concerned, as I'm pretty sure there are a couple of things I'm not doing 'right' but what they don't know won't hurt them.

 

I hope it all works out for you, I would offer to help like Nona but unfortunately I'm about an hour and a half away from you.

 

Would it be worth phoning the CC again and trying to speak to someone more sympathetic. After all you are a volunteer, running a voluntary organisation, and that's got to count for something surely?

 

Good luck!

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Suzie, you'd think so wouldnt you? But I really dont think it makes any difference to them. There are rules and as an organisation we didnt stick to them.

 

 

Just spent the best part of 2 hours typing my reply to his email. I've had to include job descriptions for the trustees, job descriptions for the staff, a copy of our conflict of interest policy and details of why I think the trustees were the best ones for the job. That was easy, they were the only ones who came forward!

I think though when he realises that an oversight on the part of the previous chair in telling them we had adopted the 2008 constitution is at the heart of this, he will be able to look at us differently. Although I was still allowing staff to take on the role of trustee's. It really was to help me out. Luckily we're only just into term and close to our AGM, so I can amend and stretch the truth a bit without anyone knowing. Its the previous chair who got us into this mess. I just wish that when people realise they cant do a job that they'd be upfront and tell someone. I, on the other hand, am so disorganised that I know where my limitations lie and get help straight away.

I have one other person I can add as committee member so far and even my son has said he'll join!

So now I will send the letter and await the outcome. After I've found the minutes where we agreed to adopt the 2008 constitution, and that could take time.

Thanks for all the hugs and good wishes, I would say I wouldnt wish this onto my worst enemy, but at the moment its the previous chair, and so I would wish this onto her :o

Edited by Rea
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Oh no ... I haven't got any of that stuff. xD

 

This is where I'm tempted to duck my head down and pretend I haven't seen the requirement, I'm afraid. There's lots of stuff in our constitution about conflict of interest, would that be enough? We adopted the 2008 constitution last year (this will make you laugh, Rea, at the time we were in theory still working on a version from about 1996 :o )

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Hi Rea - sorry I have only just caught up with this thread........

 

Can't offer any 'wise words' - sorry......so just adding my best wishes.........as others have said 'they are incredibly lucky to have you on board'......

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Someone just recently posted this site where I found it Governance pages

 

Thanks to whoever it was :o

 

 

I've not got that either - how are we meant to know we should have this stuff! It's getting absolutely ludicrous, I'm SO tempted to tell the CC where they can walk to

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I'm SO tempted to tell the CC where they can walk to

 

 

Or jump... :o

 

I have no idea how we are supposed to know what we dont know. I did think about shouting '42' at everyone, its supposed to be the answer to the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything! Shall I try, we are due an Ofsted? :(xD

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