Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, February 01, 2016

Visiting Two Charities on Merseyside - The First Step and Centre 63


Centre 63 and The First Step - charities supported by the Ten-Percent Foundation


The two trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation (the charitable trust linked to Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and responsible for distributing the annual 10% donation of profits) visited a couple of charities in North West England today. Both are within an hours drive of our company head office in Mold and we have supported them in the past.

We have made a decision to look at developing long term funding for both charities and so went to meet the charities to discuss how and what we can assist with.

Both charities fit our spending criteria as follows:

  1. The charity deals with a range of work that appeals to us.
  2. The charity has no ulterior motive – eg religious teachings or political leanings.
  3. The charity appears to do some good and does not just hoard money or spend it frivolously.
  4. The charity pays its staff a reasonable and not excessive level of remuneration.
We went to visit them to discuss criteria 3 and find out exactly what the charities do. The Ten-Percent Foundation has decided to provide £2,500 of funding per year to both organisations for the next 5 years.

Centre 63


Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment with Jeane Lowe, Manager of Centre 63
Centre 63 is a youth centre based in the centre of Kirkby, Merseyside. Kirkby is essentially a suburb left over from the days when Liverpool Council was involved in slum clearances and built a whole new district in the fields some miles north of Liverpool. It is extremely deprived (it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country), and perhaps most famous for a recent battle with Tescos, who wanted to demolish the entire town centre and build a massive new superstore together with a football ground for Everton!

Set up in 1963 (hence the name), the centre acts as a hub for a number of different projects. However the main focus of the centre is the ethos of providing overall support. Jeane Lowe, the manager of Centre 63 (she has been there for over 25 years) gave one example of the type of person assisted - a teenager who had left school without formal qualifications (somewhat common in Kirkby) and lacking any self-esteem. She mentioned to staff that she was very conscious of being overweight, so the centre paid for her to go to the local gym for 3 months (this was monitored). The centre also assisted her to get Maths and English GCSE qualifications. After 3 months she  decided to get a qualification as a lifeguard and subsequently finished up working at the local David Lloyd centre as a lifeguard. Now she is seeking to do further qualifications and progress her career further with the company.

Another example of the type of service the centre offers is the advice line, which rather than providing advice actually gives practical support (something legal aid lawyers will only too well remember from days when Green Form/Legal Help assistance was available and quick & effective action could be rendered). The centre will proactively assist people with a whole range of issues - they have just managed to get FCA registered for debt advice - so for example they will help someone who is struggling with the rent, not getting the right benefits, lacking furniture, not able to get a landlord to make essential repairs, checking out child care to enable search for work, providing equipment, arranging for new fixtures and fittings to be put in. The charity has strong links with local companies and uses locally sourced furniture, carpets and curtains etc.. wherever possible.

The centre provides assistance to new tenants - trying to ensure they do not instantly get into debt and help to equip a property - eg sofa, carpet, curtains, kitchen implements etc.. etc.. They will go through benefits and ensure that the person is getting everything they ought to be and then look at help with child care. A soft approach is taken towards getting users to look at work opportunities through a volunteer project and also to get onto actual training courses that could lead onto further education or a career in the longer term.

The centre operates as a youth club as well - with children aged between 8 and 16 using the facilities. They also work with youths up to 18 years old through their music project, although that is in between funding/managers when we visited. Quite a bit of space within the building is sublet to other charities and organisations - a bike repair shop is opening shortly, the Princes Trust are upstairs together with Connexions, and the car park and garage is sublet to a car valeting business, set up by a user of the centre and paying rent back into the charity.

Our funding of £2,500 per year for the next 5 years (subject to recessions, property collapses and general disasters etc..) will pay for the charity to maintain its IT equipment. The charity seems extremely good at getting grants from various larger sources of funding - eg National Lottery, Children in Need and the Rank Foundation - but a lot of these places require the charity to be in place and operating its own back office. The current equipment is looking a little dated, and we hope that our funding will assist in keeping this going.. We particularly like the practical action

A lot of charities in the area have struggled to survive in recent years and closed down. Centre 63 is still there - alive and kicking - and we hope it continues in the future. It always amazes me how much time is spent making applications for grants by some of these organisations, which then have to be spent in particular ways. It is a shame there are not more funding arrangements that just let charities get on with doing the job to hand - ie supporting the youth of Kirkby, a very much ignored age group in a forgotten area of the country...

You can find out more about Centre 63 at www.centre63.org.uk. 

If you want to donate to the work of the Centre please contact them directly.

The First Step


Jonathan Fagan of Ten-Percent with Angela Cholet, CEO of The First Step
The First Step, in a few sentences, is a domestic violence project based in Kirkby and working with victims/survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence across the region. They provide refuge facilities for women and children, training for professionals who may come across domestic violence in their work (345 people in 2015), a perpetrator course and individual support and advice. 46 women and 58 children were assisted via the refuge in 2015. One of the main differences this charity has to others in the same field is that they believe passionately in the need to focus more on the perpetrators instead of solely concentrating on the victims. Angela Cholet, the Chief Executive, spoke of the need to recognise that dealing with domestic violence is not just about ticking boxes to say that someone has been extracted from a situation and is now 'out of it', but rather to look at addressing the behaviour of the instigator of the domestic violence and deal with that. Problems abound with trying to ensure that women stay away from abusive men. A lot of perpetrators of domestic violence are charming, manipulative and very difficult to deal with. Its always easier to deal with victims, who by the very nature of their position often have low self-esteem and are simpler for the professionals dealing with families to manage.

As benefit changes kick in, dealing with families experiencing domestic violence gets so much more difficult. It seems that a lot of the reforms being undertaken after Ian Duncan-Smith's 'Universal Credit' have had unforeseen consequences. For example in the case of a woman leaving the family home and seeking help the benefits will be paid into a shared account and she will have to start the application process all over again from scratch.

We have decided to commit £2,500 of funding per year for the next 5 years to go towards the costs of running the perpetrator course. This is a course not linked to the probation service (ie not a 'complete the course or go to prison' type operation). It takes referrals from community organisations as well as self-referrals from men who have recognised the need to get help. 50% of applicants are rejected following an initial assessment - the course is only suitable for men who are actually able to recognise their behaviour and the need for change. The course lasts for 26 weeks and is no quick fix. One of the most striking examples of the behavioural change is the need for course participants to call their partners by their names, other than "her", "it" and much worse. Something so simple yet shocking.. The average length of time waiting for a place on the course is 2 weeks, which is quite astonishing in this day and age. 88 men attended for assessment in 2015. The charity also get in touch with the (ex) partners of all the men on the course so that they are aware of the attendance and also to provide support. Over 80% of women who have partners or ex-partners who have completed the course say that they feel safer at the end of it.

You can find out more about The First Step by visiting their website www.thefirststep.org.uk.

You can also donate to the charity by visiting www.justgiving.com/thefirststep


We hope to have the full list of donations for 2016 up on the website shortly. I also hope to write a bit about each charity we have funded. This is in the hope that others can see how we make decisions and that it is possible to donate to charities where chief executives are not paid more than the Prime Minister and a difference can be made with small amounts of money.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. 

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