Trustees of a community centre did not realise that they were running a registered charity and failed to report a serious incident after a stabbing near its premises, a Charity Commission investigation has found.
The regulator has published the findings of its statutory inquiry into the Gloucester community centre, All Nations Community Centre, which found that former trustees of ANCC “did not recognise the centre as a charity despite it being registered and established as such”.
The Commission investigated ANCC after the charity failed to file required financial information for over five years. The regulator held a meeting with the former trustees and found that they were not aware of their legal duties as trustees, including the need to file accounts.
It was concerned that the charity’s property could be at risk, after a former trustee said that they wanted to de-register as soon as possible and took protective action to prevent the charity from selling its property without permission from the regulator.
The Commission said that former trustees “did not recognise All Nations Community Centre as being a charity”. It was being run as a social club after members of the community had raised money to pay off the debt of the Jamaican Sports and Social Club and Community Centre and established the All Nations Community Centre to receive the charitable assets, which was its property.
Serious incident involving a double stabbing and a firearm near charity premises
The charity had taken over the Jamaican Sports and Social Club and Community Centre building in 2007 and was registered with general charitable purposes around community development, however investigators found no transactions on bank statements that appeared charitable.
The centre’s main activity was the running of a bar, which the law does not permit as charitable.
On 15 November 2017, Gloucester police notified the Commission about a serious incident on the weekend 11/12 November 2017, involving a double stabbing and firearm discharge in the early hours of the morning, near the charity’s premises following an event that was connected to the bar.
As a result of this incident, a temporary partial closure order was placed on the charity in relation to the bar. This affected the operation of the charity because it relied solely on bar sales to generate its income.
When the inquiry contacted the charity about the matter on 28 November 2017, one of the former trustees told the inquiry that the incident happened away from the premises after the charity had closed and they therefore had nothing to report.
The incident that occurred on the weekend of 11/12 November caused significant risk to the charity’s reputation because it had attracted “adverse publicity” for the charity and a subsequent police investigation.
“The former trustees failed to recognise the implications that this incident had (or was likely to have) on the charity’s reputation and ongoing financial viability and did not report the incident to the Commission.”
New trustees have been appointed and the charity has set up a trading subsidiary to operate the bar. It has also filed its outstanding accounts, which show it has an annual income of around £60,000.
Amy Spiller, head of investigations team at the Charity Commission said: “This charity is clearly valued in the community and has an important role to bring people together, and so the issues we found were disappointing. Being a charity trustee is an important role, and this case highlights the problems that can develop if trustees do not understand their responsibilities or seek appropriate professional advice.
“Our inquiry has been crucial in enabling the charity to establish proper governance arrangements and procedures for the benefit of the community it was set up to help. I am pleased that the trustees have made progress and demonstrated a willingness to address our concerns. I hope and expect that this will continue so that the charity is able to thrive in the future.”
The Commission has closed the inquiry, issued trustees with an action plan and said it will continue to monitor the charity's progress.
This story has been updated to clarify that the charity was being run as a social club and include detail about the circumstances that led to its formation.