Community Champions

Insolvency team secures £120,000 for charities supporting Swindon’s children

Written by Peter Davison.

Olwen Kelly and Caroline Smith of Womens Aid, Paul McConnell and Steve Elliott of MHA Monahans, Stephanie Hathaway and Liz Angus of KoalasChartered accountants MHA Monahans have handed over £120,000 of surplus funds to two Swindon causes following completion of the official closure of the West Swindon Family Centre.

West Swindon Family Centre was forced to close in April 2017 due to rising costs and funding cuts.

Insolvency partner Steve Elliott was appointed by the charity trustees, to deal with the closure by way of solvent liquidation. As part of the process, Steve and his team worked with the trustees to wind up the charity formally: liaising with and paying the centre’s remaining creditors; renegotiating the lease on the playgroup to a new provider; and selling the centre’s premises.

The resulting surplus funds have now been donated to two other local charities, as nominated by the centre’s former trustees – Swindon Women’s Aid and Koalas Swindon Opportunity Group.

The two charities each received £60,000 which will be put towards funding services that will directly improve the lives of Swindon’s vulnerable and disabled children.

Koalas Swindon Opportunity Group provides pre-school education for children under 5 years old who have a range of special educational needs or disabilities, as well as support and advice for their families.

Koalas currently supports up to 48 children every week who have additional needs as a result of a range of conditions including Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, visual or hearing impairment, global development delay or chromosome deletion.

The service currently has a waiting list of families needing support.

Swindon Women’s Aid will be allocating their funds to their children and young people project which provides direct support to children in their refuge escaping domestic violence and abuse, as well as working with them in the community and providing workshops on healthy relationships in schools.

Last year Swindon Women’s Aid worked with 178 children and young people in the refuge, as well as 909 families in Swindon and reached over 600 young people through schools.

Steve explained: “West Swindon Family Centre found themselves in the position where although they held a number of assets, due to funding cuts they could not afford to continue operating.

"Through the solvent liquidation process we were able to release these assets and pass on the remaining funds to local charities with similar aims, as nominated by the trustees.

“We’re very pleased to be able to pass on these funds and continue the incredible support and help that both Women’s Aid and Koalas provide to our local community.

“Small charities everywhere are under tremendous funding pressure and the brave, and timely, decisions taken by the trustees of the West Swindon Family Centre have released this surplus to be put to good use in continuing to help children and families in Swindon.”

Stephanie Hathaway, manager of Koalas, added: “We at Koalas are saddened at the loss of West Swindon Family Centre and recognise the impact that this has had on the mutual families supported.

"We are so very grateful to them for sharing these funds with us at a time when funding for valuable services can no longer be assured. It will go a long way to ensure Koalas is able to continue the work we do, supporting the families across Swindon whose children have Special Educational Needs and disabilities.”

Olwen Kelly, the director of Swindon Women’s Aid said she was extremely grateful to receive this generous donation. “The impact on children who live in domestically abusive homes can be significant, yet there is lack of funding to support these children to recover from their traumatic experiences.

"Swindon Women’s Aid relies solely on fundraising and donations to be able to provide this vital support and this kind donation will enable us to continue this important work.”