Clubs & Charities under pressure

Paul McConnellPosted 29 June 2015 By Paul McConnell, Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioner In Business Recovery & Insolvency

Last week Steve Elliott, Monahans’ Insolvency Partner, was appointed liquidator of the long established Calne Woodlands Social Club in Calne, Wiltshire. The club was originally provided for the use of the 2,000 strong workforce and their families at the Harris Bacon factory where the “Wiltshire Cured Ham” process originated. The club and premises (part of which are listed) was donated to the members when the factory closed in 1983, the remainder of the site being sold for re-development.

The advent of the smoking ban and the impact of the recession have led to a much reduced membership, now around 500, which has in turn led to trading losses over several years causing the club’s eventual closure.

This club, in common with many small clubs and charities, has been run by willing volunteers through the years. Sometimes, the mix of skills available is not enough to meet the current challenges facing these volunteer-led organisations. Members clubs are facing increased competition and reduced membership, charities are fighting for donations whilst also coping with funding cuts in the public sector.

This was true in the case of Calne Woodlands;  legal issues went unrecognised and the mounting debts were masked by forbearance on the part of creditors because of the social and community nature of the club. Local professionals did rally to help but too much damage had already been done.

The lack of skills is one that is hard for all these organisations to address but it is likely to be crucial to the survival of other like organisations. Club committee members or charity trustees should reach out to the professional community before a crisis and might just find some of us willing to help.

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