Not-for-Profits Programme: Bromley Experts by Experience

“If we had lost the contract and lease we would have had to close.”

Bromley Experts by Experience Community Interest Company (“Bromley XbyX”) is a vibrant, user led organisation run by and for deaf and disabled people and carers. It aims to support its service users to work with the local authority in order to help shape local policy and planning; to provide accessible information about their rights and entitlements; to facilitate an inclusive and accessible society; and to promote independent living for disabled people.  It runs accessible events to encourage local people to have their say on issues that matter to them, and to inform them about changes that might affect their lives. It also uses its website, newsletters and social media pages to share information about disability issues. 

Bromley XbyX sought help from LawWorks when both its lease and service contract with the local council were up for renewal. Both agreements were fundamental to its survival, but the Board had some concerns about certain clauses and was worried about the organisation being tied into something that would be detrimental to it in the future. 

LawWorks put Bromley XbyX in contact with Susan Pearson at Howard Kennedy LLP, who chose to take on the matter because of the organisation’s focus on helping those with disabilities, an issue she particularly cares about. Susan prepared a report on the draft lease and services agreement, highlighting specific points for the organisation to consider. The organisation was highly appreciative of the fact that she “took care to go over [its] documents thoroughly” and “explained her comments in straightforward language”. Susan’s advice enabled Bromley XbyX to go back to the council and negotiate some changes in the lease and contract.

Image credit: Bromley Experts by Experience CIC, who can translate documents into Easy Read

The changes meant that the organisation could feel confident of its future and gave the Board peace of mind going forward. Without help from LawWorks, it would have had to sign the contract and lease without querying the proposed terms, as it could not have afforded to pay for a lawyer. 

Joanne Munn, Coordinator at Bromley XbyX, said that Susan was “very patient, responsive and professional … we felt we wouldn’t have had a better level of service if we had paid for it.” She said that LawWorks provides an “invaluable service” that is “needed more than ever” in the climate of austerity that has hit many not-for-profit organisations hard.   

Susan said she enjoyed working with Joanne and knowing she was able to offer help to the organisation. The case also gave her a greater understanding of how charities operate and, in particular, the importance of drafting appropriate Services Agreements. Whilst recognising that people choose to contribute to charitable causes in many different ways, Susan would recommend taking on a pro bono matter to anyone who is considering doing so.