Not-For-Profits Programme: The Counselling & Family Centre

About the charity

The Counselling and Family CentreThe Counselling and Family Centre (CFC) works at the heart of its community in Trafford, providing confidential counselling to children, adults, and their families.  Its dedicated professionals help people to find a way forward, gain confidence, and lead happier lives. Issues dealt with can include anything from substance abuse to anxiety. CFC also offers peer support groups and training courses on topics such as anger management, understanding addiction, and parenting skills.

No matter what the issue is and no matter what the ability to pay, CFC’s doors are open to everyone.

Advice needed

CFC had received an offer of grant funding, but this was conditional on it having a minimum of ten years remaining on the lease of its premises. At that time, CFC only had seven years left to run on its lease and so it had entered into negotiations with the council to surrender its current lease and enter into a new longer lease to meet the requirements of the grant funder.

Like many applicants to the Not-For-Profits Programme, CFC could not afford to pay for a solicitor, so it applied to LawWorks for help reviewing and negotiating the new lease with the council.

View of CFC Building across Duck Pond

Help provided  

LawWorks assessed CFC’s eligibility for the programme and worked closely with it to gather background information and relevant documents. A brief was then presented to potential volunteers and the opportunity was taken up by Anna Lowe at Shoosmiths, who was particularly keen to help CFC as it worked locally to her.

CFC had been “going round in circles” with the council but Anna managed to progress the negotiations and ultimately complete the new lease. CFC said it was thoroughly impressed as Anna skilfully guided it through each step of the process.  CFC described Anna as “an absolute star” and “extremely knowledgeable”. It said it “felt lucky to get someone that competent and that professional, particularly on a pro bono basis”. 

Impact 

For CFC, Anna’s help has made “an enormous difference” – it now has a 20 year lease and can comply with its funder’s requirements. CFC explained that it “got a much better deal than we could reasonably have expected to arrive at on our own”.  

Anna commented that, without the advice, CFC would have had to pay for the advice using money which ultimately does not get to go to those who need its help. If CFC had tried to negotiate itself, the process could also have taken much longer. 

Anna said she found “a real sense of satisfaction” in helping out a local charity and that it provided a feeling of doing something worthwhile with her skills. CFC also proved to be a “delight to deal with”.

About LawWorks

CFC found the process of applying to LawWorks very easy: “It worked like a charm…an outstanding experience”.

Anna said that she would definitely take on another pro bono matter: “they’re often very interesting cases and you wouldn’t otherwise have other similar matters in your caseload”.  Of her overall experience, Anna said that “only good can come out of it”.