Support for community groups and organisations

Oatlands Pre-school and Community Centre – secured for the future

posed photo of group of women
room full of people at tables
pre-schoolers painting
3 adults and 3 pre-schoolers outside centre door

With the help of Community First Yorkshire, this community centre and pre-school has become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), redeveloped its building and secured new trustees to ensure a vibrant future.

What was the challenge?

Operating from a former church firmly placed Oatlands Pre-school and Community Centre in the heart of their community. Keeping the building for community use as well as offering early years provision was proving a challenge. Trustees felt that they needed to refocus on the bigger picture of meeting community needs, as originally laid out in their constitution.

The organisation was finding it difficult to recruit trustees, plus meet the parent/non-parent trustee ratio that the Pre School Learning Alliance (PLA) insisted upon.

The board wanted to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with a new constitution, greater legal protection and a stronger focus as a community resource. With such a long checklist, they turned to Community First Yorkshire for help.

Mark from Community First Yorkshire said: “Helping an organisation embed itself into the heart of its community is something we strongly believe in. We’re sure that with new trustees, a new constitution and a new community focus, the  pre-school will go from strength to strength.”

How did Community First Yorkshire help?

“The trustees felt that becoming a CIO would help us to futureproof the community aspect of the organisation’s purpose.  We wanted to offer people from 0 to 99 years plus the opportunity to use the building and put it back at the heart of the community for generations to come,” said Geri, the charity’s Chair.

Oatlands Pre-school and Community Centre initially felt overwhelmed with all the changes they needed to make, but support from Community First Yorkshire made the process run smoothly.

Mark from Community First Yorkshire helped the organisation access funding for vital building work and to become a CIO. He also helped the trustees with everyday issues plus opened the door to new trustee recruitment.

Geri says, “Changing our constitution was a really daunting prospect. Getting started – what did we need to put in the constitution, how we were going to evidence it and communicate it to our members – was difficult and we needed help. Mark and his extensive knowledge and experience were invaluable. I doubt very much that we would have continued down the path without his expertise.”
Community First Yorkshire’s advisers were easy to work with. “Communication was great. Mark came to meetings with the trustees and members and was fully on-hand to support us and answer questions,” Judith, the charity’s Treasurer explained.

“We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Community First Yorkshire and already have! Their expertise is incredible.”
Geri, the charity’s Chair

About the organisation.

Established in 1968, Oatlands Pre-school and Community Centre is an award-winning, voluntary, not for profit organisation and a registered charity in Harrogate. Their main activity is to offer care and education to children aged 2-4 years. They follow the Early Years Curriculum and are Ofsted Registered. The charity also provides affordable community space for local groups and private events.

What does the future look like?

“Footfall into the community centre has really increased. We have toddler groups, private parties, training, Weight Watchers, a Methodist Church coffee morning, pilates class and so on. Our vision for the next year is that it becomes a vibrant hub at the heart of the community,” Geri says.

Not only has Community First Yorkshire helped the trustees to become an incorporated charity with greater legal protection, it has also made it easier to recruit new trustees. Geri adds: “We now have more trustees who are committed and have more time, as the charity is no longer tied to the PLA requirement to have a 60:40 parent: community ratio.”

Do you need help with…
  • Securing income for your organisation or project?
  • Turning your ideas of becoming a new community organisation into a reality?
  • Benefitting from greater security as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)?
  • Thinking about reviewing your organisation and planning ahead?
  • Understanding trustee’s legal roles and responsibilities?
  • Benefitting from a financial health check?

Our advisers can help. Call us today 01904 704177 or

How we can help you.

As a registered charity, we understand your needs. Our local advisers work across North Yorkshire and will come to you to ensure you get access to the best quality advice and guidance including funding advice, helping you set up as a community organisation, governance and trustees, finance support, marketing advice, and exploring ways to further develop your organisation.
If you know a community group, charity or social enterprise that needs some support to be even more successful, contact one of our friendly advisors on 01904 704177 or