Old Barn Community Centre strategic supportLondon Borough of Barnet
The Old Barn in East Finchley, North London, is a purpose-built community centre, which was set up in 1981 to provide clubs and activities for local people. The organisation that operated the centre was known as the Old Barn Youth and Community Association (OBYCA). For nearly 30 years it ran youth clubs and community activities. However in recent years OBYCA began to struggle financially and new trustees took over the management. Many people felt that the centre was no longer providing benefit to the wider community.
After a campaign by a group of local residents, the Charity Commission investigated the OBYCA and formed the opinion that it had no validly appointed trustees. On 31st October they published an order appointing Mobilise Public Ltd as trustee for the OBYCA. As trustee we were tasked with assessing the future viability of the OBYCA. We reported back to the Charity Commission by the end of December recommending closure of the charity and for the lease to revert to the Council.
We were then tasked by the London Borough of Barnet to undertake further work to ensure that the Old Barn could be brought back into use for the benefit of the community as soon as possible. We worked with local groups and the wider community to develop a vision and business case, exploring the management options for the Old Barn. In addition, we supported the Council hold two public meetings to consult on their plans and understand community views. A report was developed for the Council and future managing organisation looking at different occupancy scenarios, the sustainability of each, as well as making recommendations around the future management options. Our work has become a model for Barnet in the contexts of its Community Assets and Leadership strategies. We are currently supporting Barnet with the planned knock down and rebuild of the Old Barn over the coming 12 months.