Keyholders The number of sets of keys should be kept to a minimum for security reasons. It’s good practice for the management committee to monitor and assess whether the number of sets available can be reduced.
Contact numbers for management committee. Make sure that these are up to date and displayed in the office.
Procedures and contact information for fire and intruder alarms. All staff, volunteers and keyholders need to be trained in dealing with the event of an alarm sounding. Training should cover the location of alarms, emergency exits, fire assembly points and fire extinguishers. Any alarm that goes off should be considered as genuine. An up to date procedure should be retained in the office, including contact information for the alarm company.
Waste disposal. The recycling of waste can be encouraged in a number of ways:
By using public facilities for the recycling of paper, glass, cans etc
By arranging for the local authority or a private contractor to make regular collections of recyclable material
By collecting goods for local charity shops or for charities which export used goods Local authorities or private contractors will collect refuse that cannot be recycled. Know when the collection date is and who the collector is. It may be possible for charities to negotiate free collection or a preferential charge from the local authority.
Utilities. The management committee should regularly check for the best value for utilities, including gas, electricity, water, telephone and broadband. Both efficiency and sensible economy in the use of energy resources is vital in keeping costs to a minimum. This can be achieved by auditing existing usage and setting targets for improvement.
Health and safety and risk assessments. Health and safety in a community centre concerns the welfare of staff, volunteers, users and the general public. Everything possible should be done to prevent avoidable accidents and protect people from getting hurt. The Health and Safety at Work act of 1974 sets out the necessary legal requirements. As well as having an up to date Health and Safety policy incorporating first aid, fire precautions, equipment and dangerous substances, a risk assessment should be carried out for all areas of the building (the process of considering potential hazards and how to minimise associated risks). Examples of Health and Safety policies and risk assessments can be found on the website of the Resource Centre. http://www.resourcecentre.org.uk/
Furniture, fittings and equipment In obtaining furniture and equipment, several principles need to be borne in mind:
Comfort and attractiveness of appearance
Durability and suitability for heavy usage
Ease of movement, lifting, storage etc
Ease of maintenance, including repair or replacement following breakages
Kitchen and electrical equipment must conform to the relevant regulations
Cleaning Good cleaning practices in a community building are essential for health and hygiene reasons and for comfort and presentation purposes. Cleaning can be performed by paid staff or volunteers or by employing outside cleaning companies. Key elements in managing the cleaning process include detailing the tasks to be performed and scheduling them, acquiring appropriate equipment and careful supervision and management of cleaning staff.
Leases Community organisations occupy property under a range of tenure and access arrangements. The three basic ways of holding a property are freehold, leasehold and a licence to occupy. Make sure you understand the length and terms of your lease.
Licences Management committees are responsible for the activities that take place within their community centres. Some activities require certain licences to be in place, e.g. PRS (Performing Rights Society for Music) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd). For most licenses, including community premises and public entertainment, it will be necessary to contact the Licensing Team at the council.
Banking/accounts Several types of business bank accounts are available to community centres. It’s worth investigating various banks to find the most suitable current and deposit accounts. Payments are best made through standing orders and direct debits, but it is essential to ensure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover the withdrawals as they become due. Most cheques will require two signatories, so it is advisable to have at least three signatories registered.
Insurance Appropriate insurance is essential for all community centres. In some instances, insurance is required by law. Otherwise it may be necessary to avoid the risk of loss of valuable assets. Employer’s liability, public liability and building insurance are all likely to be needed.
Hiring out space Whether or not to hire out space to a particular group is usually up to the discretion of the centre manager. In some instances, such as for renting space to a religious group or political party, the decision may need to be made by the management committee. For user-led centres, a meeting amongst the current users might be necessary to decide if the group wishing to hire space is suitable for the centre.