An update on our group

Back before the pandemic started, we began the application to become a Community Interest Company (CIC) in the hope that when we complete the Big Park Project (BPP), we might be able to work on new projects. We thought the process would take a little while and by the time it was official, we would hopefully have a programme of fundraising for the BPP well underway or the order for the equipment might even have been placed!

Unfortunately, one month after we began the process we had to cancel most of our events, grant applications were put on hold and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get any of the project done.

During the summer, we heard our application to become a CIC was successful, which was much quicker than we thought! However, it wasn’t a straightforward instant transition from a community fundraising group to CIC. There are a few reasons for this:

1. An unfortunate typo from Companies House calling us Goggeshall Recreation Group instead of Coggeshall Recreation Group!
2. The bank account we have is a community bank account, not a CIC bank account
3. Our existing constitution has not yet changed and remains focused solely on the BPP

On the first point, given the speed at which our application was granted, correcting the typo has taken much longer than expected – longer than the initial application took! It was finally addressed this month (January 2021) so that overcomes this problem.

Secondly, our existing bank account is a simple community bank account. We want to change this to be an account suitable for CICs. We are trying to follow the process of changing our group carefully as we are fundraising for large amounts of money and want to do this correctly. Furthermore, we have a close relationship with Coggeshall Parish Council and want them to be reassured of how we are working. Unfortunately, we have been told by our existing bank as well as other banks that we cannot open a new CIC bank account at this point due to the workload they have as a result of the pandemic.

Finally, we adopted a constitution back in September 2019 and we still use this to guide our group’s work and as a set of rules for us to follow. In our application to become a CIC we did set out how we would operate, but that was meant to be for when the BPP was complete. However, the BPP is not yet finished and we have not, therefore, changed our constitution. Our current constitution states that our aim is “to raise funds for the redevelopment of the children’s play area on Coggeshall Recreation Ground (“The Big Park”) for the benefit of the residents of Coggeshall and the surrounding area.” Given this aim is not yet complete, we don’t want our commitment to this to be diminished.

While we can start planning for what comes next, if we were to change this constitution and start working on new projects, then there is a chance our focus could be split and it would take even longer to finish the BPP. Most of our group is currently balancing homeschooling with working – trying to find time to come up with creative fundraising ideas during a lockdown or search for grant applications that haven’t been paused takes time. We don’t think it is fair for the community or our group to do anything that would affect the completion of the project. Hopefully, we will be able to raise the final amount for phase 2 within the coming months, and then as a group we can start thinking about what to do next. The Big Park Project has been going on for over five years so we are excited about our next challenge!