Helping hand for The Activity Den | 21 November 08

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has been doing its bit to help improve community facilities in County Durham.

The Newcastle-based firm has advised The Activity Den at Tanfield Lea, near Stanley, on a series of issues including its incorporation as a charity, leasehold arrangements for the charity’s building and general commercial matters.

The Activity Den is based at a former Victorian school at Tanfield Lea which has been adapted to provide a base for a wide range of activities for children and young people in the area.

Each week, between 150 and 200 young people use the den for activities including art projects, Rock the Den (a music club), The Woodcraft Folk, martial arts, and events, such as Halloween discos.

They also put on training courses for the 30 or so volunteers who work with the children and young people.

The Activity Den has also been featured on the BBC’s Politics Show.

The centre celebrates its first anniversary this year and Den Secretary, Steve Grey, says that Ward Hadaway’s help via the Business In The Community programme has proved invaluable.

Mr Grey said: “We have been working with Ward Hadaway for a number of years and they have been a fantastic help to us.

“They have given us help and advice on a whole range of legal matters and all on a pro-bono basis.

“They have been particularly helpful on negotiating the terms of the lease on the building itself.”

An agreement has been reached between the building owner – Durham County Council – and The Activity Den that if the organisation raises enough money to ensure the sustainability of the project, they will be granted a lease on the building.

The Den Board, who are made up of local volunteers, are looking to raise up to £97,500 to carry out the refurbishment needed and have placed bids with a range of different funders to try and secure the building.

Volunteers of the organisation have already raised £7,000 themselves which will help towards the capital costs.

Chontelle Wright, assistant solicitor in the commercial law team at Ward Hadaway, provided commercial advice to The Activity Den and assisted with the Den’s first Annual General Meeting, held this autumn.

Andrew Barnes, associate in the commercial law team, helped the organisation with its incorporation as a charity while Keith Wilkinson and Roya Talai from Ward Hadaway’s property team provided property and lease advice.

Chontelle Wright said: “The Activity Den is doing terrific work for the local community and is a vital resource for children and young people in the area so it was a pleasure to get involved and help out.

“We wish them all the best with their fund-raising efforts and will be on hand to assist them in the future.”

* For more information on Ward Hadaway's work in the community, please click here.