Law firm helps The Activity Den find a home | 06 October 09

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has helped a County Durham charity to secure a permanent home.

The Newcastle-based firm has advised The Activity Den at Tanfield Lea, near Stanley, on a lease it has signed with Durham County Council to make a former Victorian school at Tanfield Lea into its home for the next 15 years.

The Activity Den has operated from the former school since it was set up in 2007.

The registered charity has adapted the building 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) working with the Sage Gateshead, The Woodcraft Folk, martial arts, events such as Halloween discos and a fully equipped young volunteers centre will soon be in operation.

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

Via the Business In The Community programme, Ward Hadaway has advised The Activity Den on a range of matters over the past two years on a pro-bono basis, including its incorporation as a charity and general commercial matters.

The firm also played a key role in the arrangement between the Den and the building’s owner Durham County Council which paved the way to the new lease being signed.

Den Secretary, Steve Grey, explained: “Ward Hadaway helped us in negotiating an agreement with the council which gave us time to find the £100,000 funding we needed to carry out major repairs on the building.

“In July this year, we were awarded £68,000 from The Coalfields Regeneration Trust and £30,000 from Garfield Weston Foundation to add to the £76,000 our members and supporters have already raised.

“This means we can carry out the repairs to the building and we have now signed an agreement which gives us literally a roof over our heads.

“This means so much to us - we are now in control of our own destiny and we can provide more projects which will really make a difference to the lives of children and young people in the area.

“Ward Hadaway have been an enormous help with this whole process – we couldn’t have done this without their assistance so we are extremely grateful for all the work which they have put in.”

Roya Talai and Keith Wilkinson from Ward Hadaway’s property team provided the property advice and negotiated and completed the lease with Durham County Council.

Keith Wilkinson said: "We’ve seen for ourselves the great work The Activity Den is doing for the local community. It’s a terrific resource.

"We’re very pleased to have been able to reach agreement with the County Council, and look forward to seeing the Den fulfil its plans over the coming years."

Sarah Grey, Chair of The Activity Den, said: “The Activity Den would like to thank everyone for their valued support with their campaign and Durham County Council for giving us the much needed time to find the necessary funds.

“The work will begin in the very near future and once it is completed we will have a massive re-launch party to celebrate this great achievement.”

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