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Commission publishes inquiry report into Growth for Adolescents and Providing Support

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has today published an inquiry report into Lurgan charity, Growth for Adolescents and Providing Support (GAPS NI). You can read the full statement of the results of the inquiry online here.

GAPS NI, based at Centrepoint leisure complex in Lurgan, was registered by the Commission in September 2016. It has objects which include promoting the fostering of positive mental health and improving the emotional wellbeing of young people/adolescents.

Concerns in relation to the charity’s funds were first raised with the Commission in March 2017, including allegations regarding misappropriation of monies, inappropriate private benefit and a lack of transparency regarding the sources of funds.

The Commission initially opened a regulatory case to investigate the allegations. However, the conduct of charity trustees in their submissions, mismanagement of the charity and lack of co-operation demonstrated sufficient risk for the Commission to act using its most serious powers.

As a result, on 26 June 2017, the Commission’s investigation was escalated to statutory inquiry, the highest form of investigation open to the Commission.

Through this inquiry the Commission found a number of issues and risks to the charity, including:

  • documents and details supplied to the Commission were fraudulent
  • at least £51,359 of cash noted as received by the charity cannot be traced through the charity’s accounts (this loss to the charity has been reported to the police)
  • documents supplied to other funders were fraudulent, including documents submitted in 2017 under the name of a former charity trustee who had died in 2016
  • charity trustees failed to maintain accurate records of meetings or decisions of the charity
  • charity trustees failed to demonstrate proper financial control
  • no activities by the charity were evidenced by the Commission as furthering the charity’s purposes. 

Given the seriousness of the issues, the Commission was quick to act. This included suspending and then removing a named trustee, suspending another trustee who subsequently resigned, restricting the charity’s financial transactions and appointing an Interim Manager (Deloitte (NI) Ltd) to manage the property and affairs of the charity.

On analyzing the charity’s affairs, the Interim Manager found that due to a lack of assets, the charity was not in a position to continue as a going concern and should be closed.

The only remaining assets of the charity were five children’s bikes and associated equipment for Balanceability training. The bikes were funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which agreed they could be donated to another charity offering Balanceability classes.

GAPS NI has now been closed, with the bikes distributed to another charity. It will be removed from the register of charities in due course.

Myles McKeown, the Commission’s Head of Enquiries and Compliance, said: “Northern Ireland’s charities enjoy a great deal of public trust and confidence – something which should not be taken lightly.

“All charities should be operating in good governance, which includes keeping good records, financial safeguarding and acting in an open and transparent manner. If you have a concern about a charity, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek assurances from the charity itself in the first instance.

“However, it’s important to note that this case is not representative of the many well governed charities in Northern Ireland who deliver an excellent service to their beneficiaries.”

The inquiry closed on 28 February 2018.

Ends

For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Commission Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169 or email: shirley.kernan@charitycommissionni.org.uk

Notes to editors

1. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland.

2. The Commission has a statutory function, as detailed within section 8(2)3 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 to identify and investigate apparent misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of charities, and to take remedial or protective action.

3. Section 22 of the Charities Act 2008 gives the Commission the power to institute inquiries, with the opening of an inquiry giving the commission access to a range of protective and remedial powers.

4. While there may be ongoing litigation or investigations by other statutory bodies relating to actions or individuals in this case, the statutory inquiry has now been closed as the charities are themselves closed.