Centre of Excellence Programme FAQs

Why have LLST introduced the Centres of Excellence Scheme?

Instead of filling in lengthy forms, and convincing us of the need for free legal advice (which we are very committed to already!) we really want to know how your organisation is running, what kind of situation it is in, and how we can help support you to improve and be as stable as possible. We want to be aware of your strengths, any potential issues as early as possible and most importantly we want to help you gain sufficient overview to see how you want to take things forward.

What are the benefits to the scheme?

Through the CoEx programme, LLST are offering the support of a day or more of management consultancy and planning assistance, provided by experienced and knowledgeable people in the free legal advice sector. Numerous unexpected benefits come from participation in the scheme and opportunities to improve your organisation.

Is this another quality mark?

No. The LLST Centres of Excellence scheme is a funding and support mechanism that LLST uses to direct the funds it has raised to the places where they will be used with greatest effect. It is not intended to duplicate or replace any other quality mark.

Is this just a funding application?

No. It is a system of support as well as potential funding. Because LLST raise their own funds each year, no amount of funding is guaranteed at any time. To date, LLST have provided a core funding grant once an organisation has undertaken the MOT and is engaged with the process. We have then provided further core funding to Centres that have reached a pass in November/December time each year following completion of an annual review questionnaire.   

What does the Centres of Excellence MOT look at?

The first stage in becoming a Centre of Excellence is to undertake the LLST MOT and that has three core areas:

 

  • How the organisation is being run (focusing on management and governance, business planning and strategy, financial management, funding (fundraising and earned income), staffing, quality and compliance
  • A brief file review considering process and compliance
  • A review of expenditure, and whether money could be saved / effectiveness increased

 

A report is then produced, highlighting areas where support would be beneficial. LLST then meet with the organisation to try and see how those can be addressed. This may result in some work with other organisations in the scheme as well as direct assistance. There is also the possibility of initial core funding at this stage.

Is the outcome a pass / fail result?

No. Organisations that are eligible will continue to be supported by LLST to help them become more sustainable, effective and efficient. This is a process, not a simple pass / fail system.

Do you expect the same standard from a large organisation as a small one?

No. Our expectations in each of the areas above are proportional to the size of the organisation and its remit.

Does being part of the scheme impact how I can get support from LLST?

Your ability to fundraise through LLST events 100% for your own not for profit legal advice service and/or apply for a small grant via the small grants programme is unchanged by being an applicant to the Centres of Excellence Scheme. Organisations who are passed as a Centre of Excellence receive preference in the small grants assessments.

Once my organisation has passed, what is next?

Every year in November/December time, you will be asked to complete an annual review self assessment questionnaire to help LLST understand any major changes, what challenges you are facing in the next twelve months, and whether any particular needs for support have arisen. We will then award an unrestricted grant for core costs. As we raise all our own funds each year, we cannot guarantee an amount for this.

Evidently, the more organisations we have involved the further our limited funds have to stretch but we believe the support we provide is as much, if not more, valuable than the funds. That being said, we are continuously working hard to raise more funds for the grants pot.

My organisation passed, but we have had a change in management - what happens now?

We assume that things remain as they were for the first 3-6 months of the new manager being in post, and you will be eligible for CoEx funding for that year during that time (paid in Nov/Dec of each calendar year). We would expect you to get in touch however and introduce us to the new manager - they will then need to undertake the MOT assessment after 3-6 months in post (time length dependent on the situation).

My organisation did not pass a few months ago, what happens now?

Periodically, LLST will get in touch to find out what has happened to date, how any support brought in has helped and whether a further visit, phone call or assessment would be useful. The aim is to eventually help you reach pass status however some of the changes that might be needed can take some time.

 
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