Over the past 5 years a Community Group (The Friends of St James' Park - FoSJP) has been working to improve the facilities in a local recreation ground in Southampton. The FoSJP Committee asked Darren to help set up a new non-for-profit Company in September 2010 (ParkLife CIC), and become a Director (and Company Secretary) along with three other FoSJP members.
The café opened in July 2011 after months of exhaustive planning and preparation, and I would like to nominate Darren for the part he played in getting the café open, and his continuing contribution to the project. He has spent many hours working tirelessly towards his goal, and his dedication should be acknowledged.
Darren, along with his fellow Directors, had a lot of problems and issues to contend with in the build up to opening, such as:
? Ensuring the building was fully renovated and available for summer opening, so as not to miss the prime income window.
? Checking Legislation and Tenancy Agreements.
? Health and Safety Policies and concerns
? Advertising posts and drafting employment contracts, interviewing and appointing staff.
? Budgeting and forcasting, made all the more difficult as the café was starting from scratch.
? Sorting out many teething problems.
This meant weekly Board meetings (which frequently went on past 11pm) and a huge amount of researching and preparing for the meetings beforehand.
Since the live date, Darren has taken over the financial planning and control of the café. He looks after the banking on a weekly basis, and is liaising with the newly appointed Café Manager to set up a robust accounting system for the future. He is utilising his specialty skills (Finance) to ensure that the café is a success, and therefore stays open for business and for the community.
The Park, situated near the centre of Southampton, is in a designated "Area of Deprivation" and the Heritage Grant has improved the Community amenities considerably. The café h