Tomorrow heralds the first session of the first project for Vox Liminis! We’re about to embark on a 12 week choir project in Barlinnie – Vox Bar-L. Hats off to Governor Derek McGill for his vision, and willingness to trust us to pull this off! So today I write with a mixture of excitement and healthy nerves!
The past 3 months have held a most interesting mix of inspiring vision and creativity, combined with the navigation of systems and processes which were certainly not born out of vision and creativity! Who knew how hard it was to quickly set up an organisation with charitable status?
We got off to a flying start, agreeing the Barlinnie choir project in a matter of weeks, and quickly realised that we were going to need to start trading before the time it would take for OSCR to consider an application to become a new charity. So we got set up as a Company Limited by Guarantee (that was the easy bit, marred only by a few Royal Mail failures). We couldn’t get a bank account until we were a company, and then the bank’s promises of a week turnaround and no bank administration charges quickly became fallacy when they ceased answering my questions in silos, and realised we needed 2-person authority on transactions, online banking and the free administration all at the same time!
Simultaneously we set about trying to register with CRBS to be able to do police record checks with folks working on Vox Liminis projects. Blindly ignoring the part that asked for bank account details on the application form, after a few false starts over what we were allowed to do, and with the patience of a persevering colleague, they were incredibly helpful. Getting insurance was probably the easiest part of the process, with able guidance from Keegan and Pennykidd.
So now it’s fingers crossed that OSCR will let us register as a charity without any changes to what we’ve already done… And then we can apply for grants, most of which you need charitable status for.
It’s taken far longer than I’d thought it should, with lots of parts of the process not able to be started until another bit has been completed. It’s also been made all the more interesting by Vox Liminis appointing someone with convictions to the Board, believing firmly in the need for lived experience to shape what emerges. Try attempting to do all of the above with someone with convictions involved? It’s been an enlightening journey into how hard it can be for someone who has paid for their past offences to perform fairly normal roles in our society.
Normal roles like being in a choir?! Ok… That’s not very normal.
But it’s a potentially ceiling-shattering thing. To quote a prisoner following a performance of a previous prison choir project I was involved in ‘This has made me realise that you can really do anything if you want to!’.
Here’s to that realisation.