Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) supports communities by helping people and organisations that ‘do good in Leeds’.

The charity provides a range of services to local organisations including payroll, funding support, governance advice, training volunteer management and networks and forums support.

Chris Sawyer, who heads up the finance function at VAL, has been closely supported for many years by Christopher Darwin, a Partner at Thomas Coombs.

Chris explained: “The team at Thomas Coombs take care of our statutory accounts and conduct the audits for the charity and its trading arm, VAL Trading Ltd.

“We know we can always rely on the entire team to ensure everything runs smoothly and that VAL remains compliant. Christopher is very good at reminding us and making sure we don’t miss important dates for the various returns required by Companies House and the Charity Commission.

“The team’s advice was particularly invaluable when, two years ago, the Statement of SORP was applied to charities. As always, Christopher was extremely proactive and helped us get our heads around the ‘nitty gritty’ of the revised reporting criteria.”

Chris is particularly pleased with the manner in which the audit process is undertaken. He continued: “It helps that the team from Thomas Coombs really understand our organisation and always send a team of at least two auditors, including one person who was involved in the previous audit. It provides continuity and means that we’re not starting from scratch – which saves valuable time for all concerned.

“Christopher also makes time to attend the Trustee Board meeting, at which the accounts are signed off, which is appreciated by our board members as it provides an opportunity for questions and answers. Christopher also attends our AGM and does a short presentation to members of the key features of our accounts.

“If I had to sum up our dealings with Thomas Coombs, I would describe them as being ‘reliable’, providing ‘good quality advice’.

“Christopher and the team are there whenever we need them. They keep us updated regularly with their regular charities newsletter which I find useful – and they’re always just a phone call away.”

Chris added: “A couple of years ago Thomas Coombs were required to retender and, such was the high quality of their submission and our overall satisfaction with the service they have provided, that we were delighted to award them the contract to continue as VAL’s accountants.”

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