a non-profit charitable Company Limited by Guarantee

about us

Charis foundation is a non-profit charitable Company Limited by Guarantee, serving the community of Fife and beyond since 1991, through three distinct projects in the provision of:

• Professional counselling to anyone in need, regardless of social status, age, religious or philosophical belief, etc
• The design and delivery of all levels of training for those involved in counselling and the caring professions
• Christian retreats for individuals or small groups and one-to-one spiritual direction/faith accompaniment

Before you leave this page, you might like to know more about us, who we are and the amazing story of how our community helped to purchase and transform a run down and derelict building into a beautiful and RIBA award winning built space, designed for the end-user. If so, please go to ‘our history’ and ‘RIBA Award’ pages.

our history

The vision to provide a free counselling service, and affordable and accessible training and retreat service for the community of Fife and beyond was fulfilled in the realisation of the charitable trust established in 1991. From the very beginning we have experienced many lovely expressions of prayerful and practical support which has helped to establish, maintain and develop the work of Charis over the years.

our history

A significant part of unfolding of the vision was the purchase of a derelict property at 232 High Street, Leslie, on 1 May 1993. With no money in the bank and a clause in our Trust document stating that we would never borrow money, we took a step of faith and met with our solicitor. In representing us he sought assurance we had the financial means to complete the purchase or at least be prepared to take out a mortgage. When we explained why we didn’t and couldn’t give this assurance, we were amazed to hear him agree to submit the offer of £5,000 on our behalf. Imagine our surprise when 15 minutes later he telephoned to say our offer had been accepted. It was much later we discovered our offer was 20% of the previous purchase price when the building was sold 6 months earlier.

our history

The architect, surveyor and so many others gifted their time and skills throughout the renovation, with many local suppliers gifting materials. All of these gifts combined to create a beautiful built space, winning the Royal Institute of British Architect’s Award for the Community Section in Scotland (1999). See the drop-down menu if you would like to read more about this.

In March 2007 we moved from Charitable Trust status (Fife Christian Counselling Centre) to become Charis foundation, a Company Limited by Guarantee.

Moving up to date… generosity of giving has always been at the heart of the work of Charis, continuing today with administration, counselling, training and retreat team members gifting of their time and expertise. However, in response to the challenge of maintaining a free counselling service, it has been necessary to introduce a voluntary donations scheme, starting in January 2023. Please see the donations page for more information as to how this will work. As a faith work, we remain prayerfully dependent on the Lord’s provision and seek to live by Hudson Taylor’s maxim:

‘God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.’

Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award (2003)

On 12 May 2003 Charis foundation (formerly Fife Christian Counselling Centre) received a letter from the office of Her Majesty the Queen to say that we had won the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award 2003 for services to the community.

The Queen’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, said of the service…

One of the most precious things that I have been impressed with by this organisation is that they seek excellence – everything is of the highest standard. They trust the Lord to provide the very best and to work through them and He does!

Members are to be congratulated for the high quality of skills they offer so generously for the benefit of others. FCCC beat very stiff opposition to win and I hope this award will give added recognition to those who so generously give of time and energy in the service of others.

Mrs Margaret Dean, Lord Lieutenant of Fife

Royal Institute of British Architect’s Award (1999)

Early in 1993 we commissioned architect James Bryson to design a building that would (we hoped) communicate our Christian, and counselling, values of safety, respect, hope, peace and a sense of belonging for the end user. Having never worked with an architect before we assumed James would want to know the size and number of rooms we required. However, we were awakened to a very different approach when James based his design on the answer to the only two questions he asked: ‘Where will your clients come from’ and ‘What kind of problems will you be working with’. He said… ‘I want to use my expertise and experience in working with people to make buildings which serve their functional, spiritual and emotional needs. I want to work with people who want beautiful and sustainable environments.’

Royal Institute of British Architect’s Award (1999)

Whilst we loved our building, and were already aware of the influence and potential impact it had on clients, team members and visitors, we were nonetheless very surprised in May 1999 to receive a letter from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland to let us know we had been short-listed for one of the Royal Institute of British Architect’s Awards for Architecture. After several visits from judges and a lay assessor we were thrilled to receive a letter from the RIBA Awards Office in London to say we were to receive a RIBA Award for Architecture.

The RIBA Awards judges said of the building:

‘The reality is the best possible example of the difference between architecture and building… We were spellbound by the interior, with words such as stunning, breathtaking and spiritual being used in our discussions…

If ever a project was needed to demonstrate the power and potential of architecture, this is it.  Both the architects and the lay assessor felt that it had redefined for them their understanding of architecture.  Literally, it has to be seen to be believed.’

Chairman of the RIBA judges quoted in ‘Scotland on Sunday’ in November 1999…

‘The power and strength overawed all of us.  The building really emphasises the positive benefits of progressive architecture.  It did not involve large amounts of money and did not involve grandiose schemes…’

Charis Foundation
232 High Street