Our achievements 2016-17

Helping small groups make a big difference

The Resource Centre is used by hundreds of groups every year. On our Detailed Usage Figures page, you’ll find all the facts and figures. On this page, we have put together five mini case studies to show the importance of the work our user groups do, and how we help them make a difference. First, a few headline achievements from the last year:

Hundreds of users, thousands of uses

The main headline this year, as always, is the huge number of groups who used us – 892 in all – and the massive number of visits they made – 2,960. This is more than 50 visits to use our services every week.

Meeting our priorities, serving small groups

Our 2016 survey showed that:

  • 83% of the Centre’s user groups are run mainly by volunteers
  • 57% of groups have fewer than ten people regularly attending their organising meetings
  • 56% of user groups had not received support from any other local agency in the past year.
  • 85% agree that the Resource Centre is the only place they can get the equipment they need.

Helping groups raise the funds they need

A large part of the intensive support we give is to help groups raise money to carry out their activities. We supported 14 different priority groups with funding applications this year—all were groups run by and for people in the most disadvantaged communities in the city.

We were really pleased that 80% of the groups we worked with received some of the money they needed and that 70% of the applications we helped write were entirely successful. Overall we helped groups raise £92,302 of which £68,719 came from sources outside the city.

The Level Communities Forum – Making connections while the kids play

The Level Communities Forum brings together local residents, park users, community groups and businesses to celebrate and make the most of The Level, Brighton’s central park.

The group organises family-focused creative events throughout the year, as a key way of bringing people together to enjoy and look after the park.

In August 2016, they organised free play days for local children, making use of the Resource Centre’s range of giant games to help the events go with a swing.

Maureen Winder, the Chair and one of the group’s volunteer organisers, said “It’s hard for families to find free things to do with their children during the summer holidays. Our Play Days allowed parents to relax and play with their children using a range of exciting giant games and toys to explore. We like organising simple events like this, to show that the Level is a space for everyone to share.”

Invisible Voices – A sense of purpose through creativity

Invisible Voices was set up in January 2016 by a group of friends who wanted to raise awareness and funds to support homeless people in Brighton & Hove. After talking to some organisations who provide services to homeless people, they decided to reach a wide audience by participating in the Brighton Fringe Festival. They created a book and photographic exhibition, telling the stories of people who are moving on from homelessness. Their second exhibition grew out of sustained work with a photography group based at Cascade Recovery Café, where they have seen directly the value of creativity in providing a sense of purpose and achievement for people in recovery.

They have used the Centre’s online information and find it extremely useful to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of the Centre’s staff team. They are learning as they go along, and have had to solve a lot of practical problems quickly – they need to be able to pick up the phone and ask a question, rather than waiting for a scheduled training course. Janet said: “We love coming to the Resource Centre because you know you are going to get the help you need.”

Brighton & Hove First Ladies – growing through self-reliance

Brighton & Hove First Ladies is a group of African women, who aim to raise awareness of issues affecting women and girls, such as FGM and domestic violence. As they point out “As African women, we face particular issues, and other services don’t always meet our needs so well. We are designing our own support ourselves, because we know best what we need and what works for women like us.”

During the year we helped them to write a constitution and to open a bank account. We offered practical information about how they could realise their plans to expand the group beyond informally meeting in members’ homes. We also supported them to apply for grants and prepare budgets.

Coldean Residents Association – A voice for the local community

Sue from Coldean Residents’ Association comes to the Centre every three months with newsletter articles she has collected from the local youth club, church, school, city councillors and old people’s home. She works with a member of staff to decide the order of the articles, the front page story and how to cover current issues in the community.

Resource Centre staff then design the 12 page newsletter and send a copy to Sue to check. Once approved, the Centre prints, folds and collates the newsletter, ready for door-to-door distribution in Coldean. Local residents tell Sue the newsletter helps them feel part of a community.

Brighton Pebbles – A fast-growing group where families support each other

Sally from Brighton Pebbles has been bringing in the group’s accounts to be examined since the group was set up in 2008. They are a parent-run group which organises activities and mutual support for families with disabled children.

Their income has grown rapidly from around £3,000 in 2009 to around £35,000 in 2016, and they have now registered as a CIO. They have to account for grants from multiple funders in each year.

The accounts examination in 2016 revealed that the group’s accounting system was not complex enough to keep track of their expanding activities, and we arranged a session with Sally to set up the Resource Centre’s flexible grant tracker spreadsheet to match the specific needs of the group.