Recovery and rebuilding: our achievements in 2022-23

During 2022-23, the Resource Centre continued to offer a full range of services to small community groups in Brighton & Hove, gradually rebuilding towards a full return to normal after the disruption of the pandemic.

A total of 545 different groups used our services during the year, making 1817 visits and phone calls to the Centre. We provided:

At the same time, we reviewed all our services, taking into account the results of our 2022 user survey and interviews with residents’ associations, and considering options for securing our future. Following this review, we decided to:

  • Return to fully open-access DIY print services, with the option of Resource Centre staff printing for groups at an extra charge
  • Dedicate additional staff time to the equipment hire service, offering collection and return timeslots throughout the week
  • Continue to focus our attention on groups based in Brighton & Hove and the immediately surrounding areas
  • Seek funding for a partnership project, building on our expertise in community accounting support for groups
  • Take steps to upgrade our booking, invoicing and contact management systems, with the aim of making efficiency gains
  • Further improve our print room equipment
  • Expand our staff team by appointing an additional member of staff

Printing service: more than a print shop

During 2022-23, we gradually reintroduced the option for groups to visit the centre to do their own printing, but the majority of printing was provided on a send-and-collect basis – groups sent in their artwork by email and collected their finished printing at the doorstep when it was ready.

278 groups used the print service during the year, making 1688 uses of our equipment altogether.

Our 2022 survey reaffirmed that groups appreciate the unique combination of support and skilled help provided by our staff when they are printing at the Resource Centre.

Since 2020, we have made significant improvements to the equipment available in the print room. Groups can now produce:

  • vinyl and fabric banners
  • posters up to A0 size
  • laminated material up to A2 size
  • professional looking printed documents with full bleed

We are excited to introduce this equipment to more groups and provide them with access to the additional benefits of doing their printing in a community-focused space, with full control over the process. Using this model, opportunities naturally arise for community activists to discuss the aims and impact of printed material with workers who understand the context and importance of their work.

Equipment hire: shared resources for the city

274 groups made 1177 equipment hire uses during 2022-23:

  • Equipment for Meetings and Indoor Events: 306
  • Fundraising equipment: 611
  • Play equipment: 260

This service is still recovering after a total shutdown during 2020-21, but usage is increasing rapidly.

Some of the changes introduced to enhance Covid safety have improved the service, so we have decided to keep them. In particular, the allocation of specific time slots for the collection and return of equipment. This allows us to prepare the equipment in advance for each group, streamlining the experience of collection and minimising queuing. We are also continuing to provide excellent ventilation and air filtration within the building.

During the year, we added two air purifiers to our stock of equipment for hire, to enable groups to improve air quality at their own indoor events.

We estimate that our equipment hire service helped groups in the city raise over £650,000 for their vital work during the year. This estimate is based on our 2022 survey – we asked groups how much they had raised at their most recent fundraising event and the average amount was just over £3,000.

Information and advice: a steady presence through the crisis

Our online information service provides free, clearly-written guidance for community group organisers. All of our information is developed in response to questions from our user groups, and based on the insight we have gained from years of working with and learning from the experiences of our member groups.

We routinely receive enquiries from organisations all over the country (and around the world) asking to share our resources. We are always happy to oblige, provided we are appropriately credited.

In 2022-23:

  • 1,164 individuals in Brighton and Hove viewed the information pages on our website.
  • Our advice on demand service was used by 80 different groups on a total of 160 occasions.
  • We carried out 233 longer support sessions with 45 different groups. This support covered 42 different topics, with the most frequent enquiries being fundraising, budgeting, reporting to funders, book-keeping, committee roles and bank accounts.
  • As part of the above we supported 22 groups with fundraising applications, budgeting and book-keeping. The total grant income raised as a result of our support was £68,192.
  • We carried out 53 examinations of accounts. We continued to work with groups who needed support to untangle two or more years’ worth of records.

Our advice and support services for member groups have been maintained at a steady level throughout the pandemic, thanks to the dedication and commitment of our staff team and the flexibility and generosity of our funders.

Our interviews with resident association reps illustrated the value of this reliable support for groups who were most severely affected by the pandemic. Our approach was summed up by Theresa (Highcroft Lodge RA):

“You give us the opportunity to have an informal discussion. We can work through an issue or sound out a problem with someone we know and trust. You provide a touch stone and a human resource, not an anonymous voice at the end of a phone.”