Brighton community hub closes

Posted On 30 Apr 2018 at 8:03 pm

The Bridge adult education centre and community hub has closed for financial reasons.

The charity, on the site of the old Falmer High School, has for almost 20 years been a route back to work and an advice centre for many people, particularly in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.

The Bridge

It has helped adults who missed out on learning basic reading and writing skills when they were children – and it has helped migrants learn English and to integrate better.

Executive director Sofie Franzen said: “We’re devastated and bereft that we can’t offer our service to the public.”

External funding from the lottery and a charitable foundation ran out with the possibility of being renewed.

The closure is costing 16 staff, mostly part-timers, their jobs. A few of them are working during a winding up period with organisations such as Brighton and Hove City Council to try to ensure the most vital help is continued in some shape or form.

The trustees issued a statement. It said: “It is with great regret that we have to inform you that the Bridge is to close for financial sustainability reasons.

“Several major steps have been taken over the past year and a half to make the charity resilient in an increasingly austere economic environment.

“We have revised and reduced our overhead base, invested in fundraising and commercial capacity, developed our trading subsidiary into a contributing asset and formed a range of partnerships with both public and third sector bodies which has significantly elevated our reputational standing within the sector and enhanced the quality of our work.

“Indeed, the current board of trustees turned a significant loss two years ago into a surplus the following year.

“From January this year, our Information, Advice and Guidance Service (IAG), which is a core aspect of our work, has been increasingly unsupported by grant income and has been kept in operation through our unrestricted income streams.

“This has put pressure on our cash reserves to the extent that the directors are no longer able to declare the charity a going concern.

“We are proud of the support that we have provided over the years to the local community.

“Indeed in 2017, 1,100 support sessions were delivered by our advisers and 575 people were supported through our IAG interactions.

“In partnership with further education providers, we provided over 120 courses and learning programmes and delivered over 1,800 learning hours with 800 enrolments.

Sofie Franzen

“Our volunteer-delivered literacy programme addresses needs of adult literacy learners in Brighton and Hove who are not yet ready for engagement with mainstream provision.

“As such the programme bridges a significant gap and provides unique progression pathways.

“In short, we are clear that the Bridge still has an important role to play in the community by continuing to provide a high-quality, agile and genuine response to those with significant barriers to engaging in mainstream services.

“We are thankful to our partners and funders for the support that you have offered the Bridge over the years and treasure the trust you have put in our services’ ability to meet the current needs of our local communities.

“It is with great sadness that we are unable to sustain the centre’s operations.”

Nick Handley

Nick Handley, chair of trustees, said: “It is disheartening to be caught in the midst of the effects of this wider climate of financial austerity like so many other smaller charities across the country.

“The Bridge has made all the right moves over several years in order to secure its operations.

“We have innovated, we have diversified our funding streams and we have invested in growth.

“My thoughts are with the many members of the community who are now going to be without the support of the Bridge and the staff who can be proud of their great legacy.”

Sofie Franzen said: “I feel immensely privileged to have been part of the services and support that the Bridge has provided to our local communities and to have worked with such a resourceful and talented group of people.

“The team and I are greatly concerned that the closure and transition happens with the most minimal impact and inconvenience to our regular beneficiaries.

“We therefore urge all of our partners and other support services to reach out so that collectively we can do the best we can to ensure continued support of our participants.”

  1. Dawn Wyatt Reply

    It’s very sad to hear. I think the biggest problem was moving it so far back from original site. Most of the low income users don’t have the use of a car and anyone with any limited mobility issues would have found that walk up the drive all uphill from the bus stop or train station a real struggle or impossible.

  2. Frances Lindsay-Hills Reply

    If the problems had been flagged up earlier the community who use the Bridge may have been able to help. A very sad loss to users, to
    many of whom it was a life line.

  3. Fr John Wall Reply

    While I was Rector of Moulsecoomb I saw at first hand the valuable work the Bridge undertook for its wider community: I am hugely sorry to see it go. A real loss.

  4. Karen Mallett Reply

    They should of put in for peoples project

  5. Christian Holder Reply

    Hi my name is Christian holder am trying to sett up a community hub for people with learning disabilities here in Brighton and Hove we need are own base to go to during the day because there is nothing in Brighton and Hove

  6. Karen Lucas Reply

    Who owns the building and land, is there a plan now?

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