Community support

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Description

Exeter Street Hall is our very own Village Hall. It lies at the heart of an urban neighbourhood near the centre of Brighton. Built originally as a Sunday School over 130 years ago, it eventually became a church hall, until in 2011 when its owners put it on the open market. What if it disappeared? Where would the playgroup, where local children and parents made friends for life, meet now? Where would the Boys Brigade go, after using the hall for over 100 years? What about the Brownies? And where could we mark our children’s birthdays? In vibrant, hopeful meetings in our local pub a group of local residents realised we had to save the hall and realised how much more we could do if we owned and ran the hall ourselves. So we started by doing a survey of 2000 residents who told us they wanted the hall to stay in our community.
Finally, after our volunteers knocked on literally every door in our neighbourhood, and beyond, 832 local residents bought £162,000 of community shares in The Hall Get Involved (THGI)*, and we bought Exeter Street Hall. We won city-wide and even national recognition for our campaign.
Over 30 active volunteers now organise events and activities seven days a week. We have a Management Committee and a paid part-time Hall Manager. The weekly parent-led playgroup have a permanent home. We run a 'Tea Club' for senior residents; a monthly children’s 'Film Club' (picture 80 kids singing 'Let It Go' at the tops of their voices); a Job Club offering free advice. We stage mouth-watering meals, foot-tapping ceilidhs, poetry readings, hustings, food markets, and legendary Halloween parties. We rent our hall to other groups and local families at affordable rates, and of course the Boys Brigade and Brownies still have a home. It feels like every week we find a new use for our Hall. See www.exeterstreethall.org
But we have a big problem. Our lovely large main hall seats over 100 people. It’s fabulous for a party or a film, but for our smaller groups it feels a little daunting. We need another, smaller space. And luckily we already have one – our Community Room. But currently it is unusable, as when we bought the Hall it had a major dry rot infestation and chronic damp problems. Volunteers gutted the room, removing and destroying wall plaster, ceilings, wood joists, floor boards, door surrounds and wood panelling, to enable professional treatment of the infestation. The treatment has been done. Now we want and need to completely renovate the room.
This grant will enable us to do this work. We will carry out and complete the work in August 2015 led by our Building Team volunteers, including a professional architect, and employing local tradesmen where necessary. We will insulate, board, and plaster the ceiling; plaster the walls and replace the panelling; rebuild the door-frame and replace the wooden flooring; do electrical work and install heating; and finally paint and decorate the room, at a total cost of £4850.
With a renovated Community Room we will expand the use of our Hall, offer a cosier welcome to our Tea Club, a more fitting meeting room, a more therapeutic environment for our yoga and meditation groups. We can dramatically increase the footfall in the Hall – we estimate an extra 2500 annual uses of the Hall. Multiply that by another 130 years and that’s £4850 well spent!
And we know what we are doing. In 2014 we replaced the Hall roof using a £50,000 National Lottery grant, won through the People's Millions'. As a community we are not only rebuilding our hall physically, but also rebuilding what it has to offer, so that it will remain at the heart of our community for another 130 years.
*The Hall Get Involved Limited, a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act. THGI is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and recognised by HMRC as a charitable company for tax purposes.

Project Video

The Hall Get Involved Ltd

Moment of Pride

People power makes us proud. It’s taken strength, skill and stamina to save a building, run it on a shoestring and plan improvements to widen our reach. More than bricks and mortar, we’ve secured the heart of our community in perpetuity. No one gets left behind. Watch us; we’re just getting started.

Location: Brighton