Fitzherbert Community Hub is home to four community projects based in the heart of Brighton’s Kemptown: Brighton Table Tennis Club, The Real Junk Food Project Brighton, Voices in Exile and the Catholic Parish of East Brighton.
It’s situated in a run-down, under-used church hall at St John the Baptist church which is now being rebuilt and refurbished to create an eco-friendly community centre which will welcome everyone in the neighbourhood.
Early in 2018, The Real Junk Food Project started a pop-up cafe one day a week in the Parish hall creating lunches using surplus food to prevent it from going to waste. This attracted over sixty people each cafe day.
Payment for food is by donation so those who can not afford it can still eat and those who have a bit more can ‘pay forward’ to help feed others. Pay As You Feel is our Community Care Model allowing everyone access to healthy food, opportunities for learning new skills and being part of an environmental movement.
When the Brighton Table Tennis Club closed at the start of the start of the covid pandemic, the club ran a food bank out of the hall and the Junk Food Project supplied takeaway meals on two days each week. The parishioners from St John the Baptist & St Joseph’s extended the food bank to Sundays and this attracts between 60-80 people each week. During the building works, the food bank will continue from within the St John the Baptist Church.
Building on the popularity of the café, work started in earnest to put together plans and gain funding to extend and improve the space to make it a permanent community hub.
What Do People Say?
We’ve conducted three surveys with people who eat at the parish hall café. 85% of those surveyed said it was important that the café contributed towards reducing food waste and helping the environment. Two thirds of café users said that if the café were to open more regularly they would use it at least once a week. We also asked people in the local flats to complete a survey and invited them to share their opinions in person at two group meetings. We’ve spoken to residents associations too so that we can reach more people to understand their wants and needs.
They told us that they want a space to meet and an affordable cafe is something they felt they would use a lot. We asked people to select the benefits important to them.
Using surplus food to prepare meals – 85%
Coming together with the community – 75%
Getting a good healthy meal – 75%
Meeting and connecting with people 63%
Meetings and surveys highlighted the main environmental concerns for locals as well as food waste were:
lack of green space
litter including plastics going into the sea
pollution from traffic
We talked to the community about developing green spaces and growing herbs, fruit and veg and more plants and the Brighton Table Tennis Club has made a start on ‘greening’ the space adjacent to the hall. There are lots of people who are keen to volunteer to help with this.
We’ve connected with fellow community gardens locally to learn from their experience. Many volunteered to help with the gardening plus litter picking to keep the areas clean.
Why Do We Need Funds?
The Parish has spearheaded the drive to secure funding for the building work but what will make this a fully functioning café and inviting community space is kitchen equipment, tables, chairs, crockery and cutlery.
Furniture. We want to commission the charity Making It Out to design and build colourful, stackable tables and supply chairs and other joinery items. Procuring these items from Making It Out means a donation to Fitzherbert Community Hub will also benefit a social enterprise which shares our values.
Tables and chairs for eating out doors in the courtyard.
Table tennis table and equipment for use outdoors in the courtyard
Essential kitchen equipment to include barista coffee-making equipment and coffee grinder. Apart from making cups of coffee, this will be used to train young people in barista skills which will help them obtain work.
Crockery and cutlery
What will it be used for?
Based on our experience of working together, the four partners in the Fitzherbert Community Hub aim to reduce food poverty and social isolation in our community by bringing people together to share food and friendship and be healthier and more active.
When the refurbishment of the building is completed we will have a fantastic community space. The Real Junk Food Project will operate a five-days-a-week café which will use surplus food donated by supermarkets and other food businesses. But it won’t just be a café.
Brighton Table Tennis Club will encourage people to be more active and try table tennis on an outdoor table in the courtyard in the summer as well as at sessions in the club which will be accessed directly from the FCH.
As well as table tennis, there will be lots of other ways to be more active: volunteering in the community gardens and growing projects as well as classes in the main hall which will be anything from tea dances to tai chi.
For Voices In Exile, the hub will provide a safe and welcoming space for their service users to build a sense of belonging and community, while providing free/affordable meals. The hub will facilitate a place for future groupwork activities and gatherings for our peer-support groups, Migrant Welcome Project and Green Spaces.
Junk Food Project will offer training in kitchen skills to our volunteers to help them to get into the workplace.
We will provide volunteering opportunities for young people with special needs, people who are isolated and want a community activity, people referred to us from local GPs and other social prescribers
We will run courses in all aspects of food preservation and other techniques to reduce food waste
We will support local growing to provide herbs and vegetables for the kitchen as well as providing an enriching community activity
We will promote composting so our own waste is recycled to plough back into our own growing
We will encourage grass-roots music and theatre, and have events generated by the local community
Growing, distributing, and packaging food uses a great deal of energy and resource that the planet cannot afford to waste. Huge amounts of food finds its way into Brighton and Hove Council’s bins with over half of this deemed avoidable.
The partners in the Fitzherbert Community Hub will work with our local community to encourage people to reduce their own food waste and demonstrate the ways shopping and cooking can be both cost effective and good for the planet.
We are installing an Air Source Heat Pump – a low-carbon, highly efficient source of heating and hot water.
Fitzherbert Community Hub is a collaboration between Brighton Table Tennis Club, The Real Junk Food Project Brighton, Voices in Exile and the Catholic Parish of East Brighton. The fund and the hub premises are under the auspices of the Catholic Parish of East Brighton, part of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton | Arundel & Brighton Diocesan Trust registered charity 252878
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