2022 Annual General Meeting

2022 Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting to discuss 2022 took place earlier this month. We were pleased to welcome many members of our community to this meeting, it was a really enjoyable and informative evening for all. 

2022 was a whirlwind of a year! Believe it or not it was our first full year of trading after taking over from the previous trustees in 2019.

Café – The café as always is doing great. Zelal works hard to lower costs and get the most out of her team, whilst supporting each individual in their role. We recruited for more staff in the year because of the increase of income.

There are a lot of people that wish to work here with an average of 200 applications for every job role posted for the café. This is because the working atmosphere that is created by the team is amazing to see. They respect, care and support each other which then make the Old Boat a place that people love to come with Zelal being at the heart of that.

Lastly regarding the café we upgraded the furniture in and out, doubling the amount of seating we can provide. This was really needed and loved by the community.

Soft Play and Stay & Play – have grown with three sessions a week which are run by Gill. They are easy, fun and cheap sessions to go to and are busy due to that. We have kept the price the same since we started the sessions but may need to look at increasing the price of the soft play to meet the increase in costs so that we are still breaking even in this area.

Room Rentals – Theresa Salvage (my rock and moral compass) has, as always, exceeded her goals for 2022. She has reconfigured the room rental so that we are able to maximise the space in the building and doubling our room rental income. Theresa has made new connections, is active on social media and gets the most out of every enquiry. She is one of the biggest reasons this place is what it is and we are eternally grateful to her as this is completely in a volunteer capacity. Thank you again Theresa for your hard work, commitment, advice and knowledge.

The rise in income also created a few problems.

VAT – During the year it came to our attention that we were getting very close to the VAT threshold for the Trading Activities for the centre. Our primary purpose, according to our Memorandum and Articles of Association is affordable room rental so the café and soft play are seen as vatable incomes. As of July 2022 we registered and started paying VAT. After looking at ways of covering this expense it was decided not to initially raise the prices in the café but try to cover the cost ourselves as this could price people out of using the services. This has worked but may need to be reassessed during 2023-2024 with the cost of living increasing and our costs dramatically going up.

Grants – The rise in income has also knocked us out of a lot of grants that we have previously been able to apply for. We are a grassroots charity with an income of a medium sized charity. This means that even through we have a high income, we do not make much, if any, profit. We do not charge a lot so people can afford us and we run quite a number of free groups so that there are no barriers for people to access our services.

Currently we are unable to apply for a number of the smaller grants so this has affected additional income that would have supported the smaller free groups. Through all of this we try our hardest to make sure that no-one goes without and try to meet the needs of every person walking through our doors.

Carden Park – The rebuild of Carden Park although a great asset when finished to the centre was hard work and very challenging during the planning and building phase. The previous parks that were revamped in Brighton and Hove were not of great standard and were not well received and we did not want the same thing happening to Carden Park. We managed to have some influence and although stressful, has been worth it with Carden Park becoming a destination playground with lots of families. We do have to note that due to the rebuild, the centre lost approximately £13k in income due to the timing of the rebuild being in the summer holidays. We also spent some additional funds making sure we had an activity library for kids to use on the field that would have nothing else to do while the park was out of action.

Lastly the issues with the toilet facilities was and has not been addressed. While the initial plan was to put in public toilets, we then agreed for our toilets to be refurbished as part of the park revamp so that they would be fit for use when the influx from the new park arrived. This did not happen and we find that we are having to pay for extra maintenance on 30 year old toilets which should have not been the case.

Pantry – The need for the pantry increased with deliveries going from once a week of 200kg of food to twice a week with 600kg of food. We have multiple donations from Co-op and Sainsburys which is picked up by volunteers and the number of contributions from individuals has increased. Local schools and businesses donate to us through schemes and harvest donations. We are not struggling with the pantry but nor are we able to support as much as we have been able to. The amount of people coming to the pantry has increased as well as how much support each individual is needing. People come to us as it is more accessible and open every day. We try to get away from giving out food bags where people have no choice over what they are getting and where they have to queue up. We try to make accessing the food as dignified as possible and I feel that we are achieving this.

We are now able to provide pre-made meals as well for people not able to cook or not able to afford to cook. It has also gone to households that are in emergency accommodation with no cooking facilities so we are grateful that we are able to provide this service to those in need.

New groups – International Women’s group was formed a few weeks ago with Zelal and Tricia heading it up. This group has already in a few weeks got around 15-20 attendees which just shows the need to support international women in our area. The group has been supported with other charities as well as member of the community and we are looking at providing support around language and reading, reducing isolation, help with accessing services an much more.

Youth Project – The youth Project has gone from strength to strength. We have a 3D pen art session with Exploring Senses for 8-13 year olds which has been funded by The Ladies Mile fundraising. We have a free basketball group for 8 years and up with Ann which has been funded by The Healthy Lifestyles Team at Brighton and Hove Council and we have free football sessions provided by Brighton and Hove Albion Foundation which are split into 3 groups – one of them being for girls only. These three groups combined bring in around 75 young people into the building a week. It gives 75 young people somewhere to go and something to do when there wasn’t anything.

The other part of the youth project is the drop in youth club. After refurbishing a space into the centre thanks to The Patcham Community Foundation and The Ladies Mile we put on a Youth open day and weekly summer sessions for young people inclusive of a free lunch and included activities like Nerf Gun Battles and Tie Dye Painting. The weekly drop in youth club will be starting after half term on a Wednesday following on from the football and will be staffed by TDC workers until we are able to recruit our own youth workers. We have to point out that a lot of this project wouldn’t have been possible without Gayle and her team at the Ladies Mile.

Next we are looking at introducing a Boxing/Fitness club to the project, some cooking sessions and life skill sessions and anything else the young people want and ask for.

The building as a whole has now become a place young people hang out in and feel safe. We provide free snacks for kids after school and they respect the building and the staff- most of the time. They are seeing this building more as theirs rather than not and that has made me feel super happy.

The Old Boat Companions – a weekly group for older people has become a great hit with over 15 members who come most weeks. This was a groups that we tried multiple times over the last couple of years but with the mix of Nikki, Lou and Steve they have found the right combination to make the sessions fun, inclusive and regular. The thing most the members love is the openness of the group and the way they felt included from day one. This group has also been able to be stabilised by the funding provided by The Dodgson Foundation. They have provided funds for the group to come together and do lots of fun activities including Line Dancing, Chair Yoga, visits to the One Garden, Boccia and have recently bought a dart board. They have also committed to paying for the group to be able to go out for a Christmas Lunch at the Ladies Mile. Thank you to the funders and the Volunteers in this group, it could not and would not have happened without the commitment and hard work from you all.

Kitchen and Garden – With the funding that we received through the Climate Action Fund we managed to hire a project manager to help us develop the kitchen and garden. We have been able to put on some cooking sessions, start batch cooking meals for the community, add a compost

tumbler to our garden and start building up our volunteer team for the garden. We have vegetable planters in the garden which for the first time this year have been providing food and the garden has ben going from strength to strength. The kitchen project has changed due to the need of our community and instead of wanting to learn new skills they are more on survival mode and just needing access to the food and help batch cook instead.

Boatopia – demand and donations have increased! It is a really well used asset in the community with the addition of school clothing now. Anything we do not use is popped into our green bin at the side which we are then paid per kilo for. This is at no cost to us as it is solely run by wonderful group of volunteers. In addition to Boatopia we also had a huge number of free school uniforms available to the community to a number of different schools provided to us by smarter uniform. This made such an impact to so many households.

Cinema – still going strong every Friday and is free as always. We will be looking at doing films for young people in line with the youth work and also for adults in the evenings.

Community Events – have included the Jubilee Celebration, Christmas Fun Day, 3 low cost Christmas Shows and Pumpkin Carving. These as always have not been to raise funds but to have affordable events available to the community that would otherwise be inaccessible. Being able to visit Santa, go to a fair, carve a pumpkin, see a Christmas show are all things that can provide joy at a time when people are just being able to financially survive. This has been and always will be one of my personal priorities. To make sure that there are elements of Joy available to every household and every individual throughout the year. We were also lucky enough to be gifted a huge number of Aladdin Tickets at the Brighton Centre and £2000 to spend on Christmas presents to give our community which was as you can imagine magical and we would like to thank the OS&B foundation for their very generous donation.

Volunteers – None of what we do could be done without our amazing group of volunteers, most of whom have been here longer than 12 months. With the different projects that are available, one volunteer can take part in a few and do it to suit their timetable.

Once a volunteer is inducted they are welcome to come in and take part at any time we are open which makes the Old Boat a flexible and fun place to spend your time. At present out weekly volunteer numbers stand at 28.

The security in the building was upgraded in 2022 with us being able to put decent CCTV in the whole building inside and out. This has made the staff feel more secure as it can be viewed from the till point. This was one of our focuses for 2022 so I am happy that this was achieved.

We have been lucky enough to get a grant through Brighton and Hove council for works on the building to make it more carbon neutral. This will hope to include insulating the whole building, new windows and doors where required and new lighting throughout. Depending on cost it may also include better heating in the hall. We are aiming for the works to take place in early 2024 and have a impact on our electric bills so that we are not paying around £15000 a year on electric costs.

We continue to deliver Household Support funds to households most in need of support with food, electric, toiletries, and other essentials through the cost of living. We hope this funding continues as we are able to reach lots of households immediately that are in emergency situations.

Partnerships – We have worked hard to make as many partnerships as we can for us to be able to deliver our services through them but also so that we can be supported by them. Our partnerships include other charities, schools, health care workers and so many more. Our newest partner is the National Data Bank which will help us to provide phone data to those in need so that they are not without connection and are able to access online services. We feel that partnerships are important and part of working in Brighton and Hove and we would like to thank our partners for helping us support and achieve our charitable aims.

Overall everything at the Old Boat increased with our services currently including,

Community Café, Community Kitchen and Garden, our charity shop Boatopia, Play Café, low cost Soft Play, Pay-as-you-Feel Barber, Costume Library, Youth Services, Older Persons Group, International Women’s Group, Community Fun Days, Weekly Cinema, delivering of Household Support Fund and Healthy Neighbourhood Fund.

It is remarkable to see how far the Old Boat has progressed in the last 3 years with over 3000 visits through the door every month. We are proud of the work we have been able to achieve and our reputation for being a trusted provider in our community.

Thank you again to all that have been a part of what we have achieved as this has from the beginning been a community building, run by the community, for the community and we will continue to do so for many years to come.

Financial Review 2022

The Old Boat went through another jump in turnover in the year 2022. With services expanding and more people being aware of what we do it made a big difference to the number of people walking through our door and how much money was being spent. With more income, came more cost with staffing and stock not to mention utilities and general usage of the building.

Total Income from 2022 was £241,037 which was an increase of £96,313 from 2021.

–          Charitable Activities– £44,983

–          Trading Activities – £173,264

–          Donations – £17,059

–          Fundraising Activities- £5265

–          Other Income – £466 

Total Expenditure from 2022 was £230,615 which was an increase of £101,422.

At the end of 2022 we had £68,496 which was made up of

–          £35,000 in emergency funds

–          £10,995 in unrestricted funds

–          £22,501 in restricted funds

The restricted funds was made up of grant funding or donations relating to the Older Persons Project, the Youth Project, the Kitchen project, Household Support Fund, Healthy Neighbourhood Fund and the Clift Memorial Fund.

Income from 2022 was primarily raised by activities at the Old Boat (Café and Room Rentals).

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