A snapshot of one hectic week in the life of the Bevy in September shows just what a community pub looked like.
WARM (Widening Access, Research and Mentoring) from Newport visited for the weekend to see how we tick, delivering a Brains at the Bevy talk about their work in further education for people with mental health challenges, as well as enjoying lunch with the Friday Friends seniors club, Bevendean Down parkrun, our full English breakfasts and the garden show.
They also got to see that anything is possible at the Bevy and as part of British Science Week we teamed up with the House of Cultural Curiosity who foraged materials and delivered workshops at Moulsecoomb Primary and the Bevy to make homemade shampoo!
On the same evening that we were hosting a community business leaders programme meal (our general manager is part of this national programme), volunteers from Good Gym Brighton ran from the Old Steine before tackling the weeds in our edible pub garden. Our garden is looked after by volunteers and the fruit and veg used by our Friday Friends lunch club to make puddings as well as jams and pickles to raise money for their Christmas party.
Many people with learning disabilities struggle with finding work so we have teamed up with St. John’s College in Kemp Town who have started working in the kitchen delivering our lunchtime meals and in our training kitchen. As usual we hosted Spiral Sussex, who bring their group of adults with learning difficulties to have a drink and a meal and play games. We are also working with the council’s learning disability employment team to offer short work placements behind the bar. Our current placement Kieron is doing well and is popular with the Friday Friends crew. A brilliant week in the pub all round!
It’s not just the breadth of services that make us a community pub, but also the fact that we rely on volunteers to mow the lawns, fix the drains, collect glasses when we are busy, or do a stint behind the bar as well as help organising events and tackle the mountain of paperwork that comes with any business. Recruits to our team of volunteers are much needed and always welcome so please sign up to become a Friend of the Bevy.
The best example of the pub pulling the community together was our street party were 400 people celebrated the past, present and future of the Bevy. We closed the street and had music, games, free food and a few victims were found for the stocks. We worked with Blockbuilders to come up with Minecraft designs for our knackered old garage, while Bevendean History Group jogged people’s memories, Gladrags supplied the dressing up box and an aerial map of Moulsecoomb in 1936 is now permanently displayed on the dividing door in the pub.
We’ve run cooking courses in our training kitchen for children who learn to cook then serving it to parents and carers at the end of each session. We had a Great Bevy Bake Off with kids making Victoria sponges while Brighton and Hove Food Partnership ran a six week dementia cafe and we have plans to run a weekly dementia cafe.
Our second series of Brains at the Bevy, where academics present a half hour talk in language everyone can understand has really caught peoples imagination and often plays to a full house, winning a commendation in a national universities awards programme.
We have darts and bar billiards teams (our ladies darts team is the best in the city!) and the local pigeon club meet every Friday and we have done pop up bars at Moulsecoomb Primary summer fayre and Bev-Fest. We continue to raise money for Look Sussex – the blind and partially sighted club based at the 67 Centre and will be asking shareholders to vote on which local charity we should support every 6 months.
The Carers Centre have done budgeting workshops, we’ve hosted health checks and have a monthly arts group drop-in as well as monthly councillor drop in surgery. We’ve had massage, plant sale, kids parties for Easter, Halloween and Christmas and a place for a woodcraft group in the winter. We had a Queens Birthday celebrations where Lord Lieutenant visited, Pie n Mash & Vera Lynn night, where our minibus once again helped people get to the pub who might otherwise be stuck at home. We also take Brighton and Hove Albion fans to every home league game.
Brighton University design students did a module on community pubs and displayed some fantastic work. Check out the insect box in the garden. We sponsor a student rugby team who in exchange do some volunteering at the Bevy, while Masters students spent six weeks studying us which included painting the toilets and putting on a fundraising quiz.
We’ve been working closely with Steve from Holler Boys Brewery and will be launching our own beer with him – the Bevendean Beast – this weekend.
It’s not all been plain sailing: we struggle to run a profitable kitchen and have an ongoing dispute with the council over the fact that even though we run so many services the council can no longer afford to, we still are being asked to pay full business rates.
We might not have won best community pub but we think we have a blueprint of how pubs can change and survive into the future. In fact it’s community business weekend, showcasing how communities have taken over the running of everything from shops, pubs and piers.
We might not get everything right but we reckon this is what a community pub looks like.