CASE Central’s beginnings in April 2015 were hard, especially financially. We did not have experienced fundraisers, we risked eviction and we did not know if we could receive sufficient funds to stay open in the future. We received warm support from the local community and from various individuals and organisations, in particular Sussex Community Foundation, but it was still very stressful. It was then that two volunteers, Mark and Chris, decided to ‘lift our morale’ by designing and making our new sign, all by hand. They spent part the summer working at it, matching the colour scheme with our new logo, carefully mixing paints to get ‘the right blue’, creating stencils for each letter and sawing actual letters in wood. They painted wood with a waterproof protective coat first and then screwed and painted over the letters and a nice blue frame. So the new sign was ready, and we were so proud!
To celebrate this new beginnings our Trustees decided to have an unveiling ceremony, inviting local people who had supported us. They contacted our local MP Caroline Lucas, who was happy to attend the ceremony and unveil the sign. The event took place on 18 January 2016. Caroline Lucas gave a speech that made us feel encouraged and supported. Also Trustee Felton Shortall made a speech while a party started! For the occasion, Caroline held a surgery in our premises and saw, among others, one of our clients with a distressing Tax Credit problem – we are pleased to add that their problem was resolved soon!
The excitement created by Mark and Chris’s initiative was catching. The year later a larger group of volunteers held several meetings to discuss a long programme of refurbishments. This started slowly, as initially we had to count on donations of wood, paint, carpets, etc. from local people and traders.
We squirreled materials, making huge piles and stacks. Kevin Humphrey, a CASE Central volunteer who had great knowledge of building, carpentry and decoration, brought to the premises his own tools including an electric saw. All the building materials were kept in the lower floor of CASE Centre, which looked like a busy building site… and then works began, directed by Kevin. Mark, Sue, Mike, Russell, and a group of adult sons and daughters of CASE volunteers got involved in the work, painting, moving stuff, carpeting floors, nailing pieces of wood, and some of them making coffee and food for the others or just coming to look and give new ideas…
… and eventually CASE Central started having a new look, so much different from the grim, dilapidated, old place, which had been run down by its previous occupants, ‘BUC Limited’!
A new, professional-looking, bright social centre started to emerge, which reflected the positive and collective spirit of our new organisation – CASE Central! Besides the new front of house, Kevin Humphrey designed two offices in the back, where our growing Welfare Rights Team could see their clients and make photocopies. Our works and efforts, and their already visible results, attracted congratulations from users and locals, impressed by the look of our venue.
And yet more was to come. Our volunteers continued the work, and planned a new larger kitchen, a new sink, a new boiler, and a whole programme of office refurbishment as well, including new IT. All this deserved, and obtained, funds for specialist work, the boiler, and new computers and printers, thanks to the efforts of our new fundraisers Mark and Felton. We thank in particular the Foyle Foundation for their support for this project. We also thank Fareshare for the practical help provided to us, from advising on H&S requirement for our new kitchen to offering a volunteer plumber to complete some of the work.
Unfortunately our works slowed down in January 2017 because of the sudden death of our chief designer and work co-ordinator Kevin Humphrey on 5 January. His death left an enormous void, including emotional, as he was a real friend. He also left a great void in terms of expertise! But life continues… we continued the work, hired a plumber, bought a boiler, and we are getting a skilled carpenter to complete the kitchen. An IT team was also set up with Felton, Kieran and Myrcene to choose the new computers, printers and other hi-tech stuff, go to shops, look at the Internet to get high quality stuff, and eventually the big boxes have arrived!….. The more we do, the more excited we become about improving the rest of the building. The toilets next!……
About Kevin please click here.