Our Community Business Trade Up students come from all walks of life. We caught up with Bar Manager, Charlie Pyment about his experience on the programme…
In a nutshell:
- Organisation: From karaoke to community lunches, The Bevy is a community-owned pub on the outskirts of Brighton, hosting a wide variety of events for the benefit of the whole community
- Business model: As a Community Benefit Society (IPS), The Bevy receives donations from community shareholders and creates revenue through food and beverage sales
- SSE programme: Community Business Trade Up Programme 2018
- Supported by SSE in London
Open since 2014, The Bevy is a community-owned pub serving the vast housing estates of Moulsecoomb, Bevendean and Bates that lie on the outskirts of Brighton. “As well as being a pub, we host activities, events and community lunches in what’s quite a low-income area,” explains Charlie Pyment, who joined the organisation in March 2017 as bar manager. “So the place means a lot to the local community.”
Before reopening as The Bevy, the pub existed as the Bevendean Hotel but was shut down in 2010 due to antisocial behaviour. The venue remained closed until a group of volunteers came together to reopen the pub as a community-owned venue via a community shares structure.
What followed was a huge public effort to gut, renovate and reopen the pub as a place for locals to enjoy quality food and drink and take part in activities. “The pub has more than 800 shareholders, of which 50% live locally,” says Charlie. “It took a lot of door knocking, canvassing and fund raising, but the pub was eventually reopened thanks to the efforts of the local community.”
In January 2018 Charlie Pyment joined the Community Business Trade Up Programme, funded by Power to Change. Having previously worked in the for-profit sector, Charlie joined the programme to learn more about how community businesses worked, accessing a £10,000 grant in the process. Charlie admits that when he started the course he had no how big an impact it would have.
“I don’t know if I’d still be working at The Bevy had I not done the programme. It taught me how community businesses work and helped me learn to love my job.”
Since finishing the programme Charlie and the team have reached out to a wider demographic. “The course taught me how to identify and tap into opportunities that we perhaps weren’t aware of before. So we’ve increased trade by attracting more people from the community.”
The course reinforced the importance of accountability too. As well as a suggestions box, Charlie and the team now invite nominated customers to attend committee meetings and make all meeting agendas and minutes available to access in the pub and online. “We want to make sure everyone feels as involved as possible.”
Top tip for other social entrepreneurs
“When times get tough, have faith in your community. In my experience, this is when they come through and help out the most – in the times when you really need their support.”