A brighter look for Brighthelm

Photo:New glass frontage for the cafe

New glass frontage for the cafe

Photo:The cafe from the inside

The cafe from the inside

Photo:Part of the pre-school facilities

Part of the pre-school facilities

Photo:Another view of the pre-school area

Another view of the pre-school area

Photo:A friendly volunteer

A friendly volunteer

Photo:The main hall during the re-launch event

The main hall during the re-launch event

Building in North Road being upgraded, both inside and out

By Rik Child, Brighthelm Director

Brighthelm, or the Brighthelm Church and Community Centre to give the organisation its full name, has been going through a period of significant change.  Many in the North Laine and beyond will know both the inside and outside of the building and will remember that Brighthelm had become rather shabby in recent years. This is now changing....

Brighthelm façade and garden

Residents might have noticed that the garden has been spruced up and that there are edible plants growing in raised beds and that the outside of the building has been cleaned and repaired both on the old Hanoverian façade, dating from 1825, and also on the modern concrete side on North Road.

More changes coming

The good news is that is not the end of the changes. CCTV cameras have been put in place but there is still a lot more to do. The works will include having the trees examined and cutting back some of the undergrowth to improve the safety and appearance of the garden. The garden lights, that don’t appear to work, are also to be examined and repaired.  Further developments to the garden design are also in the pipeline.

Cafe and front office

Inside Brighthelm there have been considerable changes too. The downstairs has undergone a significant refurbishment, with the cafe area being completely gutted and the north wall removed. This has now been replaced with a new glass frontage and doors to welcome people in from North Road.

Cafe food improved

The cafe has also been transformed with the quality of the food improved to rival anything you can buy at a cafe in the North Laine but at better value. Hot meals are £4.95 and the barista coffee from Roasted is also very competitively priced. Part of Brighthelm’s mission is to promote Fairly Traded as well as local, seasonable and sustainable products at prices people can really afford.  Residents are welcome to use the cafe and take advantage of special offers available on the Facebook page and Twitter feeds.


Many people may not know that Brighthelm also runs a Pre-school facility.  The Pre-school meets in Brighthelm’s basement and has recently undergone a very significant refurbishment, moving from one room to a new purpose built facility. The new space can take up to 30 children and is extremely affordable.  All children of 3-4 receive 15 hours a week funded by government through the local authority and parents can book further sessions if they so desire.  There are also newly funded places for two year olds that started in September 2013, though these are not yet completely universal. Please do telephone to ask. The Pre-school is recruiting and we would love to show prospective parents around the facility.

Challenges for the future

Brighthelm is listening to the community. We know there are on-going problems in the garden and that anti-social behaviour is spoiling the environment for the wider community. We want the community to help us address these and there will be more to report on this soon. The management is also aware that the facilities at Brighthelm are in need of some updating and upgrading. There will be developments in this area in the near future.

A journey of renewal

Brighthelm is at the beginning of a journey of renewal.  The rooms are going to be given a serious makeover and we will introduce more modern projection facilities to complement the universal free wifi and broadband we now offer. This will vastly enhance the customer experience in Brighthelm and we hope the wider community will use Brighthelm more and more frequently.

Always looking for volunteers

As part of the new Brighthelm, the Trust continues to run the community centre with a paid staff team. There is now also a new emphasis on volunteering.  Brighthelm is already in the process of welcoming new volunteers who are working on the front desk, joining the gardening group, staffing the cafe, helping at pre-school, setting up rooms, making teas and coffees for meetings and showing people around.  If you are interested in giving back to your community in this way, please do get in contact.


Brighthelm held a re-launch on 20th September 2013 when people were invited to come and see what really happens inside and outside the building.  Over 25 organisations that are current building users had a stall so that people coming to see the new premises were able to meet the range of people that use Brighthelm as a meeting space, for exercise classes, as office tenants, for church worship or who provide supplies to our kitchen, to name but a few.

The church

Brighthelm is also in the process of recruiting a new minister.  This is a special role and the United Reformed Church hopes to welcome a new minister in early 2014. This new minister will oversee the spiritual life from the centre, with a particular theological interest in climate change and environmental destruction, looking at Christian responses to this world wide challenge, as well as undertaking chaplaincy and other spiritual work from the centre.

Keeping in touch

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook:

Twitter: @BrighthelmURC

Facebook: facebook.com/BrighthelmURC

and visit our website.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 224, September/October 2013]

This page was added on 21/10/2013.

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