The Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project (BUCFP) is a registered charity that was founded in 1981. Today the centre provides a number of facilities, projects and services that combine to allow the centre to fulfil its principal charitable objective ‘to relieve poverty, distress and hardship amongst unemployed, unwaged and low waged people’. It’s open Monday to Friday 10 am-4 pm and is characterised by an often hectic, sometimes quiet, large open plan area. This area is open to any member of the public and includes a play area for children. It has a tea bar and a few computers with internet access, and also contains a number of tables, chairs and sofas. There are several other adjoining rooms that, together with the open plan area, house the services and activities on offer at the centre. The floor below houses the main office and the offices of the paid workers. The people who use the centre come from a diverse range of backgrounds with many drawn from people living in poverty. Recent internal surveys of the centre suggest that 61 % of the centre users say they have difficulties with their mental health. The centre has a substantial number of volunteers who administer many of the projects and services and these volunteers are typically drawn from centre users.
It is estimated that the centre has in the region of 100 visitors per day and they expect to serve around 40 large, (very) low-cost vegan meals and 20 kids’ meals at lunch, although this number fluctuates. The centre also has an allotment project where volunteers, centre users and staff work together to tend a piece of local land and produce food for the centre.
The centre provides confidential drop-in advice sessions on a range of social welfare issues. This includes benefits advice, representation for tribunals and appeals, employment advice, housing advice and telephone advice. It offers a range of affordable computer and language courses, as well as healthy living classes in art, photography, yoga, dance, cookery and creative writing. It houses a free, high-quality creche for children up to the age of eight years.