23 Nov 2017
Welcome to our second newsletter. A lot has been happening in the last month although not all of it will have been visible to the naked eye. The one thing we hope you have noticed is that the bar is now open every Friday from 6pm to 10pm and trade is building steadily week on week. That's not only great news from a social point of view - users from different groups, plus friends and neighbours can meet and chat - but also the bar is now contributing financially to the House. Come and join us.
Something else that was highly visible and hugely successful was our Halloween party. Tickets for this event were sold out within a day. The children enjoyed various play activities including apple bobbing, creepy crafts and a prize for the best scary costume. Meanwhile the adults enjoyed...I'd like to say a quiet drink at the bar but they were probably noisier than the kids and got into the spirit of the evening by donning some fairly spectacular costumes of their own.
Macmillan Coffee Morning
Shrewsbury House took part in this annual event to support the Macmillan charity, and we were delighted to raise over £300.00. Thanks to all our fantastic cake makers, to the staff who helped out on the day, and to all our visitors.
On Sunday 26th November we will host a Vintage Fair, from 11am to 5pm. It’ll be a fantastic occasion – as well as stalls throughout the house selling a huge range of vintage goods there will be Lindy Kicks dance workshops, a swing / jazz singer, makeovers, teas and the bar will be open. Something for everyone. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/doyouvintage/
Christmas is coming
Join us on Friday 15th December for our Christmas Party from 5pm. Families are very welcome. Tickets are £5.00 each and are selling out quickly so don't hang around. Email Amanda - email@example.com. Your ticket includes a glass of mulled or sparkling wine on arrival (not for the kids obviously). Light refreshments, disco, raffle and a play room (not for the adults obviously) will be provided.
News on the cafe
As we said in the last newsletter, the issue of the cafe was a bit more complicated but we have found what we think is a solution that will mean a full cafe service can be resumed from early next year. We are inviting tenders from local catering businesses to run the cafe and provide us with catering services for meetings, weddings and parties etc. The invitation to tender will go out this week and we will make a decision in January with the aim that the new service should start in February.
The aim is for the cafe to provide our users with good food and drink at an affordable price at the times they want it and in a way that brings a financial benefit to the House.
If anyone wishes to express an interest in tendering for this contract they should email firstname.lastname@example.org before 5pm on Friday 8th December and we will send you the full Invitation to Tender.
Police Safer Neighbourhood Team
Among the visitors dropping in to the Macmillan coffee morning were the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team. They entered into the spirit of the occasion, doing their best to consume their share of the baked goods. They tweeted encouragement to their followers - " Last hour of the #coffeemorning at @ShrewsburyHse come along before we eat all the cake #rollusdownthehill ".
They have arranged to hold a regular informal advice and information session in the cafe. The first one of these was on 21st November, and covered a range of issues including all things Shrewsbury Park, from dogs to parakeets to safety. As soon as we have another date we’ll post it on our website and social media.
An update on our financial position from our Treasurer Richard Perrott
Since the new Board was appointed in August it has focused on stabilising Shrewsbury House’s financial position. Unfortunately, following a loss of over £20k last financial year and with losses continuing in the subsequent months, by August 2017 our reserves reached unacceptably low levels. Our objective is to stem the losses, return the house to surplus and rebuild reserves to a conservative level.
The most important steps to date have been to focus sharply on costs without compromising the level of service for users. It is a credit to the staff (Kathy, Darren, Richard and Peter) that many of these changes have been implemented swiftly and with a significant positive impact already felt on the bottom line.
The Board is looking to implement additional cost savings measures and is also completing a review of pricing, the results of which will likely be announced to affiliated groups in the coming weeks. During this period of transition, Greenwich Council has been supportive of the House, providing an advance on next year’s grant to ensure the near term viability of the centre.
As a result of the steps mentioned above, we currently expect Shrewsbury House to end this financial year (March 2018) with improved reserves compared to where we were in August. Our focus for the next few years will be to continue building reserves to acceptable levels - in the near term this will remain challenging, particularly given a lower expected level of council funding in 2018 as a result of the advance payment this year.
The board is extremely grateful to the continued patience and support of the users and staff. We are confident that as a result of the changes already made and additional changes to be implemented in the coming months we will rebuild the financial strength of Shrewsbury House so it can thrive as a community centre over the longer term.
Some changes on the Board
Some of the roles of Board members have changed since the last newsletter. John Mills is now Chair and Richard Perrott is now both Vice Chair and Treasurer. Amanda Jolly remains as Company Secretary.
Annual General Meeting
We will be holding our Annual General Meeting early next year and will be looking for more Trustees to join the Board. In these challenging times we particularly need Trustees who bring their energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and expertise. We will announce the date of the AGM in the next newsletter.
We are planning to hold an Open Day early in the New Year (date to be confirmed) and this will be a great opportunity for all our user groups to showcase what they do and recruit new members. The Open Day will be the perfect way to show that Shrewsbury House is alive and kicking, has plenty going on right now but still has room for much more. We're thinking taster sessions, demonstrations, exhibitions and anything else you fancy.
Other ways to get involved
We are really keen to involve user groups and local residents in what’s going on. We want to start having regular events at the house – music, films, quiz nights and other things. What would you like to see? Email and let us know email@example.com. Could you help with the organisation?
Are you interested in gardening? We need people to help with general maintenance, including mowing the lawns. The Friends of Shrewsbury House meet at the House every Saturday morning at 11am armed with secateurs, trowels and wellies and would welcome reinforcements!