About Friends Centre
Friends Centre will provide quality and appropriate learning programmes for adults in the city of Brighton & Hove and surrounding areas.
Friends Centre is to be at the heart of adult learning in the city of Brighton & Hove to help learners achieve aspirations and meet challenges.
Friends Centre is an independent adult education organisation where people can develop their knowledge, skills, understanding and creativity in a supportive environment.
Friends Centre’s learning programmes aim to:
- Help learners achieve aspirations and meet challenges
- Stimulate community interest and civic involvement
- Promote tolerance, social justice, environmental sustainability and international understanding
Friends Centre receives funding from the Skills Funding Agency for:
- Adult Skills Budget – through this funding we offer courses from Entry 1 to Level 2 in English, Maths, and ESOL, as well as Level 1 and 2 courses in Art, Photography, Fashion, IT User Skills, Counselling and Mental Health Awareness
- Community Learning – through this funding we work with our partners The Bridge Community Education Centre, Whitehawk Inn, Hollingdean Children’s Centre, Moulscoomb Primary School, Carden Primary School and Millcroft Centre to offer courses for the local communities in arts and crafts, IT, creative writing, English and ESOL. We also use this funding to help learners, who may not be able to pay our full fees, a concession rate; and offer learners who are not ready for accredited courses study skill courses to help them prepare and develop their confidence.
- From April 2015 to March 2016 we have received further funding from the Skills Funding Agency for Community Learning Mental Health Pilot. This sees us working with ten partner organisations including Sussex Partnership Trust to deliver courses and workshops for people with mild to moderate mental health conditions.
Friends Centre also holds:
- A National Careers Service contract to deliver Information, Advice & Guidance
- A Brighton & Hove City Council contract for Supporting People, which delivers 1 to 1 tuition for homeless people to improve their access to English, Maths, IT and Language training.
We also offer a programme of arts and crafts, creative writing and literature, health and happiness, history, IT, French and personal and professional development courses.
Friends Centre has over 1,100 learners in 2014-15. Geographically and socially, Friends Centre serves the shifting and often disadvantaged and deprived central Brighton community with 39% of all learners resident in disadvantaged postcodes. The highest proportion (67%) of all learners are resident in BN1 and BN2. Friends Centre also works with the community hubs in the estates in the east of the City at Whitehawk Inn and at The Bridge in Moulscoomb, with 11% of all Friends Centre learners living in these estate post codes with high multiple derivation indicators. 29% of our ASB learners are referred to us from agencies with Mind being one of our main referrers, while 26% of ASB learners are referred to us by a friend or relative. Many of our learners present with mental health and learning difficulties, with 11% of our learners declaring that they have a learning difficulty at enrolment, and 17% declaring at enrolment they have a disability. Within ASB, 20% of our learners have declared at enrolment that they have a learning difficulty and 25% of our learners have declared they have a disability, and overall 34% of our learners have declared they have LDD.
Friends Centre was established in 1945 by Brighton Quakers. Throughout the Second World War, the Friends Meeting House was open to evacuees, refugees, troops and anyone else who was far from home. Informal social activities were often arranged. Friends Centre partly grew from these activities, and partly from concern amongst Brighton Quakers that there were few opportunities for local people to meet one another and talk.
In the early days, Friends Centre worked closely with the Workers' Educational Association, local education authority, art gallery and museum, youth service and local music groups to run informal learning events, including talks, discussion groups, music recitals, play readings, and a puppet group. Friends Centre was also involved in social action, calling meetings and study groups on many social issues including the campaign for African independence. Money was short and most of the work was done by volunteers, but by the tenth anniversary, activities were being held every night of the week and Friends Centre had gained a good reputation for putting on interesting talks and adopting an adventurous approach to art, music, poetry and philosophy.
Friends Centre courses gradually became more formalised, paid staff were recruited, and the Centre attracted government funding and accreditation from various educational bodies. Friends Centre outgrew the Friends Meeting House in 2005 and secured new classroom space at Ivory Place and a temporary office in Vine Street. In December 2009 we relocated our Vine St office to Brighton Junction in Isetta Square where we also have 4 new training rooms. Although an independent organisation, Friends Centre still retains the Quaker values of friendship, community, and social justice.
Throughout its history Friends Centre has learned the importance of involving people - learners, volunteers, and other organisations. Learners are an essential part of Friends Centre and contribute their ideas, energy and enthusiasms.
Staff at Friends Centre at our old site in Ship Street, circa 1980
Our current centres: Brighton Junction & Ivory Place
'We felt the community would have all kinds of needs, such as meeting together in a search for knowledge and to share ideas, and they would need a place where every colour, creed, religion and social background could come.'
(Margery Sedgwick, Principal from 1945 to 1973)
Volunteering has been critical to our success from the beginning. We have always welcomed volunteers to support individual learners in meeting their goals.
Friends Centre in the community
We work with many community partners who help us plan our programmes by identifying community and learning needs.
Friends Centre is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
New courses for the Autumn Term!
Our new brochure is now available! The brochure covers all courses happening in the Autumn term starting in September, but we've also included courses for Spring and Summer terms next year. To download the full brochure, click here.
If you'd like to book a place on one of our courses, have a look at the courses page or call us on 01273 810210.Autumn term course brochure
ESOL classes are now enrolling!
We're now taking on new students for classes that will start in September. To enrol, please visit Ivory Place and fill out an enrolment form.
Please click here for more details.
Thank You Stephen for fundraising for us!
Congratulations and huge thanks to Stephen Fairchild who walked the London 2 Brighton Challenge to raise funds for friends centre’s Lynda Kinsella Bursary fund. The fund helps support students to attend courses who may not otherwise be able to. Stephen walked London to Brighton in 21 hours 59 minutes and 49 seconds beating his previous time by over half an hour! It’s not too late to donate and we will let people know our total from 23rd June onwards… Well done Stephen!!
Click here for more details.
Paying online for your course(s)?
From 18 December onwards, for any transactions to be processed you need to use Internet Explorer Version 7 (or later) or the latest Google Chrome or Firefox browsers.
Adult Learner of the Year
Andy Barber - Our Adult learner of the year tells his story in our first YouTube video! Click here to watch the video.
Click here for more details on the National Awards.
Friends Centre are looking to appoint 2 or 3 new trustees to join the board
Click here for more details.
Fashion Tutor publishes book on Sewing Machine
Our dressmaking tutor, Julia Hincks has published a book on the Overlocker sewing machine! The overlocker is a type of sewing machine which is used for trimming and edge finishing fabrics. It’s perfect for seam and hem finishing as it creates a professional finish which you just don’t get on a normal sewing machine' Click here for more details.
ESOL Volunteer publishes first book!
Bob Cant, an ESOL volunteer at Friends Centre, has just published his first novel. Something Chronic is the story of a man who wakes up after twenty years of sleeping sickness and tries to make sense of the world around him. It belongs to the school of Scottish magic realism.
Bob says: 'I have been working on this novel for years but joining a creative writing class with Rebecca Duffy at Friends Centre was the kick start it needed to make it suitable for publication.'It is now available for immediate purchase online (£8.99) Click here for more details.
Sign up to our mailing list!
You can now receive email updates from the Friends Centre straight to your inbox! Just click the link below and we'll send you info about new courses as soon as they're confirmed on the website! Click here to sign up!
Friends Centre has made a pledge to the Thumbs up Scheme
Click here for more details.