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Sound Waves Community Choir perform at last year's Seaview carol concert.

Sound Waves Community Choir perform at last year’s carol concert.

Carol concert coming as Seaview’s work goes on

As Seaview prepares for its Christmas carol concert, the annual general meeting has learnt how the charity continues to find a way to provide a vital service to homeless and vulnerable people despite reduced government funding. Report by Nick Terdre, photos by John Stiles.

Now a fixture of the end-of-year calendar, the Seaview carol concert will be held at St John the Evangelist church in St Leonards, as usual, on Saturday 9 December. And as usual it will be set on its way with a joke and a song from Father David, followed by a familiar roll-call of local choirs and groups: Now and Then, Sound Waves Community Choir, Shadey Pines and the Seaview Choir with Time to Shine.

It’s an event that tends to attract a large and appreciative audience, and it is expected that this year’s concert will do so too. A collection will be taken as it’s also part of the fund-raising programme which provides a welcome and necessary boost to Seaview’s income.

The charity’s total income was £520,737 in the 2016/17 (April-March) accounting year, finance manager Chris Whelan told last week’s annual general meeting. That was well above expenditure of £411,719, but most of the surplus is required for match-funding grant income.

Seaview’s finances have improved substantially since 2015/16, when a deficit was recorded which had to be covered out of reserves.

Like many other charities fulfilling a public need, Seaview has experienced a significant reduction in central government funding in recent years, with further decreases likely in the future. However, in 2016/17 statutory grants from Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council, at £257,963, were on a par with the previous year.

sseaview xmas 16- 300These grants accounted for roughly half the charity’s income. Grants from other sources came to £121,998 – financial support was received from some 20 organisations, including Comic Relief, the Quaker Housing Trust, Hastings Round Table, Hastings Winkle Club and the Darvell Bruderhof community.

The Big Sleep scores again

Seaview’s own fund-raising brought in £53,596, down some £4,000 on the 2015/16 figure. The jewel in the crown of the fund-raising activities is the Big Sleep, held in September, which this year has generated around £25,000 to date, with monies still coming in, according to chief officer Annie Whelan. Last year this popular event made around £29,000.

Events like the Big Sleep have raised Seaview’s profile in the local community. “We’re beginning to make an impression on local people who are beginning to understand the good work we’re doing,” Chris Whelan said.

While the charity assisted 1,381 individuals during the year, about the same as in 2015/16, the call on its services increased in some quarters. In particular the incidence of rough sleeping is rising: the number of rough sleepers identified by Seaview’s proactive outreach service was 221 in the year to the end of March, Annie Whelan said, but in the following six months 200 were counted, indicating that the full-year figure is likely to be much higher. In 2013/14 the number was 92.

Another new initiative which Annie told the AGM about was Seaview’s Got Talent, a showcase for the entertainment talents of service users which might otherwise go unappreciated. A session of Seaview’s Got Talent will be held at the well-being centre in Hatherley Road, St Leonards, from 2.30-4.30pm on Wednesday 13 December.

Seaview Carol Concert, St John the Evangelist Church, Brittany Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0RD, Saturday 9 December, 5pm. Seasonal sweetmeats and refreshments will be available, and a collection will be taken.

Posted 15:18 Monday, Dec 4, 2017 In: Grassroots

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