Client of the Month – BNENC

Understanding the vital work that BNENC does to support their local community to support the people of Breckfield and North Everton. Bob, the chairman and founder of BNENC, chats to us about the challenges and successes of running the charity.

Bob can you describe in brief what BNENC’s core mission and objectives are for the community of Breckfield and North Everton?

BNENC is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee developed and run by local residents for local residents (Peer Led by individuals with lived experience).

The Breckfield & North Everton Neighbourhood Council (BNENC) is a Community based Voluntary Organisation that provides practical help, advice, support and training to some

15,000 residents in the Everton ward one of the most deprived area’s in the country.

 BNENC provides its residents with information advice and support as well as training on employability, personal and group development, volunteers training, developing local strategies, IT & Computers, 1st Aid, Health & safety, Safeguarding, mental health first aid and suicide awareness, more recently residents have also been able to attend anti poverty and debt awareness training.

 BNENC is based within inner city communities with a major lack of resources and a high rate of crime, high unemployment, poor housing, poor health, high unemployment and poverty etc. BNENC and its Volunteers have identified a number of strategies that will help reduce or combat the problems faced by Breckfield residents. 

Our work is carried out by a small team of dedicated staff with a team of trained and dedicated volunteers whom BNENC recruit from the local community, BNENC provides them with training and on going supportBNENC’s ethos is to help increase the skills and abilities of local people and to assist them into Jobs, Education and or Training. BNENC are currently working with local developers, the City Council and other agencies in the physical regeneration of the community this is to provide members of our community with warm housing fit for purpose and within the affordability range.

Income deprivation also means that there are a large number of social problems experienced by this community that includes debt, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse. As well as supporting our residents and community we are currently delivering services to support our community by delivering and supporting vulnerable residents with:-

Mental & Physical Health / Welfare rights / Anti Poverty Programmes / Crimes prevention / Environmental / Education employment & training programmes etc.

How have the challenges facing the Breckfield & North Everton community evolved since the formation of BNENC?

Our community experiences the following issues and problems that has a negative impact upon our vulnerable members of our community which in turn impacts the wider community these include:-

High Crime and youth related gang crime including ASB, drug and alcohol abuse, poor housing – we still have over 50% of our housing stock made up of pre 1919 terrace housing which impacts on the health of residents living in large damp conditions and difficult to heat leading to fuel poverty & health issues like asthma, COPD, etc.

Poor physical health and mental health – our ward has high indices of alcohol & drug related health issues compared with the figures for the City and National UK figures, our ward has 2,447 ( out of a total population of 16772 ) individuals classed as Extremely Vulnerable People Population.

High Unemployment and individuals in receipt of benefit – this adds to our community experiencing high numbers of vulnerable individuals living in poverty and experiencing debt leading to eviction, poor mental health and relationship and family break down leading to North Liverpool having large numbers of domestic violence.

Our community experiences very low income  – relative low income is defined as a family in low income Before Housing Costs (BHC) in the reference year.

A family must have claimed one or more of Universal Credit, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit at any point in the year to be classed as low income in these statistics:

Ward Relative %          Liverpool %    Great Britain %

Everton      34.7%             27.6%                18.4%

Absolute low income is defined as above but in comparison with incomes in previous year:

Ward Absolute %          Liverpool %       Great Britain %

Everton         28.5%           23.70%             15.20%

28.5% of Citywide 16 year olds living in absolute low income households live in Everton Liverpool.

Financial pressure through benefit reductions contributes to growing personal debt; Money Advice Service research puts Liverpool in top 5 local authorities for indebtedness, affecting 40% adults. Consequently, many low income families can’t meet essential expenditure, facing ‘heat or eat’ dilemmas.

In recent years Liverpool foodbank usage doubled to 11,000. 25% Merseyside households use prepayment meters for gas and/or electricity (Ofgem). Annually, prepayment customers pay around £250 more than others. During the last 18 months our welfare rights programme has stopped 18 evictions, secured additional and or back dated benefits totalling over £1.6 million.

BNENC are looking at the eviction figures and people in rent arrears to rise within next 18 months due to the serious cost of living and fuel costs.

Isolation & Loneliness since COVID – the figures for those individuals who have stated they feel isolated and experience loneliness has increased by 27%  since start of COVID19  (BNENC Report 2022)

Given the longstanding history of BNENC, what have been some of the most impactful achievements the organisation has had in the community?

BNENC achievements since its inception in 1996:

The building of the communities first ever community centre.

The establishment of MAKING WAVES (Witness and Victim Encouragement Support) Programme, a Ministry of Justice award winning programme supporting victims of crime.

The development of the HIM Programme (health inclusion for Men).

Working with Partners on the development f new local homes, 2 x new schools and 2 x health centres.

Helping to bring ASDA to Breck road and the employment of 350 local people.

The development of Kick start 2 Health operating in 5 other locations across our community supporting people who are isolated and lonely.

Our latest programme is our Welfare Rights Programme supporting vulnerable individuals struggling with debt & poverty.

As the Founder and CEO of the Breckfield & North Everton Neighbourhood Council Charity you will have seen many changes in the 25 years you have been in charge, what are the most significant?

Over the last 27 years I have seen many dramatic changes within the organisation and the local community the most dramatic change has been that to the local community with regard to local regeneration.

BNENC were the lead community organisation on the Anfield & Breckfield regeneration group along with Liverpool City Council and Keepmoat, the lead developer, this changed the local built environment and has created a safer, greener place to live work and visit.

Your award by Liverpool City Council of Citizen of Honour of the City of Liverpool recognises your work within the community and the armed services veterans community is an impressive feat. Can you share more about that experience and how it benefits the BNENC community?

I was recently awarded Citizen of Honour by Liverpool City Council for my work in communities across the City, this is a special award that recognises my contribution to time effort commitment  and dedication in supporting communities. It also highlighted the work in  developing the first One Stop Shop in England for veterans across the city as well as developing a unique support pathway that has assisted 1,000’s of Veterans across the Northwest.

As the Founder and CEO of the Charity, you handle a plethora of responsibilities. How do you balance and prioritise them, especially in a dynamic community environment like Breckfield and North Everton?

My day to day work in running the Charity starts at 7.00am each morning sitting at my desk with a strong black coffee, my first task is answering all the emails and booking meetings, my main role is to ensure the financial sustainability of such a busy Charity. It is important that we continue to grow and develop but deliver quality services and support to our community, this though needs to addressed in a strategic manner and is not about chasing money, any funding application I complete has to be about addressing the needs of the community first and then the organisation this is a fine balance that only comes with years of working within the organisation.

I also have to ensure that all our programmes are being run in line with the strict timescales / budgets and outcomes so regular meetings with programme staff is important to ensure staff are supported and programmes are on track in service delivery.

Each year working with board members and staff running our programmes I develop an action plan with our priorities for the future and I try to stick to the plan but sometimes a curve ball is thrown such as the recent COVID19 epidemic in which I had to change our priorities. I had to ensure that BNENC hit the ground running on the first day by delivering a brand new programme called ShopMate – a programme that provided a unique support package to vulnerable residents in our community.

So as a Charity we have to be flexible as well in order to address the ever changing landscape.

How has the integration of the new VOIP telephone system enhanced BNENC’s operations and connectivity?

 The new system has been remarkable as now I don’t have to pick up messages, I can answers calls made on my office phone anywhere. This helps with communication and keeping on top of things.

With the recent acquisition of new funded PCs, how do you envision BNENC furthering its reach and effectiveness within the community?

 BNENC are utilising the 6 new computers we recently bought to develop an outreach programme in the community ensuring that our community is connected and can access the internet for their advantage.

Technology is rapidly advancing. How do you see BNENC adapting to future tech trends to better serve the community?

It is important as a growing and developing charity in the current climate that we keep on top of technology and utilise it for the benefit of our community,  as an IT fossil,  it important that we continue to a have close working relationship with our friends at MICT to be kept up to speed with the rapidly changing face of technology.

Given our recent collaborative work, how important do you believe tech support is for community-based organisations like BNENC?

This is integral to our Charity and for the benefit of our community – to have support on hand who can prioritise the work and get the Charity operating is important

 With all the ongoing work and advancements, where do you see BNENC in the next 5 years?

 As a charity we don’t think 5 years ahead – but in 3 years I would like to see a dedicated child and youth programme / a family support programme and a purpose built kitchen

This is on top of our normal services and support that we deliver on a day to day basis.

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