Brighton & South Downs

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Brighton & South Downs Branch of CAMRA website

Chairman’s Newsletter - February 2021.

A message to Brighton and South Downs Branch CAMRA members from Jason Phillips, the new Branch Chairman...

After a very difficult year we held our delayed AGM on 23rd January using the ZOOM online meeting tool. The opportunity to refresh your branch’s Committee was taken and after nominations and voting we arrived with a good blend of experience and first-time members.

So, what’s new you may ask? Firstly, our Committee wants to focus activity on campaigning; an area that we have been too passive previously. We held a productive Committee session on campaigning earlier this month and have produced the following priority areas:

Pubs. We will react to threats of closure to pubs where there is community support by participating in campaign activity and utilising the CAMRA online Save Our Pub resources. We will also help promote pub beer festivals; Organise our Ale Trail, maintain up to date What Pub information and the Pub Scratchings entries in Sussex Drinker. We will also continue to organise branch socials in pubs, but with more consideration to supporting those pubs in need of support. Using Pub of the Year and other mechanisms, award our branch pubs with a range of certificates including Community Hero awards for service during COVID19.

Breweries. Provide more advice and support, particularly to new micro-breweries, through our Brewery Liaison Officers. Showcase Sussex breweries at our beer festival(s), encouraging them to brew ‘festival’ beers and present more awards to eligible Sussex brewers. We will also facilitate visits to breweries which will be open to as many members as practical.

Membership. All of the above campaigning activity is under-pinned by our membership. We are developing a plan to increase our membership drawing from a wider demographic from our very diverse branch population. We also want to encourage existing members to become more involved in our campaigning activity and I hope you will respond positively to our increased collective focus on campaigning and engagement with you.

You will also see a change in our meeting structures. Much more of the administration of the branch will be conducted in Committee meetings. Branch Meetings will be more engaging with a focus on single issues (e.g. Good Beer Guide selection) and / or opportunities to socialise and discuss real ale and cider.

Plans are underway to have guest speakers at future Branch Meetings and possibly collaboration with breweries for beer tasting events. We also want to make it easier for you to hear from us on what we are or could be doing and for us to listen to you. We have recently improved our website infrastructure but we want to introduce social media to increase engagement and respond more quickly to campaigning opportunities.

Volunteering should be enjoyable and there are lots of ways you can help your branch without committing more than a few hours a month. We are always in need of help with staffing our beer festival(s) and we have several opportunities for volunteers to act as a liaison point for breweries in our branch area. Please get in touch with me or any of the Committee members to get involved.

Finally take a look at the National CAMRA website, it has so much useful information for members interested in volunteering. It also makes it easy to support National Campaigns by signing petitions and lobbying MPs by just clicking a link.

Yours sincerely and cheers!

Jason Phillips

BSD Branch Chairman