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How a homeless charity raised profile with hard hitting creative

How a homeless charity raised profile with hard hitting creative

Best practice from B&W Studio.

Background

St George’s Crypt has been providing care and support for homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged people since 1930. Don Robins first opened the doors of the Crypt to alleviate the considerable distress of many people who found themselves with next to nothing as a result of the depression.

It’s a Christian charity based beneath the thriving church of St George’s in Leeds and welcomes people from every faith. The profile of people who access the Crypt’s services is complex and a growing number have multiple needs including alcohol, drugs and mental health issues. The age range continues to decrease and those aged under 25 accessing the service is now more than 50%.

Challenge

The Crypt needs considerable funds to maintain the vital services that benefit around 200 people daily. It has worked with Leeds-based design agency B&W Studio for six years and during that time the agency has played a pivotal role in producing award-winning appeal material, logos, websites etc that have helped raise the charity’s profile and donations.

When it came to producing the annual report the Crypt tasked B&W Studios with designing a brochure that would communicate strongly and vibrantly to the corporate sector and encourage it to donate. The realities of Crypt life needed to be communicated in a compelling yet engaging way.

Strategy

Alcohol is seen by the Crypt as probably the central issue which needed to be spelt out in statistics and impact for readers. The charity was keen to recount the stories of some Crypt case studies that had either proved successful or who were considered ‘work in progress’.

B&W felt that the brochure needed to be both educational and thought provoking and decided that almost life-size reproduction of the powerful stories of six of the refuge’s clients would command the most attention. The Crypt is also mindful of balancing well-produced material with effectiveness so print and paper costs needed to be heavily scrutinised and the report would have to be finished in a simple way with no lavish finishes or binding techniques.

Implementation

B&W Studio commissioned internationally renowned reportage photographer John Angerson to capture stark, close-up portraits of the six Crypt clients. Crypt workers Lauren Coley and Martin Patterson put together the harrowing accounts of the impact alcohol had had on the six mens’ lives while copywriter Nick Hynes produced the introduction.

B&W Studio then boldly reproduced the pictures, stories, statistics on the effects of alcoholism, and the Crypt’s accounts in an A2–sized 12-page, unstitched document that was roughly the size of a small blanket a rough sleeper might use.

The document was honestly entitled ‘Annual report and 6 accounts’. Sadly, during the making of the report one of the six men featured, Dougie, succumbed to the long-term effects of alcohol addiction aged just 35.

Results

During the Crypt’s involvement with B&W Studio, its finances have been very encouraging, particularly with the 75th anniversary appeal, where the charity succeeded in raising £750,000 during the year for a mix of capital and revenue projects.

2010 marks the 80th anniversary for the Crypt and just recently the refuge completed a £1.5m expansion and renovation programme that it does not believe would have been possible without the profile raising work of B&W Studio.

The ‘annual report and 6 accounts’ was very favourably received and B&W Studio decided to enter it into the 2010 Design Week awards. Incredibly, the document not only took the ‘Best Annual Report’ category but also scooped the exalted ‘Best of Show’.

The icing on the cake was when the Crypt brand was admitted into the award’s ‘Hall of Fame’ alongside giants like Apple, The Guardian and Selfridges. It achieved this accolade as this was fourth time in six years the Cypt’s annual reports designed by B&W had appeared in the prestigious Design Week awards.

The judges praised the work highly saying it “demonstrates how a blend of great design and storytelling can succeed when money is tight. We hope that St George’s Crypt’s entry into the Hall of Fame will encourage more charities and their designers to be bolder in their work.”

AJR
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