Google Street View image used with permission

Barclays Bank’s Rotherhithe Surrey Quays branch will close on Wednesday 6 January 2021, the bank has announced.

According to the bank’s report on the proposed closure, only 72 customers use the branch exclusively for their banking (ie do not also bank online or by phone).

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the number of counter transactions had dropped by 30 per cent in two years.

Customers will be directed to the branches in Tower Bridge Road (1.8 miles away) or Borough High Street (2.3 miles from Plough Way) instead.

Neil Coyle MP tweeted about his meeting with bank officials:

If you’re a Co-op member and buy own-brand groceries at their food stores, you can now give 2p of every £1 you spend to support Surrey Docks Farm.

The farm would like to train 40 young farmers, aged 8-13, to care for farm animals and grow their own fruit and vegetables. The aim is to deliver free veg boxes to families on low incomes.

If you’re a Co-op member, click here to select Surrey Docks Farm as the beneficiary of your spend.

A number of young carers in Southwark, aged between eight and 16, have taken part in an online multi-arts project over the past few months.

The art:space project was developed by creative arts charity, Create, and supported by British Land, investor and developer of the 53 acre Canada Water masterplan, which includes Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.

With many young carers in Southwark, and across the UK, faced with increased pressures and hours due to Covid-19 this year, the interactive project aimed to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and offer young carers time away from their caring responsibilities.

Recent research from Carers Trust found that 69% of young carers are feeling less connected to others since the pandemic, while 31% reported a weekly increase of 30 hours or more in the time spent caring.

The art:space project explored three different art forms including drama, visual art and music, and took place virtually for the first time. Activities encouraged the young carers to develop a variety of interconnected artistic and technical skills, while also boosting their self-esteem and wellbeing, and reducing their sense of isolation.

Around 20 young carers from Southwark took part this summer. All were members of Imago, a local charity that provides support services to young carers in Southwark, based in the shopping centre at Surrey Quays.

The project has been run in conjunction with Surrey Quays since 2013, and this digital pilot ensured that local young carers could still participate at a time when needs were likely to be even greater.

Ian Moore, Centre Manager of Surrey Quays at British Land, said: “We have built a great relationship with both Create and Imago over the years, which has helped hundreds of local young carers take a break from their caring responsibilities through the arts. This year was no different and we enjoyed bringing even more young carers on board, especially at a time when interacting with others and supporting those in our local communities has never been so important.”

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive of arts charity Create said: “We love working with British Land on the art:space project. This creative project has been especially important this year, when the pandemic has made the lives of young carers across the UK even tougher. By reaching these young carers in Southwark with the power of the creative arts, we were able to give them time and space to express themselves, meet other young carers, and boost their sense of wellbeing. It is vital that, together, we make our young carers feel valued and supported, as they deserve.”

Mobile network O2 is expanding its partnership with charity Hubbub, with the aim to give 10,000 unused smartphones to vulnerable individuals in the most deprived areas of the UK.

The scheme was trialled earlier this year in Southwark, with more than 500 devices distributed to residents of the borough. SE16-based groups Bede and Time & Talents both took part in the trial.

The Community Calling campaign will see smartphones first distributed in the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark – locations with high levels of inequality, poverty, exclusion and employment challenges.

A national rollout will then follow in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Swansea and Glasgow.

As part of the campaign, O2 will be donating 12 months of free connectivity to the beneficiaries, which will include unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data per month for a full year.

Katie and Jay attend Bede House in SE16 (a centre for adults with learning difficulties) for social reasons. However, due to the pandemic, their main social outlet in life is closed at the moment – which means that many of the people who visit Bede House are feeling lonely and disconnected.

The smartphones they received via Community Calling have enabled both Katie and Jay to stay in touch with the centre and their friends – they can access the centre’s app, join daily virtual meetings and activities, and share photos with each other.

Mary is a single parent who, pre COVID-19, supported herself and her son by working as a cleaner. When the country went into lockdown in March 2020, she was unable to work and ineligible to claim benefits. Unemployed and at risk of homelessness, she was disconnected from the outside world and struggling to cope. Community Calling was the lifeline she needed – it provided her with a smartphone, which allowed her to apply for jobs. The next week she received a job offer and she now proudly works as a cashier at Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.

Mark Evans, Chief Executive of O2, said: “Connectivity has been vital to keeping the country running during the pandemic, but if you’re unable to get online you’re likely to miss out on a lot of support. We’ve already seen the positive impact Community Calling has had on vulnerable people in Southwark, so we’re pleased to announce this expansion and tackle digital exclusion elsewhere across the country. We’re determined to support the people who need it most.”

Gavin Ellis, director and co-founder at Hubbub, said: “It’s been heart-warming to see the positive impact receiving a smartphone through the Community Calling project has already had on so many people’s lives. Being connected to loved ones and accessing essential services is easily taken for granted, but is still not a reality for too many people.

“We’re looking forward to working with O2 to expand Community Calling to get more people connected and prevent unnecessary electrical waste. We’re calling on individuals and businesses with spare smartphones to donate them to somebody who needs a device to stay connected at this difficult time.”

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Southwark cabinet member for jobs, culture and skills, said: “Digital isolation has never been more noticeable than during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is so important we support our most vulnerable residents to stay connected to loved ones and vital services during this time, and support them with the digital skills they need to access these services and support.

“We are pleased to be hosting a second round of the Community Calling project in Southwark. This project has already supported hundreds of people in Southwark to stay connected. It is important we build on this innovative programme and deliver even more vital support to those most in need in our communities.

“So, if you are a Southwark resident or business with some old tech gathering dust in a draw, please consider how this unused device could benefit someone who needs it in your community. Help us achieve our aim of enduring all residents have the digital tools they need to live and work in a digitally inclusive borough.

Anyone in the UK can get involved by donating unused smartphones. It’s easy to sign up online – you’ll receive a free-post donation box to post your old and workable smartphone, to be refurbished by trusted partner Reconome. It will be data-wiped, sanitised and redistributed with user guides and PAYG SIM cards.

Alternatively, those who don’t have an old smartphone can choose to donate the cost of one month’s top-up for the beneficiaries by visiting hubbub.org.uk/donate-data-to-community-calling-resources.

O2 and Hubbub are also encouraging businesses to support the campaign by organising bulk device donations, or providing collection boxes in their offices (where appropriate).

If you’d like to support the campaign and donate your old smartphones to Community Calling, visit http://www.hubbub.org.uk/communitycalling/ for more details.

Repair work on the lock gates at South Dock Marina begins this week, meaning that no boats will be able to enter or leave Greenland Dock and South Dock till next spring.

The lock is the responsibility of Southwark Council which is spending several hundred thousand pounds on the works.

Earlier this year the council said that the gates – installed in 1988 – are in “serious need of refurbishment”.

Plans to build 30 new homes on top of two existing housing association blocks in Bermondsey have been approved by Southwark councillors.

Antony House and Roderick House are two 1950s blocks with 16 flats each.

The scheme – by Apex Airspace and the Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association – was considered at Southwark’s planning sub-committee B last month.

Of the 30 new homes, 26 would be let at London Affordable Rent level with the remainder being at social rent level.

You can watch the committee’s consideration of the application here:

Just weeks after the news that Bermondsey-born Tommy Steele is to be knighted, his 1957 autobiographical musical film The Tommy Steele Story is being released on Blu-ray and DVD this week.

Sir Tommy is patron of the Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society and the local group wrote to congratulate him when his knighthood was announced in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours.

A blue plaque honoring Sir Tommy’s Bermondsey roots can be seen at Nickleby House in George Row on the Dickens Estate.

Traffic turning right from Southwark Park Road to Jamaica road pictured blocking the cycleway

More than 800 people have signed a petition calling for the ban on traffic turning right from Southwark Park Road to Jamaica Road to be reversed.

The banned turn was introduced as part of the opening of Cycleway 4 along Jamaica Road.

Queuing traffic turning right conflicts with the cycleway which switches between the north and south sides of Jamaica Road at the junction with Southwark Park Road and West Lane.