After leading London Bubble theatre company for more than 30 years, Jonathan Petherbridge – known as Peth – has announced that he is to step down as creative director of the Rotherhithe-based charity at the end of this month. 

“I have enormously enjoyed my work with London Bubble bringing promenade shows to London parks, and making intergenerational projects with Londoners old and young – it’s been strong,” he said.

“I’ve worked with some wonderful people and I hope we’ve shown that theatre can be made in many ways, by many people and for many vital reasons.

“Working with Bubble for this length of time has allowed me to see how a company can develop theatre makers from its own community. We have a fantastic team of young artists who have come through our Young Theatre Makers programme.  We have trustees and advisors who originally joined our children’s group or youth theatre. We’ve also seen two projects, Make Believe Arts and Cardboard Citizens, sprout and grow into separate companies. Now Speech Bubbles continues to expand as it works in partnership with other companies across the UK.

“This year COVID-19 has delivered an unexpected and significant blow to our income. To survive, we have to draw on reserves, maximise income and rethink how we connect with our participants – so it’s a good time for our board and for me to move on and look to the future, bearing in mind the landscape after lockdown.

“I wish London Bubble well and I am sure the company will continue to invent new ways to make theatre that surprises and energises our community.” 

Sir Simon Hughes, chair of London Bubble, said: “The departure this summer of Peth, Jonathan Petherbridge, from the leadership of London Bubble Theatre will mark the end of a hugely creative, exciting and memorable three decades for our brave, innovative and socially engaged company. Rooted in our south London communities, Bubble led by Peth has introduced thousands of individuals, families and groups to the transforming and encouraging experience of making and experiencing theatre.

“We thank Peth sincerely for all his huge commitment, determination and energy given to London Bubble. The company will do our very best to make sure that difficult times do not prevent us from continuing to transform through theatre the lives of those many people who London Bubble can benefit most.”                                                                 

Bede House and Time & Talents are among the local groups working with environmental charity Hubbub and network operator O2 to encourage people to donate old or unused smartphones to digitally disconnected members of the community, as part of a trial to tackle digital exclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Community Calling’ trial will initially involve 800 handsets being distributed to residents of Southwark.

The pre-identified list of households has been put together by a number of local organisations, including SE16-based Bede and Time & Talents.

Their clients range from the elderly, those in low-income households, survivors of domestic abuse and asylum seekers. Within these groups, each organisation has identified those who would benefit most from a smartphone, based on providing access to essential services, online learning or getting connected to family and friends.

Local residents are being asked to donate unused smartphones which will then be data-wiped, cleaned and refurbished by Recono.me ready for redistribution.

O2 is donating an additional 300 handsets alongside providing pay as you go SIMs and credit to be used with the donated devices.

“Connectivity is a lifeline for so many at this time – and with so many smart devices sitting in drawers at home, this project provides the perfect opportunity to dust them off for a good cause,” said O2’s Tracey Herald.

“The Southwark community has been particularly affected by the recent pandemic, so we’re working in partnership with Hubbub, the local council and community groups to ensure we can distribute these devices to those who need them most. The trial will help us tackle digital exclusion and help the environment too.’

Gavin Ellis, co-founder of Hubbub, said: “Community Calling offers a simple way to get unused smartphones to people who need them most during the current pandemic, allowing them to access essential services, to educate their kids or to stay in touch with loved ones. Plus it has the bonus environmental benefit of avoiding electrical waste going to landfill or incineration.

“We’re trialling the approach with O2 in Southwark and if successful, we’ll look to replicate it elsewhere in the UK.”

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

The Time & Talents Food Hub is helping to make sure over 60 local households have reliable access to food and essential supplies each week.

The charity already has a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, but the following long life items would be gratefully received to supplement its stocks.

Pasta
Rice
Tinned tomatoes
Tinned soup
Baked beans
Pasta sauce
Cereal
Biscuits
Loo roll

If you are able to add any of these items to your shopping and are able to safely drop them off , please deliver them to Time & Talents at The Old Mortuary, St Marychurch Street, Rotherhithe, SE16 4JE on a Wednesday morning before midday.

At present, Time & Talents can only accept donations of these items before 12pm on Wednesdays.

You can also make a financial contribution to support the Food Hub here.

Strictly singer Hayley Sanderson has teamed up with survivors of domestic violence to create a charity cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Stronger’.

It is a song recorded by survivors, on their phones, in their homes during COVOID-19 isolation.

The single will raise money for SE16-based Bede House’s domestic violence team and nationwide domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid. All proceeds will go exclusively towards supporting sufferers of domestic violence.

So far more than £2,000 has been raised towards a £10,000 target.

On Friday, volunteers and staff from Time & Talents delivered food to more than 120 local people who’d requested help.

Details of how to donate food will be announced soon, but in the meantime the charity would welcome contributions of strong ‘bags for life’ and cardboard boxes with handles.

These can be brought to the Old Mortuary in St Marychurch Street on Thursday.

https://twitter.com/Time_Talents/status/1256918789779795970

Local charity the Bede House Association is looking for a trustee to join its council with skills in construction and property management.

Bede has deep roots in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and supports victims of domestic abuse, young people aged 8-19, individuals with learning disabilities and isolated seniors.

Find out about the voluntary role and how to apply here.

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funding arm, City Bridge Trust, kickstarted the year by making £5 million in grants to help tackle disadvantage in the capital.

SE16’s own Bede House Association is one of the beneficiaries, receiving £260,000 for a project breaking cycles of domestic violence through counselling and legal advice.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:“London’s charities are working hard to fight inequality and disadvantage, improving lives, boosting employment, and reducing isolation.

“We want to help build a capital city where everyone can thrive.

“Nearly one third of Londoners are living in poverty, and over one million of those live in a working family.

“Together we aim to consign these statistics to the history books.”

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 8,000 grants totalling over £400 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

As the 400th anniversary year of the Mayflower sailing from Rotherhithe gets under way, there’s another chance for local groups to apply for funds to support related projects.

The Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund – set up by Southwark Council, British Land and United St Saviour’s Charity – has a budget of £25,000 for its third round of grants.

Applications for this round close on 31 January. More details here.

Tesco shoppers in Southwark can help Surrey Docks Farm restore their wildlife pond by putting their blue tokens in the designated slot.

Surrey Docks Farm is one of three projects in the borough which will share funds from this quarter’s allocation of funds from the sale of reusable ‘bags for life’.

Customers’ votes are used to decide which project gets the largest share of the money.

Surrey Docks Farm says: “We need help restoring the farm’s wildlife pond for our outdoor learning projects with children and young people.

“The restoration will involve children and benefit local wildlife!”

You can vote for Surrey Docks Farm in any Tesco store in Southwark till the end of March.