Recently, Big Local Works and Blue Bermondsey BID undertook some ground-breaking local research to inform our future work in the area. We wanted to look in detail at the shops, services, and infrastructure local people want, but also to dive deeper into factors local people care about, around culture, community and local identity. We wanted to know what mattered to people in the area, and what barriers there are to a thriving, more connected community and economy that meets the needs of its residents.
Below is a summary of the key findings:
Bermondsey has strong, tightly-knit communities, yet the strength of these communities occasionally results in the exclusion of outsiders and limited inter-community collaboration. Many expressed a wish for increased interconnectivity and inclusivity between communities and greater openness.
Bermondsey has a wealth of community assets, but there’s a lack of awareness about these resources among many residents. Individuals sometimes describe a need for local support or activities, while unaware of existing opportunities and support.
Many local residents are hopeful about ongoing area developments but feel excluded from the developer-led regeneration process that ignores them. Having their voices heard in the regeneration decisions is vital to them – but even more so, they want to know there are real opportunities to participate and benefit from changes.
Many Bermondsey residents possess a deep sense of local identity rooted in the area’s history. But some of these historical narratives crowd out more diverse experiences. Some reputational issues for the area regarding its history of intolerance persist, despite some people’s wish to move on. Recognising a broader range of hopeful stories and experiences could help make the area more inclusive and welcoming.
Despite a history of economic decline, people want to see the area thrive again. Residents see potential in new developments but stress the need for businesses to adapt to changes, and to find what makes them and the area unique.
For many, the area should serve as a communal gathering spot, emphasising unique experiences over standard shopping outlets. While essential services are vital, residents want more intimate and community-centric offerings.
Residents are open to upscale establishments as long as they remain inclusive, but they’re wary of factors like housing changes that could push out existing community members. The emphasis is on balancing accessibility with improvement.
The “Blue” area is viewed as a potential hub for local economic participation at all levels, including for micro-traders and entrepreneurs.
Finally, there were some concerns raised about the idea of the Blue becoming a place seen as being set up primarily for outside, touristic customers – as some other local ‘attractions’ have become. But without outside business, can the economy thrive again?
As a result of this work, we developed the idea of a ‘People-Powered Regeneration.’ Our priorities are:
We want to foster a thriving sustainable local economy, to meet local needs, and to help provide easier access to new economic opportunities.
What we’ve done so far….
• Developed and delivered Enterprise and start-up training and support for the new Blue Market
• Secured the lease for the Blue Market to be run directly by the local community – thereby avoiding its transfer to outside contractors focused only on their own profit
• Supported 50+ small businesses to trade at the market
• Developed a new easy-start package to ensure everybody locally has a chance to access a stall with low risk and set up cost
• Provided help with marketing and social media, training on finance and a range of other business skills
• Helped aspiring entrepreneurs access Southwark Council’s Pioneers Fund
• Developed the ‘Made in Bermondsey’ Barrow Market stall – a pop-up stall to provide additional exposure for existing local businesses, and to allow them to test and trade at the heart of Bermondsey
• Developed extensive employment/ employability work to support local people to access the job market through a range of employment projects, including special support for young people
• Developed major capital projects, bringing in C. £3m in capital investment for local businesses and residents
• Redeveloped the Blue Market with a £2m grant from the GLA
• Provided affordable workshop/ meeting and workspace at Big Local Works
• Supported development and aided consultation for other new capital projects – providing challenges where necessary
• Continuing to work on developing new creative enterprise spaces
• Further development of the Blue Market and its facilities
• Developing partnership programmes to support the development of local skills suitable for future jobs and employment opportunities in the area.
We want to build a strong, integrated, tolerant, and diverse community where everybody is welcome
What we’ve done so far…
We want to use communications to help people get the best out of Blue Bermondsey – and to help tell stories that reflect a complex past and a vibrant future.
What we’ve done so far…
If you would like more information about the People Powered Regeneration of South Bermondsey and the Made in Bermondsey project please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org