Over 9 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – say they are often or always lonely. What can we do as a community to prevent this? Rotherhithe based charity ‘Time and Talents’ offers a solution :
Despite the rapid advancements of technology and social media promising greater connectivity than ever before, the ‘epidemic of loneliness’ seems to be a nationwide issue. With a lack of social connection proven to have a significant effect comparable to other leading indicators to risk of early death, such an epidemic is not one to be taken lightly. This is an issue which is at the heart of the local charity ‘Time and Talents’ ( based in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey), dedicated to promoting an atmosphere of mutual support in order to tackle social isolation, ensuring everyone feels involved in the local community.
Set up in 1887 by a group of devoted women, Time and Talents has a rich history that reflects the crucial need for a network of support within local areas. Victorian Bermondsey was rife with poverty generated by the docks and local slums. With an almost proto-feminist mindset, the women who formed the charity set out to address the extreme disparities between the benefiters of mass-industrialisation and those who suffered in the poverty stricken areas of Bermondsey; they were determined to defend the lives of younger women who, in such a society, were simply expected to be obedient and decorative .
Joyce Grenfell : comedienne and past director of T&T
Although social issues in the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe area have evidently changed in the last 130 years, (and with the introduction of the welfare state after the war) the charity continues to respond to changing needs, offering a multitude of solutions and activities which address different manifestations of social isolation. Culture, history and identity feed into Time and Talent’s exuberant range of activities and events; tailored to the differing needs of the current community. Whether that be in the form of art and crafts activities for children, the T&T Green Team (gardening workshops open to all abilities and ages), or the ‘Breath of Life’ activity of singing for better health, Time and Talents has it all. It is clearly a charity with an inclusive perspective, dedicated to constructing an organisation that can adapt to anyone’s and everyone’s needs.
On the right shows T&T’s ‘secret garden’
After visiting the Time and Talents community centre at the Old Mortuary in Rotherhithe, the atmosphere of inclusivity and mutual support became quickly apparent. Despite my visit coinciding with a typically British, rainy summer day, the generally buoyant and vibrant community feel of the centre was still able to shine through.
The garden on site made a particular impression during my visit, not only because of its well kept colourful appearance, but also because of the blatant amount of care it has received. With gardening being attributed to aiding stress, anxiety and depression (getting your hands dirty in the garden has been proven to literally increase serotonin levels), as well as combating high blood pressure – it is unsurprising that Time and Talents strongly promote it as a source of community engagement and benefit. This is yet another piece of evidence to show how the charity considers the mental and physical well-being of their community members holistically, which may be a factor lacking within certain aspects of our state funded healthcare system.
Some sketches and watercolours I produced inspired from T&T gardens
Whilst looking into Time and Talents, I was fortunate to attend one of its ‘Cycling without Age’ events in Southwark Park – an idea inspired by Ole Kassow in 2012. The activity itself involves volunteers (or ‘pilots’) giving bike rides to the elderly who may lack the mobility to “feel the wind in their hair” themselves. Sarah Gibb, Director of the charity, states that “whether housebound, living in a care home or in sheltered housing, Southwark’s older people are regularly enjoying Cycling Without Age rides around local parks and other open spaces…the event with Heidi Alexander (Deputy Mayor for Transport) and Will Norman (London’s walking and cycling commissioner – see on this website ) was a lovely celebration of the impact this programme has on local people and a way to say thank you to our volunteers”. Un-dampened by rainy conditions, this event presented a real sense of giving back to the community, and the mutual care and respect among the people within it. It was great to see individuals across generations getting involved to help connect communities in their local area.
Some pictures taken from the recent ‘Cycling Without Age’ event
If you would like to find out more about some of the activities Time and Talents are running over the summer, you can find them on pages 8-9 of this local community magazine.
Written by Clemency Scott – currently an a level student based in Cornwall with an interest in art, writing, and environmental issues.
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