How Covid-19 has affected South Bank and what the future holds

Craig describes how Covid-19 has affected South Bank and what the future holds


My name is Craig Hurring, I am the Marketing and Communications Director of South Bank Employers’ Group, known locally as SBEG.

SBEG is a membership organisation which Coin Street is a founding member of, established 30 years ago when South Bank was a bleak, run down place, known as the home of ‘Cardboard City.’ SBEG was formed by the area’s businesses, cultural and arts organisations, social enterprises, landowners, public agencies, developers, and education providers to champion South Bank. And ever since it has played a key role in the improvements to the area that have resulted in the incredible neighbourhood, we all love today.

SBEG’s work in South Bank has evolved over the years, and we now deliver a complex range of services, including ensuring the area is safe and clean, marketing South Bank as a tourist destination, running events, and co-ordinating development and construction projects. Since 2014, we have also been the delivery agent for South Bank Business Improvement District (South Bank BID), which enables us to work with an even greater range of businesses in South Bank to support their needs.

I’ve worked for SBEG for 3 years but have enjoyed visiting South Bank as a member of both the Southbank Centre and the BFI for many years – so it’s definitely a case of happily mixing work and pleasure! Coin Street chairs SBEG’s Marketing Group and Venues Group too, both of which I am responsible for, so I’ve been working closely with Coin Street from day one – and it has always been a wonderful experience! Coin Street is essential to South Bank retaining its distinctive personality, which helps to make it such a great place to live, visit or work in. 

Before the pandemic I would often see an exhibition at the Barge House, connect with colleagues and neighbours at the South Bank and Waterloo Forum or meet friends at one of the many restaurants or street food stalls in and around Gabriel’s Wharf.

This last year has been like no other. Covid-19 has affected local residents and South Bank’s businesses, with culture, tourism, hospitality and travel being hit especially hard. What has really impressed me is the way our neighbourhood has come together to respond to this challenge. By working with our two local MPs and other partners and businesses to create a recovery plan for the area, we’ve shown the strength of South Bank is working together. Whether pushing for vital financial support for our local arts organisations or small restaurants, or delivering urgent portaloos on the Queen’s Walk, we are stronger together!

Through South Bank BID we’ve just started to highlight some inspiring local stories, showing how businesses have responded to the challenges of the pandemic. These include the Sea Containers London ‘Nominate Your Hero’ campaign to recognise key workers, the development of the OXO community kitchen to provide food packages to the vulnerable and homeless and how Coin Street’s community team adapted overnight to support local families, residents and a community in need. I hope once finished, this collection will provide a rich source of inspiration to all of us.

This pandemic has impacted not only South Bank, but all of London. Seeing the city’s world-famous landmarks completely empty has been a strange sight as I’m used to London being so busy. I’m really proud of the work SBEG and South Bank BID are doing now at a City level too, to help South Bank and London recover from this difficult time.

Bringing visitors and travellers back to our neighbourhood will be a focus of our work over the coming months, along with continuing to making South Bank a better place in an ever-changing world. We are also committed to making opportunities available to local residents when they become more available again.

The more we can all work, rest and play in South Bank, the quicker we all recover!

I can’t wait to be back in South Bank soon, and I look forward to seeing Coin Street staff, residents, businesses and community on my travels!

Craig Hurring

Craig Hurring

Read the local stories Craig mentions on the South Bank BID website here: