A look back at 2020; a time of resilience, hope and community

Panoramic shot of Oxo Tower with blue light

Many have said that 2020 is a year we will never forget. We wanted to look back at a year of resilience, hope and community.

Staff and volunteers packing food and supplies in the food hub at our neighbourhood centre

We started January with our annual ‘Young at Heart’ Senior’s party, a great antidote to the loneliness experienced by many older people during winter. In February our young leaders asked Lambeth Council Leader, Jack Hopkins and Vauxhall MP, Florence Eshalomi, to help create opportunities for youth across the borough. Bargehouse hosted ‘Mars & Beyond,’ an interactive exhibition exploring the future of our environment.

With Covid-19 on the rise, we closed our neighbourhood centre. Our staff changed how they worked overnight, grappling with Teams and Zoom to ensure our local community, tenants and small businesses were supported. Throughout March, Oxo Tower turned blue every Thursday night in appreciation of NHS staff and key workers. In April our Community teams began trialling online activities, checking in with people by phone and delivering meals to locals in need. Please visit the Hub for information, advice and activities. When the Waterloo Festival went virtual in May, we teamed up with Illuminated River to bring virtual art workshops to 15 local young people aged 9+.

After detailed risk assessments by our Property and Facilities Management team, our neighbourhood centre reopened safely in June. The professional and personal approach of our Nursery was praised.

We loved the Coin Street Nursery reopening and how our children were entertained. We appreciate all of the hard work.

- Parents of Nursery children

The Black Lives Matter conversations happening all over the UK inspired one of our young leaders, Jaemii-Lee, aged 10, to create an artwork that expressed the power of the movement. Oxo Tower Wharf shone purple every night in solidarity.

Jaemii-Lee with her artwork on the digital billboard on Waterloo Bridge

We have a diversity policy in place and are actively listening to our staff about what else we can do, as we believe that inclusiveness is at the heart of our work and our neighbourhood.

During the summer our Community team set up a food bank and were busy delivering over 200 meals a week. In July our Commercial team welcomed five new businesses to the South Bank including Limin', The Green Room, Hartex, Hola Guacamole, Clin:ik Aesthetics and We Are We Wear. Bernie Spain Gardens remained open throughout the lockdown highlighting the importance of parks for those without private gardens. By August our Bernie Spain Gardens campaign had been supported by over 200 people. Kings college students were welcomed to our neighbourhood centre in September. We supported local artist, Xavi Art, to launch his first exhibition during Black History Month in October. The London Photo Show returned to Bargehouse for the third year, featuring the work of more than 50 international photographers.

We were blown away in November by sisters Tilly and Dotty (9 and 7 years old) who cycled almost 300 miles and raised £1,400 from an initial target of £500 for the Coin Street Nursery. Studio 1 at the Colombo Centre became a Donation Station, collecting groceries, toiletries, toys and artwork for care packages that went to seniors, families and vulnerable adults. In December we encouraged people to support independent businesses seriously affected by Covid-19 and launched ‘Christmas on the South Bank' at Gabriel’s Wharf and Oxo Tower Wharf. This month, Councillor Jasmine Ali from Southwark thanked our young leaders for helping to create a mental health support service for local young people.

People enjoying the Christmas on the South Bank event

Last year was challenging, but we are proud of supporting 1,040 local residents weekly and welcoming 6 new businesses to our site. Our Property and Facilities Management team worked tirelessly to ensure people were safe throughout our site. Our Commercial team supported small businesses during a year with unprecedented difficulties. Our Community team delivered 15,747 meals, 246 grocery bags and 913 activity packs, keeping local residents afloat. Our Family Support team learnt how to use Zoom to run storytelling, advice and support sessions for local parents struggling with young children. Our Nursery remains open and supports the childcare needs of local families. All of our staff, whether supporting in person, working from home or on furlough, have made it possible for us to keep going. We are really thankful for each and every staff member.

We have started 2021 with a new beginning, our new website. We're still making improvements, so we'd love your feedback. Complete our survey here for the chance to win a £25 Love2shop voucher! If you have an idea for a blog, want to share your experience at Coin Street or tell us about something special happening in the community, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with Geena at g.patel@coinstreet.org.

Stay safe and take care,