Bede is a local community charity. We believe strong, confident communities enable people to flourish.
In 2018 we celebrated 80 years since our foundation as a Settlement in 1938 – the year local residents raised £400 to buy the old bakery at 351 Southwark Park Road so that a group of young, idealistic Christians could live in community and help their neighbours in whatever ways they could.
They named it Bede House, after the great Saxon scholar who lived his entire life in a monastery beside the trading seaport of Jarrow. The world passed his door, just as it did through the docks near Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in 1938.
At Bede House the young volunteers learnt as much – if not more – from those they set out to help, and it is this principle of mutual learning between people of different backgrounds and circumstances that holds true in the professional, secular charity that Bede has become today.
Bede has done many different things since opening its doors: relief work during the bombing of World War 2, community relations during times of great change (such as when the docks closed) and teaching local people how to use computers when they first began to change our lives.
Our focus has always been to support the most vulnerable people in our community, and today we run four key services:
Supported volunteering, social and development activities for adults who have a Learning Disability.
The Starfish Project for women and men experiencing domestic violence and abuse.
The Youth Adventure Project for young people aged 8 to 19.
Community Engagement work supporting local people to improve community life.
Each service aims to bring people of different backgrounds, skills and experiences together to build long-term, supportive relationships that help to create new opportunities for those involved.
According to government reports, some of our local neighbourhoods are still among the 10% most deprived in the country, with over 44% of children growing up in poverty. We work hard to reach those who need our support the most. Bede’s flexible “local and personalised” approach is very effective in helping people overcome hardships and achieve their potential as active citizens in the community. Bede achieves so much, it is hard to tell the full story. However, all of what we do contributes to these four great aims of Bede House Association:
- Alleviating the Effects of Poverty and Increasing Education and Employment Prospects
- Reducing Isolation and Finding Fresh Purpose in Life
- Improving Health and Well-Being
- Caring for our Environment
Bede is on the threshold of an exciting new future. The Abbeyfield Estate, where we are based, is being redeveloped and our existing Bede Centre will be demolished. However, Southwark Council has planning permission to build us a brand new, purpose designed Centre on the same estate. Work has already started, and it is hoped that the new Centre will be ready in 2022.
It is a wonderful opportunity but, like in 1938, we’re going to need the help of others to raise the £1.2million needed to buy the 125 year lease, equip the building and cover the costs of the move.