New lease of life for much-loved Lewisham community centre

Published on 23/05/2022

Bouncy castles, kickboxing and a roller disco combined to make a fun day for local residents in the newly refurbished Lewington community centre.

Over 200 residents were given a taste of exercise classes that will soon be offered at the centre through ‘Get, Set, Go’, a health and wellbeing programme delivered by L&Q and funded by Sport England through National Lottery Funding.

Attendees were entertained with an energetic mixture of activities that included rock climbing, face painting, dance fitness, gardening, arts and crafts, and a football session with coaches from championship club, Millwall FC.

Children playing football

Children playing football at a session led by Millwall FC 

Perfectly in tune with its vibrant location, local Caribbean eatery, Plush, served up generous helpings of fried chicken, curried goat and rice and peas in the centre’s brand-new community café.

To keep the crowd entertained, a DJ manned the decks whilst residents took to the open mic with renditions of popular songs.

The launch also gave local resident, Pembe Kumbi, a platform to promote her new business as an African princess party organiser.

Alongside recreational activities, the event also had a serious purpose – linking residents up with support and advice to help them weather the cost-of-living crisis. Amongst other community groups, L&Q’s employment support team were on hand to provide guidance, sign up new users to the service, and share information about local job opportunities.

Located within the Silwood estate, the Lewington centre has been given a significant upgrade by the charitable housing association.

Originally opened in 2008, changes include a renovated IT suite with 15 new computers, improvements to the building’s interiors, and a large walkway leading to a new café space equipped with an industrial kitchen.

The investment is part of a wider aim to revive the underutilised hub and transform it into a community asset centred around connection and learning.

Creating jobs in the local area, the cafe will provide a business opportunity for a social enterprise or charity to take over the reins.

The idea of a community café came directly from residents who asked to increase the flexibility and use of the centre. Consultation workshops, ‘get involved’ events and online questionnaires have maximised community engagement throughout the process.

Set to launch later this month, ‘Get Set Go’s range of inclusive and engaging sports activities will be offered to residents living in areas of high deprivation, with average levels of physical activity, and within a mile of 5,000 L&Q homes.

Data from the Silwood estate shows that 58% of adults are classed as overweight or obese, 25% as physically inactive, and 37% as economically inactive.

A similar refurbishment of the Seddon centre in Leyton will take begin later this year.

Matt Corbett, Director of L&Q Foundation, said:

“From the start of our placemaking efforts at the Silwood Estate, we have been committed to working in partnership to build on the unique strengths of this thriving community.

“This event gave us a chance to showcase the improved centre with its first-class facilities for local people to enjoy and be proud of. With no other cafes nearby, this amenity will make a huge difference to the local community, offering a place for them to stay connected with others close to home.”