Interview with T&T Director Alex Evans

TIme And Talents 2 community space in Surrey Quays Shopping CentreNew community space Time and Talents 2

Surrey Quays Shopping Centre new community space Time and Talents 2 will be unveiled officially on Sunday 9th July. Time and Talents is a Settlement charity based in South-East London and offers community led services and support to the people of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey.

WISE16 interviewed Alex Evans, director of T&T who has been at Time and Talents for 2 years. He has been a chief executive of charities and social enterprises for the last few years, and first started his work with community charities over 20 years ago. He believes that T&T is the most genuinely community-driven organisation he has ever worked in.


– Alex, tell us about Time and Talents

AE / We’re a small local charity based in an Old mortuary in Rotherhithe. We specialise in creating a happy, healthy community through fun, friendship and mutual support, and worked with around 5000 people last year. We’re especially proud of our work with vulnerable older people and people with disabilities, who can become very isolated in the area.

– How long have Time and Talents being established in Rotherhithe?

AE / We were set up in 1887 as part of the Settlement movement by ‘women of education and leisure’ who were concerned about the huge gap between rich and poor, and terrible living conditions in the local docks. It was a time of a lot of social turmoil, economic strife, and before the NHS and welfare state were even conceived. Nowadays, we’re a long way from ‘women of education and leisure’ but we still believe in mutual support and that communities should come together to help each live and thrive even in troubled times. Because the evidence of all these years is that it works!

Time & Talents has been around for 130 years this year, and 2017 also marks the launch of our second venue, T&T2 in Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, it’s turning out to be a special year in more ways than one!

– Where are the Time and Talents activities are held?

AE / Our main base has been the Old Mortuary for a long time, which is much nicer than it sounds – we say it’s the nicest mortuary in the world! It’s a beautiful, heritage building based in the leafy area of Rotherhithe, just behind Rotherhithe station. Every year we open our doors to the whole of London for Open house weekend.

But T&T2, our additional space in this new, quirky, modern shop space at Surrey Quays Centre will make a huge difference. The Old Mortuary is a quiet oasis, hidden away – T&T2 at Surrey Quays is right in the throbbing heart of everything.

As well as those venues, we do outreach activities across the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe areagardening on local estates and sheltered housing, running the Rotherhithe Shed in the workshop of the London Bubble, and of course our Pub Clubs for older men which happen in pubs across the area.

– Tell us more about the new community space in Surrey Quays Shopping Centre?

Time and Talents 2 supporters.

AE / Well, we’d been working with British Land for a while, who are leading the Canada Water Masterplan in the area – they’d been hugely supportive with, for example, providing our telephone befriending service, and been donated their time at several community days. We had a chance conversation about the space and mentioned that we were running out of space to run things – and it all went from there. They’ve been really great to work with, and there’s a real sense of partnership, as well as with the shopping centre itself – Ian and the gang there have been really supportive.

We’re also hugely grateful to United St Saviours Charity, who are supporting the space in its first year – they do incredible work in Southwark and really understand community and the local picture. We were also very fortunate to have secured a some funding from Southwark Council’s High Street Challenge in their final round.

– What type of activities can we expect to see there?

AE / At our launch event on Sunday 9th July, from 12-3pm, you’ll be able to try out lots of the activities that will be taking place in the space, or have indeed already begun! There will be yoga, pilates and botanical drawing for adults, and funky dance and creative photography for kids. We’ll also be running paper flower making workshops for people of all ages to do together.

In future we’ll be welcoming in lots of our friends from the voluntary sector, as well as local businesses, the Council, and NHS, to ensure that people are getting better information and access to local services. We also want to work with as many local businesses as possible to help them benefit the local community – we have loads of volunteering and CSR opportunities which we hope they’ll take up.

Time & Talents collage

– Is there any special age group for which the activities are aimed?

AE / We’re for all ages – we literally have people at T&T from 0-99, with our kids playclub, gardening for all ages, and groups for older people. We hope to do a lot more family activities in the space, but also to make sure there’s lots of opportunities for generations to mix – eg ‘Crafty Beasts’ which is a project working with kids and older people together to learn crafts.

We also have big plans for expanding activities for older people. We already ran a big vintage tea party in May in partnership with the shopping centre, The Alzheimers’ Society, Age UK Lewisham and Southwark, and Age Exchange for Dementia Awareness Week, so we’ll be planning lots more similar events.

– Do people need to register to take part?

AE / We’ll be running lots of drop-in activities, although some things we ask you to book for. You can find information about them on our website: www.timeandtalents.org.uk. And a schedule at http://www.timeandtalents.org.uk/events/. It’s worth joining our mailing list in order to keep updated on upcoming activities and events, and also keep an eye on our lively facebook page!

– In a few words, what’s good about this space and its role in the local community in Rotherhithe?

AE / It’s a place for everyone, bringing community spirit right to heart of a busy shopping area, at a time of great change for the area – but also lots of opportunity. We want to T&T2 to bring a sense of community right into the fabric of people’s everyday lives. You come in to Surrey Quays for milk, bread, and a newspaper – and leave with a sense of connection to your whole community.

Don’t forget to come to the launch event on 9th July, 12pm-3pm for lots of family fun at T&T2, in the Canada Water Masterplan Hub opposite TESCO at Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Redriff Rd, London SE16 7LL


There is no doubt of the importance of Time and Talents in bringing the local community together at times when we need it most. This charity offer an opportunity to everyone, and they mean it. Don’t forget to pencil in the Time and Talents 2 Launch event in your calendar (and tell others about it). Pop in and explore the range of activities in both T&T sites.

About Alex Evans

Alex has worked in the community and voluntary sector for 16 years and came to T&T in July 2015. After 5 years as a youth and community worker at Holloway Neighbourhood Group community centre in North London, and after a period as a Local Authority and NHS commissioner, he went on to be Director of Community Learning for Vital Regeneration, a major community regeneration charity in Westminster. Here, he led an ESF consortium, a scale-up of a creative digital arts and literacy programme with the Private Equity Foundation, and a range of collaborative community CSR projects with companies including Microsoft, Timberland, Vivendi Universal and BNP Paribas.

He later became Chief Executive of RollingSound, a multimedia education outreach charity working across London and the South East. Most recently, he led a start-up technology social enterprise working with homelessness and community housing charity St Mungo’s Broadway and poverty alleviation charity Tech4All. Alex also has a PhD spanning sociology and cultural studies and has been a university lecturer and researcher with a focus on the politics of health and community activism.

About Time & Talents

Time & Talents is a local charity based in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey dedicated to creating a place where everyone feels part of a community. They bring people together for mutual support, fun and friendship through a range of services and activities that address social isolation, increase mental & physical wellbeing, and reduce divisions across the community.

Over 5,000 people participated in their community activities last year (double the previous year’s figure) and over 200 isolated elderly people in need received personalised care and support on an individual or group basis. Time & Talents currently work with over 150 volunteers of all ages.
A core part of their work provides ways for people to connect and share their time and talents, including a wide range of volunteering opportunities, skills-sharing, and opportunities to socialise and connect neighbours close and far to reduce isolation.

  www.timeandtalents.org.uk  @Time_Talents  timeandtalentsse16

Why not pop in to T&T?

Whether you are local resident or just interested in taking part, there is so much to get involved with, including:

Time and Talents Tiny TalentsFor all ages

  • Formal/ informal learning opportunities, especially around practical skills like gardening and crafts, life drawing, ukelele
  • A wide range of community parties, events, and celebrations – because they’re the best way to bring communities together and build supportive relationships
  • A range of hosted activities including a Local History Society, Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Choral Society, Creative Writing and Visual Arts groups
  • Health and wellbeing for all ages, including yoga, pilates, and free mindfulness classes
  • Wacky fun for children and families – bringing together grown-ups as well as kids
  • The Green Team – our gardening club for all

For 55s and over

  • time-and-talents-cycling-without-ageLots of support and social opportunities for older people:A range of groups to increase social connections and build new friendships:Happy Monday Group – a social group for over 60’s
  • Social Contact Group – for older women with mental health needs
  • Stroke Club, for people recovering from a stroke, and their carers
  • Visually Impaired Club, for people who have experienced loss of sight
  • The Rotherhithe Shed, where you can tinker, make and mend in a real workshop
  • Pub Club, a non-nonsense social group for men 55+ running in local pubs
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