An increasing amount of community spaces are popping up all over London, with the aim of bringing people together and reclaiming lost buildings. Amid the bustling Walworth road area iconic East Street market is one such space, which in just two years has already helped bring the local community together, writes Zoe Dowsett …
55 East is a community cafe and hub which opened in 2017. With support from the Peabody Housing Association, they were able to turn a few empty shops into a bright, creative space for the local community to come together.
Supported by Hatch Enterprise who also help to fund the space they now run over 150 events to support and engage people from artists to local entrepreneurs.
The space is currently used by a range of organisation including charities, community groups, actors to hone their craft and artists as an exhibition space. The hub is also a thriving co-working area used by students and freelancers to work on creative projects.
There’s a really collaborative feel to the space, with people from the community running classes in everything from illustration and tapestry weaving to business coaching and groups for elderly people to help them discover and develop their talents and alleviate isolation.
When you visit 55 East, spending a lost hour or two trying out the delicious food and coffee from the cafe is a must. All produce is locally sourced from South London based traders and the baristas include people trained from charities that help homeless people develop catering skills. One of the cafe’s most popular night is a tapas night, Beats and Bites, that opens up every Friday with talented chefs serving a range of tapas from Mediterranean to Nigerian dishes.
The cafe also puts on exhibitions from local artists and is hosting a new exhibition from photographer William Baker which features art that takes medieval style portraits and merges them with modern faces. The exhibition is creative, playful and another example of the hub’s support of showcasing art to inspire the community.
‘The main challenge (for 55 East) is making people aware of everything we offer’ said Neila Romdane one of the people involved early on in making 55 East the successful hub of creativity it’s become.”
Neila added ‘We’re constantly improving the cafe and kitchen. We’re very open to people approaching us to run workshops. In the future we would definitely like to be a cornerstone of the community, to have more locals coming and to help more empty spaces become available to the community’.
Tel: 0207 993 0074
Open Monday – Sunday 9.30am – 4pm and
Friday 6pm – 10pm
53-62 East Street, SE17 2DJ