Who, What and Where we are?

Who we are

Bede is a local community charity (Registered Charity No. 303199 Registered Company No. 420386). At Bede, we believe strong, confident communities enable people to flourish. That is why, since 1938, we have been working from our Bermondsey and Rotherhithe base in Southwark to support local people in creating better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

What we do

As a local organisation, we have the flexibility to respond to changing need in our local area. To support the needs of those in our local community we run four key services: Learning Disabilities, Youth Work, Starfish Domestic Violence Project and Community Engagement. Each are aimed at bringing people of different backgrounds, skills and experiences together to build long term, supportive relationships that help to create new opportunities for those involved – these include adults with learning disabilities, young people and families on low incomes and survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

With government statistics showing that some of Southwark’s neighbourhoods are among the 10% most deprived in the country, we strive to ensure as many people as possible have access to the support they need. Our work helps those in our local community to reach their full potential.

Bede’s Learning Disabilities Services – Respected, valued and active

Learning Disabilities can be caused by many different conditions including autism and Downs Syndrome. They affect how a person absorbs new or complex information, learns new skills and copes independently. Speaking, listening and understanding can  be severely affected, and there are often physical conditions to cope with too.

All of our activities, training, volunteering and employment programmes aim to build the skills and confidence of the person who has a Learning Disability so that everyone, whatever their level of disability, can play their part in the community.

Our Inside Outside project, which introduces volunteers who have a Learning Disability to local frail and elderly householders, won The Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2008It is recognition of the way that Bede connects people of different backgrounds to each other so they can make life better, together.

The Bede is special because they let me do exciting projects. I get to write on computers, on Thursdays I can do work experience, and sometimes I do volunteering.”


Bede Youth Adventure Project – Discovering who you can be

Growing up in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe can be tough.

Many people in the area face financial and other hardships, struggling to improve life for themselves and their families. Government statistics show some areas of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe to be among the 10% most deprived in the country, and the End Child Poverty Campaign’s 2016 report identifies 39.5% of children in our Bermondsey and Old Southwark parliamentary constituency as living below the poverty line.

The threat of gang violence is real, and many young people fear to travel across housing estates that are not their own in case they are targeted. Problems at home or at school can add to the challenges of safely navigating the teenage years to adulthood.

Young people often need somewhere outside home and school where they can belong, find friendship and excitement and where experienced adults can offer them wise guidance when tackling the issues of growing up.

Bede’ youth clubs, school holiday programmes, adventure residentials, music sessions, volunteer and trainee programmes offer just that for local young people aged 8 to 19. Many come to Bede right through their teenage years, and one young man summed up the experience of many when he said “If I hadn’t got involved with Bede, I could easily be in prison now.”

Bede Starfish Project – Freedom from Fear – breaking the cycle of violence

Many people in Southwark suffer violence and abuse in their personal lives. Each year, there are over 2,000 reports in Southwark of assaults in domestic relationships.

Bede has over 19 years experience in effectively helping people to end the violence they experience. In 2012, we launched the Bede Starfish Project to focus our experience on those who are in complex situations, particularly involving the mental health services,  and those who are repeat victims of violence. Some of the women and men we help have no recourse to public funds because their abuser has controlled their legal documents. We do what’s needed to enable them to feed their children whilst they try to keep safe.

At Bede, we make sure we meet those who ask for our help, and talk things through, face to face. Our peer support groups enable those who get through a dangerous crisis to reflect on the experience, and reduce the chances of it happening again.

One lady describes how life has changed for her and her children:

I still have very little money, so I walk to and from the group sessions each week. But we are safe now and things are looking up. Bede House is helping with my visa and provides food vouchers for me and my children. I have started to recognise myself again and feel transformed from the woman I was. Above all, Bede House has shown me that by speaking out and sharing my feelings, rather than suffering in silence, I can start to move forward.” 

Bede Community ServicesBringing People Together to Make Life Better

Bede brings people together to get involved and make life better in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. We are the leading local charity in the Big Local South Bermondsey Partnership which is enabling residents on six local estates to improve their environment, and increase the opportunities for young and old to live fuller lives.

Over 30 people a year volunteer with Bede’s projects to learn new skills and make a difference in the community.

Small, local groups and charities hire halls and offices at Bede House and Bede Centre so that they can put their ideas into action.

Local companies choose Bede as their charity, so employees can get involved in our projects and have fun whilst raising funds for what we do. Clare College, Cambridge sponsors an annual placement at Bede for a post-graduate student which strengthens our historic links with this great University.

Local companies choose Bede as their charity, so employees can get involved in our projects and have fun whilst raising funds for what we do. Clare College, Cambridge sponsors an annual placement at Bede for a post-graduate student which strengthens our historic links with this great University. Southwark Council support many of our activities, as do the charitable trusts who are acknowledged on the website pages of the Projects they support. We always struggle to raise funds for our central costs – finance, HR, premises maintenance, IT and fundraising – which provide the essential infrastructure to enable Bede to be successful. We are therefore particularly grateful to Southwark Council and to Garfield Weston Foundation for the core funding they give us.