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Published on : Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Over 40 volunteers from the Thameslink Programme, part of Network Rail, joined local community partners to transform disused space into a space for young people to socialise and undertake activities that will increase their skills and confidence.
Teams from Network Rail and contractors Skanska, in partnership with Southwark council, charities and other local volunteers, renovated the basement and gardens of St. Katharine with St. Bartholomew’s Church, Southwark. It is hoped the new space will help the young people realise their potential and contribute positively to the community.
The Reverend, Father Egerton Gbonda, was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and commitment of Network Rail staff and commented, “The beautiful painted walls sparked a ray of hope in me, that our vision to provide a safe space for young people to meet and learn life skills will soon be a reality. For a long time we have dreamed of having somewhere that the community can come together to discuss issues that matter to us and soon this will be realised.”
The church’s volunteer community engagement officer, Rita Edmond said, “For years we have wished for the support we needed to access the church basement so that we can run activities for Silwood young people and their families. Finally, we are making things happen thanks to the kind support of Network Rail.”
Network Rail project manager, Greg Thornett said, “Voluntary projects like this one are important to our employees and allow us to build strong relationships with the communities in which we work.
“We want residents to feel they have benefited from the presence of our project over the past three years, rather than be hindered by it. We have regularly volunteered with the XLP Youth Group on Silwood Street, as well as replanting the garden area of the Lewington Community Centre. The project at St. Katharine with St. Batholomew’s Church has successfully brought it all together.”
The team included volunteers from across the Thameslink Programme including the Bermondsey Dive Under (BDU), an essential project which will untangle the tracks on the eastern approaches to London Bridge station as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
The BDU is a crucial part of the Thameslink Programme, which is transforming north-south travel through London, providing better, more frequent and more reliable journeys for passengers.