Lee Green Lives is a charitable organisation, born in 2010 out of an old disused unit in the declining Leegate shopping centre in Lewisham to help breathe some life into it before it was pulled down in favour of redevelopment. We succeeded thanks to the hard work of a small band of volunteers and part-time workers and by working with other traders and services to keep the precinct open. Now, 14 years later, we will be leaving in October with others as the developers, Galliard Homes, get ready to demolish the site.

We are leaving with great sadness, not simply because we have come to love our home, but even more for the thousand and more people who have benefited from our activities and services. We are determined that those still with us and other future participants and users will continue to have their needs met.

During the 14 years, we have had to meet many challenges – regular, sometimes exhaustive fund-raising, recruiting volunteers, maintaining staffing and premises, and of course COVID, which forced us to shut for almost a year – to keep the show on the road. Demands on us have increased again with the Cost-of-Living crisis exacting a financial and mental health toll on so many. Now, of course, we have a bigger challenge with our exit from Leegate, but we have found alternative premises. More details shortly.

What we do

Our “doors always open” ethos has largely targeted the needs of the economically and socially disadvantaged. The Cost-of-Living crisis impacts on many, affecting not just their finances, but also their mental health. Since Covid our numbers have risen again to over 2000 visits and by 150-200 unique visits to the centre a year, numbers that are down on pre-Covid but on the rise since, indicative of an ever-growing need, particularly since the economic downturn.

The range of activities and services has included healthy exercises for older people, computer and literacy classes, sewing and knitting activities.

All these operate around a Support & Advocacy service that helps several hundred people annually with benefits, housing and other issues that overwhelm them. This service has been held at the same time as our Warm Space project that helps people keep warm while overcoming loneliness and isolation, so often key to their well-being. In addition, Lee Fair Share, a local time bank, run a Coffee & Chat session and social activities.

Lee Green Lives, because we believe that “a stronger community is an engaged community”, also facilitates a local network of community groups, Lee Green Consortium, consisting of 18 organisations ranging from park user groups to other community halls, the library and arts groups. The centre acts as a host for local meetings. The work achieved by working together has had a big impact on the local area.