Rotherhithe and Bermondsey have a lot of people who want to see the area flourish. Some are old hands who have been involved with their neighbours and the community for decades. Others are coming to it out of interest, dipping their toes in the water to see if it suits them. On the whole these two groups never meet. Those already heavily involved are often busy with committees for that and working groups for the other; the fresh-faced others – who are new to all this and want to test the ground before finding themselves funnelled into evenings of boredom and monotony – just turn out for their own pleasure.
It was the meeting of these two groups that happened at the Old Salt Quay on Thursday this week. We got together without an agenda to chat and share about the area in which we all live and many work. The pub put on a fine spread of nibbles and warm delights and the conversation flowed together with the beer, wine and fruit juices. We talked about the history of the area, recent news and updates, gossip about the local scene and hopes for the next few months. Some people were new to the area whilst others had lived their whole lives in SE16.
We were warmly welcomed by the staff of the Old Salt Quay and Dale Percival – the landlord since May 2014 – stayed to chat with the group for much of the evening. We had exclusive use of an area upstairs which is normally used as a restaurant space and the pub had reserved several tables for our use. To help conversation we asked people to wear a badge with their name on but increasingly over the evening, friends were made and names became well known.
The event was part of the life of SE16Hour which meets on Twitter each Tuesday at 7.30pm. We use the hashtag #SE16Hour to help us find the conversation by searching on Twitter for that term. I Live in SE16 is the companion website and Facebook page which deals with local issues every few days, keeping locals updated with news and information about their community. Thursday evening was only the second of these MeetUps, allowing folk who meet online to put a face to the name in real terms. We hope to hold similar MeetUps in future and look forward to meeting even more of our friends from SE16.