Our independent research into community needs found that Southwark is a borough of contrasts with high levels of high wealth and poverty existing side-by-side. It concludes there are two Southwarks – one where people have better life chances and one when they have worse.
A local charity said: ”The difference between affluent and deprived areas is becoming more prominent in Southwark, with areas on or near the river and in the south becoming increasingly unaffordable, whilst the areas in the middle of the borough are becoming more deprived”.
The themes of the report cluster around community and opportunity. It concludes, and we argue, “a poverty of opportunities for some leads to a weaker community for all.”
Research and methodology
A Tale of Two Southwarks was authored by Dr. Cat Walker, Founder of The Researchery.
To carry out the research the following methods were used:
- A review of the literature and figures available on Southwark’s existing needs
- An online survey of 847 local Southwark voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations who are members of Community Southwark (94 organisations took part in the survey)
- Four focus groups with invited local VCS representatives of different issue areas (children and young people; older people; mental health and a mixed group representing community centres, CAB and a community activist)
- Interviews with 13 local VCS representatives covering issue areas such as health and wellbeing, specific BME groups, tenants and residents’ associations, refugees and asylum seekers
Key report statistics:
- Southwark is the third largest London borough in terms of population
- The population of Southwark is expanding, with a high birth rate, low death rate, and high inflow of immigrants
- Southwark has a young population (average age: 34.2 years)
- Southwark is a multi-ethnic borough with almost half the community (47%) belonging to an ethnic minority
- Southwark has the largest Black African population in the country
- Over a hundred languages are spoken by children living in Southwark
- Southwark is home to an increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world
A Tale of Two Southwarks
”Please note there is a printing error in the report (executive summary version) stating Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Dickens were born in Southwark. They were not but both were very closely affiliated with the borough of Southwark.”