Join the Rethinking Place Advisory Group

Ben Rollo-Hayward


Surrey Square Primary School is located just off the Old Kent Road in South London. You may know the Old Kent Road, from the Monopoly Board. You probably know it as the “cheap square”. However, we recognise the Old Kent Road as a beautifully diverse and eclectic neighbourhood, with untapped and unrecognised talent and capacity. The community is connected, supportive and close-knit, with innate resilience of the people despite deep- rooted social issues and 20 years of investment into the local area.

The community also faces many challenges. 84% of the Surrey Square community are among the highest 20% of income- deprived families in the UK (judged by the IDACI). 25% of people living in this area are occupying temporary housing. 10% have No Recourse to Public Funds which means they lack access to welfare entitlements.

The Old Kent Road Family Zone is a Surrey Square led initiative that aims to strengthen and celebrate the community. We do this through working differently – doing with the community, rather than doing to:

  • Actively listening and building genuine relationships with and between different individuals, groups and organisations
  • Celebrate the great things and shining a light on these
  • Co-create solutions to make things even better

Since launching, we have formed a Community Board to lead this work, which has worked hard to establish its identity and ways of working. Alongside this, the Community Board has launched a monthly Saturday marketplace and a Friday Youth Club, both working to bring the community together. Following some intensive support from Glimpse (a creative consultancy) the Board have created a new pilot project, a Community restaurant which will be opening its doors later in 2023.

Our plans for the future

Over the next 5 years, we intend to:

  • Strengthen and build the team and governance structure
  • Further develop the OKRFZ approach
  • Co-create and deliver services within the community

We have received seed funding from Impact on Urban Health of an initial grant of £100k in 2022 and a further £650k for the next five years. To achieve our development aims, we need to match fund this.

The Development/Partnerships Group

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We are looking for a small group of committed individuals, who can support us in achieving these aims by joining the Rethinking Place Advisory Group, which currently consists of James Asfa (Assistant Director, Citizens UK), Anne Longfield CBE (Chair of the Commission on Young Lives), Liz Robinson (CEO, Big Education) and Rosemary Thomas (Operations Director, National Literacy Trust).

This Rethinking Place Advisory group will provide input – support and challenge – into the overarching partnerships strategy, enabling us to achieve our aims whilst ensuring we embody the core principles of doing things differently with the community.

As part of this group, your responsibilities will include:

  • Attend an Advisory Group meeting every 3 months for 2 hours – a mixture of in person and online
  • Act as an advisor to our partnerships strategy, supporting us on implementing a different approach to place-based work
  • Identify and cultivate partnerships that align with our mission, values and different approach to place-based work

How to express your interest

Please email Nicola Noble ( to arrange a chat.

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