Phoenix resident Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens standing downstairs in the derelict cinema of The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham
Phoenix resident Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens standing in front of a window in The Fellowship Inn pub in Bellingham
Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens
Tuesday 23rd January 2018 - 16:55

Fellowship in Progress

Lakeisha is an actress, writer and producer currently working as a Project Associate with the Working Party Theatre Company on The Fellowship Inn project in Bellingham, where she is a Phoenix resident.

Lakeisha shares her thoughts about Phoenix’s renovation of The Fellowship Inn, a £4m Heritage Lottery-funded project to create a new pub, cinema, café and venue for the community.

I’ve lived in Bellingham all my life – 26 years.

It’s somewhere where, in my own opinion, yes there are unfriendly people - but regardless of background, culture, race, everyone knows everyone. It’s quite a community. Home is a place that you live, you sleep, you eat in, and that you come back to recharge your batteries, and it’s nice when you feel like everywhere surrounding your house is like an extension of home as well.

We’ve never had a cinema on our doorstep or any type of theatre venue. I feel like The Fellowship is going to give Bellingham a new lease of life; the building was becoming a passive, beige space you pass when you leave the station. People could be forgiven for driving through Bellingham and thinking there was nothing much going on. I know as a kid I went to Downham or Catford or Deptford for arts activities of any type.

Whatever happens with The Fellowship in the future, with the workshops I’ve led with primary school children so far, and people I’ve spoken to - I feel all the excitement and engagement has already brought people together a lot more. Once the pub is done and open, I feel it will accentuate the community spirit that Bellingham was known for.

We’re making history and I know that wherever I am in the world, in 20, 40, 50 years’ time, if I’m still here, or if I’ve got grandchildren - I know Bellingham will always represent home, and that we were all part of this change. I feel really proud to be part of this moment in time. So yes, it’s definitely given me a sense of pride in Bellingham as well, and not just being under the umbrella of Catford or in the shadow of anything else.

My postcode is SE6, I can get in the habit, if someone asks where I live, I say Catford. And if I think they may not know it, I say Lewisham borough, and only sometimes I say Bellingham.

But now, it’s Bellingham, it’s always Bellingham, following this project. If someone doesn’t know Bellingham, then the only way they will know it is if I say the word, Bellingham.