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I will week 2017: Pembroke House

I will week is about celebrating and promoting social action, so we've been sharing testimonies about how Pembroke House does just that. Pembroke House is the College’s social action centre in Walworth, South London, just off the Old Kent Road. Founded in 1885 on the initiative of undergraduates, Pembroke House still fulfils the original vision of a “settlement”, where living locally, learning and receiving are just as important as giving and serving. Mark, Katrina, Savannah, Usman, and Sarah are, or have been, volunteers at Pembroke House.  For I will week they shared with us why they think Pembroke House is special. But this week is also about pledging to do something, so if you're interested in how you can help Pembroke House, see their website for volunteering opportunities or email Lucy at Here's what two of the volunteers, Savannah and Sarah (2013) had to say:

Savannah Adeniyan

Savannah (final)

I graduated from Cambridge this past summer, and have just begun a law conversion in Waterloo prior to the start of my legal training contract.

Why did you get involved with Pembroke House?

I got involved with Pembroke House because, moving down to London to start law school, I wanted to give back to my community in a way similar to the educational access initiatives I got involved in at Cambridge.

How would you describe Pembroke House to someone who doesn’t know it?

It’s a community centre, but with real emphasis on the ‘central’ aspect of that phrase - it is a genuine source of joy, living and opportunity right in the centre of Walworth and very much a place at the heart of the community. It’s a place that genuinely seems to have touched so many people in so many ways, both big and small.

What do you think is its value to the community?

I think Pembroke House is helping to fill in gaps in local educational provision and social cohesion, and at a time when public services are at breaking point, the educational and health and wellbeing projects offered by it particularly are of extreme value, and even of necessity, to its local community.


Sarah (final)

Why did you get involved with Pembroke House?

I started working full-time at Pembroke House after graduating from Pembroke College last year, where I studied for a BA and an MPhil in English. After four years of reading in a library, I was looking for something completely different, getting to know people who I never would have encountered at Cambridge The daunting task of running a Lunch Club for fifty people seemed to fit the bill.

How would you describe Pembroke House to someone who doesn’t know it?

Most people say their workplace is lively, but Pembroke House takes the word to a new extreme. Every day, the community centre is full of people with incredible stories – from the lady at our Lunch Club who walked seven miles to school and only wore shoes on Sundays, to the volunteer who overcame his agoraphobia through helping out at our projects.

What do you think is its value to the community?

Pembroke House provides a diverse community with a space to relax and enjoy life together. Lunch Club offers food and companionship to isolated older people; Pembroke Academy of Music gives disadvantaged children opportunities they could not otherwise afford; our Gardening Group allows people who have experienced mental health problems to enjoy gentle exercise and a sense of achievement. I genuinely can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather work.