Lewisham Multilingual Advice Service (LMLAS)

LMLAS is a well-established community organisation that provides free and confidential advice, advocacy support to appeal levels in mother tongues to all BAMER groups who speak little or no English. The main areas of work are welfare benefits, to appeals and representation level and includes Consumer, debt, education, employment, family issues, health, housing, and utilities. We have 15 community languages available. If a language is not available we endeavour to accommodate service users with help from our bank of current and past volunteers. We are a member of the Advice Lewisham Partnership.

Services available:
Monday to Wednesday at scheduled times between 10am and 4pm in various languages:
Freephone Advice Line; 
Advice appointments 
Thursday: All languages (serviced by volunteers):
Digital hub 

New style service
Due to COVID-19, we developed a new model for delivering advice appointments and digital hub enquiries. This involved establishing a new post of Telephone Advice Line Coordinator whose role includes fielding calls from service users to the relevant advisor. Appointments and enquiries are dealt with by phone and using social media. Freephone Advice Line on 0800 231 5453, option 1.

If your organisation has a client who needs immediate support whose understanding of English is limited and if you have all the questions/details ready, we can arrange a time to interpret with you and the client over the phone for up to 20 minutes.

Contact: Liz, Service Manager,

LMLAS are currently seeking advice volunteers and a website volunteer. Please contact Liz for further details of these volunteering opportunities..

Support in our community

It’s never too late to get connected, talk to a neighbour, join a new group, and there are many organisations operating locally that can help us through difficult times such as this. Some key local organisations are listed below. Don’t be scared, just pick up the phone and give them a call.

170 Community project: Free and independent welfare advice – 0207 732 9716.
Adviceline Lewisham: 07845 683313
Lewisham and Bromley Credit Union: a not for profit financial co-operative run for and by our members, offering ethical loans and savings for those living or working in the boroughs of Lewisham or Bromley, email
Somerville Adventure Playground: Youth activities, play and support
Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network: Advice and support services, 0208694 0323
Alcoholics Anonymous: there are five different weekly group meetings to choose from. more information at:
Bromley and Lewisham Mind: Mental health and well-being
Link Age Southwark: if you are or you know someone who is an elderly resident of Southwark, this organisation offers a wide variety of services for older people. Call them on 0208 299 2623.
Just Older Youth (JOY): A local charity based around New Cross and neighbouring areas, providing a wide variety of activities and mutual support for the over 50s. Call Maureen on 0208 692 9186.
Community Connections: a social prescribing project aimed at improving health and well-being, and tackling isolation. call 0208 314 3244 or email
Financial support with self isolation:
Deptford Reach – supporting homeless people, email:
Carers Lewisham – run by and for carers. Ensuring carers in Lewisham receive the correct support. 0208 699 8686.
Benefits advice 0800 231 5453
Employment support 07532787466
Domestic violence support 0808 2000247
Lewisham food bank 08082082138
Social supermarket – st Peter’s Church, Wickham Road, SE4 1LT. Pay £3 and choose your own food.

The New Normal at Besson Street Community Garden

Keeping our community safe is our number one priority right now. We want to be able to deliver the best possible services to the community and that means doing things slightly differently. We are continuing with as many of our courses, classes and clubs as possible, paying lots of attention to social distancing, keeping everyone safe and following government guidelines. Face coverings are required for all courses.
Stay and play sessions – you will need to book a slot via our website Sessions are still running, one hour each, with limited numbers in each slot. Monday and Tuesdays, 9.30-10.30am and 10.45-11.45am, and Wednesday 1.30-2.30pm and 2.45-3.45pm.
ESOL classes (English for speakers of other languages) – we are offering blended courses, that means some face-to-face classes (in small groups) and some online classes. We offer pre-entry, Entry 1, 2 and 3/level 1). Our eSOL classes are free and are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Call 0207 639 7605 or email Helen for details:
Adult Learning Courses – we are running courses every term and they will all be delivered from New Cross Learning, 283-285 New Cross Road, SE14 6AS, to allow for greater space and social distancing. See our adult learning page for further details.
Gardening Club -there are now 4 gardening clubs per week, Monday 1-3om, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 12-2pm. As always, volunteers are always welcome. You can just come along and turn up.
Ukulele Classes – Every Tuesday during term time, from 3.45-5.15pm. these classes take place in Besson Street community Garden, only £1 per session.
Employment advice and support – All employment support is currently taking place virtually. You can email Elisha on, and she will be able to help you update your CV, find jobs to apply to and prepare for interviews.
Mindfulness – We will be offering another 8-week course in February. For more details, email
Sew you need to get out more – Sewing classes for anyone interested in learning patchwork, appliqué and meeting new people. Classes take place every Monday during term time, although you will need to book a place on this course by calling 0207 639 7605.
Personalised IT training – although we cannot offer IT training in person at the moment, if you have your own computer, we are able to offer personalised zoom based IT tuition. Out IT teacher will first show you how to set up Zoom, and will then help you through all of your other IT learning needs, through 1:1 or small group sessions. email for more information.

Have your say..

Welcome to our regular column where a local residents has their say about something that’s on their mind. This month, three volunteers, Marcella, Katy and Arthur from Pie ‘n Mash start a discussion about community and mutual aid.

It’s all about mutual trust. We responded to the COVID-19 lockdown by putting together free food parcels for people in the community, using the Field Community space on Queens road, next to the doctor’s surgery as our base. Over the weeks we gathered support from volunteers and community groups and we are now producing 69 food parcels per week, varying from one person to families of five. In addition, we are taking food parcels and hot meals to Deptford Square and Peckham Square every week and sharing them with anyone who wants to take them.

Mutual aid is really important to us as an idea and a practice. People helping each other based on trust, no one having to prove they are deserving or worthy, everyone being equal, recognising we have different skills and ideas to share. Mutual aid is an opportunity for everyone to ‘give’ and ‘receive’.

Right now there are eight of us who collect the food. This includes doing a 5am run to New Covent Gardento buy the fruit and veg for the food parcels every Wednesday. We then make up the parcels, do the cooking, deliver door to door, and we run our stalls in Deptford and Peckham. But its not just about distributing food, it’s about developing mutually trusting relationships with people, it’s about connecting. Food is a great connector; that’s our starting point but we actually do much more to support people in many different ways.

Most of us have paid work and fit our ‘pie ‘n mash’ work in and around our jobs. We’re really happy to work with different community groups in the area, charities and mutual aid groups, we share good practice, learn from each others’ experience and we help each other make connections with groups where they can get support or share their skills. Communicating with the community around us is important so we produce a newsletter. We want people to know what we’re doing and how they can get involved. We want them to know about our plans and aspirations for Pie ‘n Mash. Creating connections, staying connected, and sharing information is central to any community.

We have recently got our first grant in to help us do this work, to keep us afloat, not much money but it really has made a difference. And, importantly, it has given us a little bit of space to think about the future and how we might develop this project.

Harriet Tubman: an inspiration to all!

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross, to enslaved African-American parents in the state of Maryland, probably in 1822. The only grandparent we know about, her maternal grandmother, Modesty, had arrived on a slave ship from Africa. Maryland was one of a middle-tier of Staes where slavery existed, but less prevalently than further south. Tubman’s home was – very relatively speaking – a short journey to Pennsylvania , the closest of the free states of the North. It was conceivable, and at very great risk, possible for slaves to flee over the state border to win freedom. The famous black activist, Frederick Douglas, who Tubman went on to work with, escaped from Maryland in 1838, a little more than a decade before Harriet.

The sheer amazingness of Harriet Tubman’s life starts simply with the fact that she was one of the tiny minority of slaves before the civil war, rebellious and confident enough to flee her owners. It continues with the fact that , very unusually, she made the journey to Philadelphia alone. She did this despite the severe headaches, seizures and bouts of unconsciousness that plagued her continually through her life after a skull fracture inflicted by an overseer when she was 13.

Tubman escaped alone in 1849, but developed to her full stature as a leading figure among a growing activist movement to overthrow slavery and transform US society through the 1850s. After decades of beleaguered organising and slow growth, abolitionism and those influenced by it became decisive in the revolutionary crisis of the 1850s and 60s. In 1863, after the North’s war took a more radical turn towards destroying slavery, Tubman became a spy and guide for the US army. She led black soldiers in a raid on the Combahee River in South Carolina, rescuing many hundreds of slaves on one expedition. She was the only woman to lead troops during the civil war. Tubman lived to 1913, campaigning for women’s rights and women’s suffrage as well as black rights.

Volunteers needed at 170

More so than ever, many people are needing help with welfare benefits. We are looking for volunteers who can train to be Adviceline telephone assessors and be the first point of call for local people in need. Is this something you could do?
The training takes place over one month, for about 20 hours in total, and once you are trained you can help your local independent community advice centre, 170 Community project to support local residents.
Call Jonny on 0207 732 9716 or email him at

Upcoming courses

We have the following subsidised courses scheduled before the end of the year. These will all be delivered from New Cross Learning to ensure full social distancing.

Food safety – Friday 6 November Book here
Safeguarding of children – Friday 4 December Book here
Emergency First Aid – Friday 13 November Book here

The cost of the courses is £10 if you are currently unwaged, or £50 if you are waged.

ESOL classes are also ongoing. There is no charge for our ESOL programme. simply turn up Tuesday 4.00-5.00pm or Wednesday 5.00-6.00pm for an assessment and we will fit you in to a class according to your ability. We are currently running a combination of online and COVID secure in-class lessons (small groups).

A message from the Woodland Trust

Trees are our strongest warriors in the battle against climate change. they lock up carbon, fight flooding and cool our cities. But there are simply not enough of them to tackle the climate emergency. To hit the government’s 2050 carbon net zero target, the UK desperately needs more trees. together we can make that happen. Join our climate change army and help us reach our target to get 50 million trees in the ground over the next five years.
– Plant a tree
– Speak up
– Support the Woodland Trust `

New gardening clubs

As of this week, our gardening club will now be running Fridays and Saturdays 12-2pm as well as the current Mondays and Wednesdays. Please come along to Besson Street Community Garden and ask for Christina.

Please respect our COVID guidelines when on site. You will be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering the premises and regularly throughout your stay. You will also be asked to ensure you stay 2m away from other users at all times. Please have a mask with you to use where it is not possible to maintain this distance.

ESOL lessons starting in September

In September, we will be offering a programme of blended English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) lessons, with some taking place within the centre and some being delivered online.

Registration for these courses will take place in person, at Besson Street Community Garden, Besson Street, SE14 5AS from Tuesday 1 September to Friday 4 September, 10am-3pm.

You can just turn up and ask for Helen. Please remember to wear a face covering. You will be asked to undertake a brief assessment to ensure that we put you in the right class according to your ability.

Have your say

Welcome to our regular column where a local resident has their say about something on their mind. This month Donna starts a discussion
about taking personal responsibility for helping manage the Covid crisis.

Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?
A restaurant was recently closed down for a deep clean, food was thrown away, staff were put on hold and income was lost. Why? Because someone who had just been tested for Coronavirus decided to go out for dinner and a few drinks rather than wait for her test results.
It is likely that other people were infected by her as she sat eating dinner and as she travelled to and from the restaurant. This is how the virus spreads, people mixing with each other and not taking seriously the guidelines about washing hands, wearing masks, going into quarantine etc.
To force the virus back to a manageable level we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions. There’s more than plenty we can blame the government for over the whole coronavirus episode but we do all have a personal responsibility too if we are to ensure the virus stays at a manageable level until we have a vaccine.
Another discussion would be around the anti-vaxers, the flat earth society. They really do need to read some real science instead of conspiracy theories. It is science that will come to the aid of humanity regarding this virus not giant Lizards or drinking bleach. Who would drive a car without wearing a seat belt? Only fools, nowadays! So why would you not follow the guidelines on handwashing, staying home if waiting for test results and so on?
Well, of course, some people – far too many people – will have to choose between taking the awful risk of going to work knowing they might be infected and/or infect others and paying the rent and food bills. That’s not a real choice, not a fair choice.
We need the government to guarantee full pay for all workers if they have to isolate, regardless of their contract or status. Else, the poorest paid, least protected will remain in the frontline of fire with this virus. If we are to avoid a second spike this winter we do all have to believe that it’s all our personal responsibility to help keep the Covid virus under
There are things we can do individually and there are things we must do collectively. Supporting campaigns to make sure the workplace is safe, that schools are safe, that care workers and other frontline and key workers have full employment rights with decent pay and benefits etc is an essential way to put pressure on the government to deliver what we need.