HERE ARE SO MANY VERSIONS of Joanna Lumley, but all of them bring you back to London. There’s Lumley as the public face of the Gurkha Justice Campaign, pounding the streets and corridors of Westminster for their right to settle in the UK, then there’s the unforgettable performance as outrageous PR Patsy Stone in the BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous which was recently rebooted for the big screen. She’s also spearheading the creation of a new London icon to span the Thames in the form of the Garden Bridge. Equally Londoncentric, but less well known, is her work with Thames Reach, a homelessness charity also supported by Dexters.
HOUSING LONDON Thames Reach helps homeless and vulnerable people in London to live in decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives. The charity runs a myriad of services, including accommodation projects, hostels and rough sleeper support as well as helping homeless people find work. Lumley is a long-term supporter of Thames Reach, working to raise awareness of the charity’s work through everything from painting billboards to being involved in drives to end rough sleeping. The star’s association with Thames Reach goes back to around 2001 when she opened one of the charity’s hostels. She says: “I am so proud to be associated with the work of Thames Reach. I have nothing but admiration for everyone who works for the charity; they all work tirelessly trying to alleviate the pain and despair suffered by some of London’s most vulnerable people.” Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach CEO, says: “Everyone at Thames Reach treasures Joanna’s unstinting support for our work. Whether this be sharing a quiet moment with a vulnerable resident in one of our hostels, or generously hosting An Evening with Joanna Lumley, a special event for supporters and corporate partners in the centre of London. Joanna is truly a friend of Thames Reach”. Dexters chose Thames Reach as a recognised charity Partner in 2013. Sarah Barrett, Dexters People and Communications Director, explains: “Like Thames Reach, we’re passionate about London and helping to fight homelessness on the streets of the capital, so there’s a strong affinity between the two organisations. We raise money through things like our own version of Great British dexters.co.uk
WHEN I’VE BEEN AWAY FROM LONDON, I USUALLY ASK THE DRIVER TO BRING ME THROUGH KNIGHTSBRIDGE
Bake Off and sporting events. Colleagues also regularly call the StreetLink service where you can let the team know someone is sleeping rough so that person won’t spend a second consecutive night on the street.” Thames Reach says the support of its corporate partners like Dexters enables it to deliver valuable services that otherwise would have to close.
STREETS OF LONDON The city streets where Thames Reach provides its services are a far cry from Joanna Lumley’s earliest years. She was born in Kashmir and moved around the Far East as the family followed her Gurkha officer father. Aged just 10, she found herself at Sadler’s Wells for a ballet audition. It was then she would begin her love affair with London, telling the Evening Standard about viewing the city from the glass bridge joining the Charing Cross Hotel to the other side of Villiers Street: “I had only recently returned from the Far East and I looked out over this massive city and I
Clockwise from main picture: always fabulous Lumley; an impression of the proposed Garden Bridge; and Lumley with Jennifer Saunders in full Patsy and Edina mode