A day enjoying Croydon North’s diversity
I spent Sunday on a series of visits across Croydon North that highlighted what a diverse and vibrant community we are. My first stop was the community garden at Norwood Junction train station. The garden, an oasis of colour and calm alongside the busy railway station, was built by school children under the guidance of a team of horticultural students from a local college. I was there to join Cllr Paul Smith as he planted a new tree in the garden.
From there, I went to the Thornton Heath Mosque for their annual open day. This event gives local people a chance to step inside the mosque to learn a little more about Islam and the community who worship there. The mosque is extremely diverse with people attending from all over the world. The Mayor of Croydon was leaving just as I arrived, and I was interested to learn from a young member of the community how Muslims perform wudhu – or ritual washing – to cleanse themselves before prayers.
My next stop was Archbishop Lanfranc school where the Tamil community were holding a cultural event. I was delighted to watch a series of energetic performances by groups of talented young people. I kept my speech brief so that I didn’t interrupt the entertainment too much but made sure I congratulated the Tamil community for the important contribution they make to life in Croydon.
Later in the afternoon the Fairfield Halls hosted a dazzling event called the Sangheeta of the UK. This was a display of music and dance from across the Indian sub-continent, with a particular focus on Kerala. The young people taking part had clearly put in hours of practice to perfect the very high standards that delighted the audience, me included.
With time running short, I made a quick dash across the town centre to the studios of Croydon Radion, a community internet radio station where I was scheduled to take part in a live call-in show. The questions came thick and fast, covering most of the current issues facing our borough. People asked about jobs, hospital closures, police cuts, street cleaning, council tax, mental ill health, and Crystal Palace Football Club.
Spending the hottest day of the year so far running around Croydon was a tiring but exhilarating experience. My thanks go to the many people who help run events right across our community that showcase what a fantastically diverse place Croydon has become.