Bare PR’s Croydon Lives (#CroydonLives) exhibition has opened at Boxpark celebrating the wonderful people that live and work in our borough.

We commissioned local photographer, Yolande de Vries to capture the spirit and strength of our community, and give a platform to the people that make our town so special.

Croydon is changing at a rapid rate but there’s one thing that stands strong in the town’s landscape – its people. The people that walk our streets, breathe life into our neighbourhoods, and support each other in countless ways. We all have a kinship, a stake in Croydon’s future and desire to preserve our town’s identity.

We celebrate people of all ages and backgrounds in the exhibition. As well as those who may be more hidden and on the margins of our society. The exhibition features 7 striking portraits of ‘ordinary’ people from the Croydon community in their everyday setting.

Croydon Lives – Celebrating Croydon’s Community

Sahr Yillia

We met Sahr at the Croydon Refugee Centre in West Croydon – a place where people come together in search of food, clothes and support. Around 100 people or more meet here every week to share company and friendship. Chatter in different languages fills the space and children run around while lunch is served.

Sahr, friendly and ever smiling, is a key member of the group. Sahr came to the UK as a refugee having survived wars in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. He lost his sight due to measles and became a child and disability rights activist and later an international motivational speaker. In 2013 he was selected as one of ten human rights defenders to receive a protective Fellowship at the University of York.

Liz Stark

Liz Stark has lived in Croydon all her life is and jumped at the chance to be involved in a project celebrating her town. A young mum to Milo, Olivia and Grace, her life is naturally full and very busy! After leaving work full time, Liz decided to develop her skills and trained with Digital Mums. a social media training company that helps mums create flexible careers around family life. The programme inspired Liz to set up The Croydon Facelift Twitter account which she still runs today. She now offers social media support to local businesses.

Jack Kew

When we spoke to Jack it was clear here was someone who is born to inspire others; committed to creating a better future for young people in his community. Jack works at Croydon charity Lives not Knives founded by Eliza Rebeiro in 2007. Croydon has one of the highest rates of serious youth violence in London and Jack is part of the team tackling street crime in the town.

Jack began volunteering at Lives not Knives in 2014 driven by his belief that anyone can achieve their ambition once they know what it is they want to do. He now works full time at the charity as a Youth Mentor/ Roadshow Co-ordinator, and with their support has gained his Youth Work qualification. He leads educational roadshows, going into schools across Croydon to raise awareness of the impact of knife crime on young lives.

Madhuben Amin

Madhuben came to London from Uganda in 1972 and lived in Balham until moving to Croydon in 2000. Part of a close knit community, she enjoys family life and the diverse environment Croydon offers. She loves living in Croydon and uses the trams to help her get around the shops and local markets.

Eric and Tina

Eric and Tina live in South Croydon where they share a home with Bernie, a fully-fledged member of the family. As a pro photographer in the late seventies, Eric can often be seen with his camera around town.  He is owner of an impressive collection of cameras which chart his career, and hobby, over the years. After more than 20 years together, Eric and Tina decided to tie the knot in 2017 and look forward to happy times ahead.

Jamie Hendey

As recently as March 2017, Jamie slept rough on the streets of Croydon, often seeking out a sheltered spot behind the back of Allders. Trying to protect himself from the constant dangers of street life, life was relentlessly hard. Jamie found help from homeless charity Evolve and formed a trusting bond with support worker Vicky who helped him move forward with his life. Jamie moved into supported accommodation where shelter and stability gave him the chance he needed. With Vicky’s support he’s now found employment as a warehouse assistant and gained the confidence to start looking for a place to call his own.

Sheila Macgregor, Tracy Doyle, and Rebekah Watts

We visited Croydon fire station to meet Borough Commander Kevin McKenzie and his team as watch changeover was taking place. Sheila, Tracey and Rebekah are part of a team who carry out technical rescues from water, from height and from deep underground using highly specialist skills. They also provide home fire safety visits to residents across Croydon giving advice on fire safety and fitting smoke alarms for free.

There are only 320 women currently working as firefighters in the capital – around seven per cent of the operational team. London Fire Brigade recently launched its biggest recruitment drive in 7 years to attract more women into the profession as well as new recruits from BAME and LGBT communities.


Share your views on the exhibition using the #CroydonLives hashtag