Croydon Drop In celebrates forty years of serving Croydon

By - Monday 9th July, 2018

A local charity working to support young people is going from strength to strength

Photo by CDI, used with permission.

Ask any parent what their concerns are for their offspring, and they will likely reel off a list as long as your arm. But not all young people have access to a supportive family member. Sometimes, even when parents are present, they just don’t understand. Sometimes they themselves are the source of the problem. And when family structures cease to support young people, then a charity like Croydon Drop In (CDI) becomes an absolute must.

Founded in 1978, CDI’s purpose has deviated little in the forty years it has been around: working alongside children, young people and families to help them overcome challenges. Alongside offering counselling for ten to twenty-five year olds, CDI gives advice on a wide range of practical issues and has set up the Parent Infant Partnership, which offers support to families with children under the age of two. It also holds events such as the Gender Identity Conference, aimed at those working with young people.

This mobile outreach unit sets up in schools to offer advice

But, with over 7,000 people through its doors every year, CDI’s most popular resource is the Talkbus. This mobile outreach unit sets up in schools and community settings to offer advice. When asked what kind of issues young people present them with, director Gordon Knott gathers together an alarming menu of concerns: healthy living, sexual health, personal safety, education, housing and relationships. Heaped upon these are a myriad of mental-health issues such as anxiety, self esteem, anger, self harm and suicidal thoughts. It’s clear that CDI is a lifeline to those who need it.

Here is a charity that doesn’t just pay lip service to its engagement with young people. It genuinely believes in the benefits of participation, and the young people’s group ‘The Voice’ is active in steering CDI policy. This group also campaigns on issues and visits parliament. One of its members recently ran for election as Croydon Young Mayor. You’d be hard pressed to find a more empowered group of young people. In fact, the charity is so well loved by its users that several of them have gone on to work or volunteer for it. All this evidences how firmly ensconced CDI has become in the neighbourhood it serves. Four decades of experience comes with bonuses.

CDI staff members at a training event.
Photo by CDI, used with permission.

CDI operates alongside other local support networks and infrastructures. It is one of multiple services supporting children, young people and families in Croydon today. Despite challenges in funding which are a constant threat to planning and stability, CDI’s outlook is buoyant. “Our glass is always half full”, says Gordon, “we hope that the optimism and strengths-based approach we have inspires those who work with us”. It is clearly this collaborative approach that has got CDI to its fortieth birthday. And you know what they say: life begins at forty. We’re sure there’s a lot more to see from this fantastic charity in the coming years.

For more information on CDI and the services it offers, please visit its website here.

Rekha Shane

Rekha is a book reviewer on She also works part time for a professional body and the rest of the time for her two boys. When not writing her novel, Rekha can be found on the sofa binge-watching box sets with her husband.

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