How to be a Croydon Citizen

By - Thursday 28th March, 2013

What makes a person who lives in Croydon a true Croydon citizen? Tara Green has some ideas on how to give and get the best from your town

I like the fact that this site is called The Croydon Citizen. Citizen is a word with gravitas and weight. I am a Croydon citizen. This is a statement of identity and by stating it I am owning this town as a place of importance to me. I don’t overly concern myself with how others view Croydon. Ever since Racquel from Coronation Street disappeared off set for some months to attend a modeling college in Croydon in the 1980’s, I was aware of the tragi-comic persona of our town. And then of course the events of Summer 2011 turned tragi-comic to pure tragedy for some time.

I see Croydon from a different perspective. It is my hometown and it is the place in which I am raising my children. In fact I see Croydon from a great many perspectives and my experience of it is all the richer for this multi-faceted view.

I have lived in Croydon since I was nine and I attended Croydon schools. I have the great fortune to work in a Croydon school. I was a teacher there and have now worked as the school counselor there for nine years. I have watched as the children I taught have grown to become the workers, the volunteers, the parents and sadly, even the soldiers dying for their country.

Moaning about Croydon and bemoaning the ‘state’ of it will not create the town I want my children to grow up in

I’m a school governor. I currently chair the Advisory Board for a local Children’s Centre. My two eldest daughters attend a Croydon school. Between chats at the school gates, book club with the mums, PTA events and helping with reading in the classroom, I have made friends, links, and connections there too. I have a baby so I’m an attendee at toddler groups, clinics, and children’s centres.

Twitter has had an amazing impact on bringing people together in my part of Croydon. I now count people I first ‘met’ on Twitter and latterly in the real world amongst my friends. Via these friendships I have become a volunteer for the Purley Festival and I organise the children’s events for this wonderful community event. Also via my social media links I was introduced to Matthews Yard and regularly attend the Croydon Tech City meetings. As a result of this I became one of the team of volunteers who are working to bring Code Club (a computer programming after school club) to all Croydon primary schools.

Anytime I leave my house I meet people I know. My children are always asking “Who was that, Mummy?” I feel so connected to the local community around me. I feel like an integral part of it. There is a richness to the relationships and connections that I have forged.

Moaning about Croydon and bemoaning the ‘state’ of it will not create the town I want my children to grow up in. Knowing only my own family and mixing only with those I’d meet in the rituals of normal family and working life would give an impoverished view of what Croydon has to offer. I’m not an activist or a busybody. I have no desire to tell others what to do or to hold sway and feel superior to people around me. I want to know, belong to, influence, and improve the community and environment around me.

The actions of each member of our Croydon community, though tiny in and of themselves, accumulate to create the reality of the experience of living in our town

I want to be an active citizen and be involved in aspects of the community that interest me and that my experience can add value and benefits to. For me these areas of interest are education, families, parenting, children and emotional and social health and wellbeing. These are the areas in which I concentrate my business, work, volunteering, and free-time activities. These are the areas that float my boat.

And you will have your own boat-floaters. You may be an animal lover or an environmentalist. You may be interested in aspects of health and healthcare. Perhaps you participate in sport or are a keen spectator of it. It could be the arts that inspire your passion or history, religion, and politics. Some people give time and effort to people with a particular illness, others befriend, visit, and help the elderly. An army of grandparents is helping the community by providing the childcare whilst their grown-up children work. And the economy of our town is boosted by the social butterflies who frequent the cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs in which they socialise and connect with their chosen tribe.

The delicate wings of a tiny, fragile butterfly have an effect on the environment around them which is cumulative and far reaching. The actions of each member of our Croydon community, though tiny in and of themselves, accumulate to create the reality of the experience of living in our town. Each of us can be an active Croydon Citizen in the ways that align with our own values, skills, and interests. This will shape our town and make us a community. I want to raise my children as active, connected, giving and receiving citizens.

Tara Green

Tara Green

Tara Green is a mum of three and wife of one, parenting blogger and coach, hoping that no one will notice that she's learning the craft of raising kids whilst on the job. Specialist life coach for children and parents, providing individual sessions and group workshops. Parenting columnist for the Croydon Advertiser. Find out more at

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  • Mario Creatura

    What a lovely, positive piece Tara. You are absolutely spot on, it’s far too easy to lie back and complain about the troubles of our town and far harder to do something about it.
    We can’t all do everything, but as you say, every little does help. The work you’re doing with Tech City and the Code Clubs, the support you provide to the school you govern and your counselling all help, in a small way, to change our town for the better.
    If everyone does a little bit, I’d wager it wouldn’t be too long before our collective fortunes turn around. I’m an optimist, and I’ve got a feeling that there’s a quiet revolution in localism slowly gathering momentum in Croydon.
    Bring it on I say.

    • Tara Green

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Mario; I really appreciate it. I think you are so right about the quiet revolution. The cumulative effects of this are really exciting to feel around the town.

  • Philip George Harfleet

    I love to remember my time in Croydon, 1940 to 1965, but of course one cannot time-travel. Today’s Croydon is different in so many ways. I just could not live in Hathaway Road, Broad Green, nowadays. Changed so much – not in its architecture but the whole area has lost its charm, so to speak. It’s also too crowded, busy, bustling and almost gridlocked.

    My family and I lived through some harsh times in the 1940/50 era: the war, austerity par excellence to name but two. But I look back to Croydon in those days with huge affection and fondness. I’m sorry to say it would be impossible for me to live there now, having been back recently on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It’s just not MY Croydon any more.

    • Tara Green

      I guess it would have changed a great deal in the almost 50 years since you left the borough, Philip. For me, I find that places from my childhood viewed with my adult eyes are different even if they have remained unchanged. The estates I grew up on are strange places indeed without my grandparents, aunties, cousins and school friends there. As a resident here for over 30 years, I too have seen Croydon change, in some ways for the better, and some for worse. Nostalgia and sentimentality make me miss certain shops for example. I guess it has remained my Croydon as I have continued to build a life here and evolved with the changes.

  • Adrian Winchester

    Individuals can easily wonder whether anything they do will make a difference, but anyone reading your piece should gain inspiration. It’s also notable for being a very rare instance of someone actually saying that they have gained something positive from Twitter!

    • Tara Green

      Thank you Adrian. You made me smile about Twitter! Croydon has such a strong community who interact both on and off Twitter that it acts as another communication channel for us all. And for my business, I have found a wealth of information, great people and expertise. I really quite love it!