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Amina and Reem, Communitea (South Drawood exhibition)

  • Year Invented: 2018

The vegetarian and vegan café which is Communitea has been on South Norwood Highstreet for around four years. Amina and Reem originally set up as a social enterprise, Yalla Hub, wanting the help migrant refugee women and ethnic minority women. Although the pair had no previous experience in hospitality, they needed a physical space to run their enterprise and so Communitea was born. They took on the café to support their enterprise and their vision has changed over time. While helping others is still at the heart of what they do, the café now takes up the majority of their time. One of the projects they support is Palm & Fig, which runs workshops for women and children, and make and sell handmade dolls which are sold on Etsy.

Amina says that the people of South Norwood are what make it so special and she loves how the local businesses support each other. She calls the friendliness and mutual support a ‘beautiful dance that we’re all in’. Understandably, the pair would like to see more small, local businesses move into the shops on the high street, with the community taking ownership of the area. 

Words by Elizabeth Walters

Interview with Amina, co-founder of Communitea, April 2022

Communitea

80 High Street, South Norwood, SE25 6EA

This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.

From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.

South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.

The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.

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