- Subject: Oral History
How Communitea transformed a vacant shop into a meeting place for the community. The café is at 80 High Street.
In this audio you can hear Reem.
The audio is 1 minute and 29 seconds long.
When I opened the café, I was 24 and I didn’t have much experience in terms of what to look for in a space. We didn’t have a lot of knowledge about plumbing, about electricity, about contracts, about…we had known some…an estate agent in the area. But then he showed us this, this space, which has been vacant for about two years, it’s just it used to be someone’s like storage space. So, we had to build a kitchen. We did a lot of DIY, we did a lot of like second hand and the main kitchen counter for the café used to be like someone who…whose grandmother or auntie passed away somewhere in West London and she wanted to get rid of it and she gave it to us for like £30. Which is like really good quality wood. But…so we were like looking around for like 2 months for different things, like second-hand or things that would have been abandoned anyways, and just kind of brought them to the space. Pretty much nothing is…really has been purchased like as it is. So, we bought like some things from, like for example, all of these were from IKEA, and they’re meant to be like garden benches, but we kind of…we bought the foam, and we…we did upholstery, built this and stuff. Very much like a family affair.
Two people that have been neighbours for three or four years and they’ve never spoken to each other, but they recognise each other because they see each other and the first time that they spoke was in the café, because they were…when we were…that’s what they said because they were like, “Hey, I see you every day, like almost every day across, you know, through the window”, whatever. Nothing creepy but, like, kind of “I recognise you’re my neighbour”, and they’re like, “Yeah, I recognise you too”, and then they kind of started talking to each other and they got to know each other through the cafe.
South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/
Image Credit: Croydon Council
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