Welcome to this CVA Update FOCUS on Faith events & updates in the borough of Croydon
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CVA Update Focus on Children, Young People & Families

Chair's report

Happy New Year to you all and welcome to the Faiths Together newsletter.

As you will see below we have been quite busy as usual. Our big news is that we are holding the second Interfaith bike ride and Big Picnic on 5th June this year. As before you can join the ride and visit a few places of worship on the way to the picnic in Parkhill Park or just come to the picnic. There are free bike riding lessons available on a Saturday morning for those who are a bit rusty (contact Mark Browne 07801999867 or Further details will be coming in the next newsletter but save the date.

I went along to the MAC Friday night food for the homeless a couple of weeks ago and all I can say is that it was an amazing and humbling experience. It was dark and rainy but the men from MAC turned up and handed out 125 meals of Biryani with yoghurt, a spoon and a bottle of water. Another charity, Human Appeal, email;, were also there that night handing out bags of warm clothes and sleeping bags which were gratefully received. MAC do this out of their own pockets so if you are looking for a charity to contribute to please think of helping this group this year.

The Opportunity and Fairness Commission are launching their report on 28th January at Croydon College from 6.30 and would love to see some of the faith community there. Please contact them at email: or tel: 0800 612 2182 if you want to go along and be part of the changes in Croydon.

The Friends of the Phoenix have been talking to us about a celebration of the Chinese New Year and there will be two mini parades on Sunday 7th February, keep looking at our website for further details as we get them. Have you looked at our FTiC website? We also have a face book page(FTiCroydon) that you can request to join and a new twitter account (@FtiCroydon).

 Do have a look at the reports of other events and news from different organisations that we are connected with and if you have any news to share let us know for our next newsletter.

All the best

Penny Smith-Orr,
Chair, Faiths Together in Croydon

Christmas Hospital Visiting

No-one wants to be ill at Christmas and so it is hard for patients who find themselves in hospital over the festive period. The staff work hard to make it as happy a time as possible but we are blessed with help from many different faith communities including this year visits from the Salvation Army and from the Ahmadiyya Muslim youth association based at the Mosque in St. James Road, Croydon. It was a wonderful example of how, in a world so often bitterly divided over faith, different traditions can come together, live out the Peace at the heart of Christmas and bring joy to others.
Major Laurence Pepper writes: A tradition, started over 65 years ago, saw Croydon Citadel Salvation Army Band visiting four hospitals in Croydon - Mayday, Croydon General, Queens and Waddon Isolation Hospital - on Christmas Morning, playing carols outside in the various hospital grounds.   More recently, with only CUH to visit, we have split into two smaller groups to play inside the hospital in the nurses' area of individual wards.  The Band plays traditional carols and favourites like Jingle Bells and also any requests.  We also distribute cartons of sweets for the patients and nurses to share, these having been donated by members of the congregation at Croydon Salvation Army. The Band appreciates being given the opportunity to visit CUH on this special day and hopes that it brings a few moments of joy to patients and hospital staff alike.
Khurram Shahzad, one of our Pharmacy Managers who organised the visit from Mosque writes:  We arrived with our gifts around 7pm on Christmas Day. Staff on Rupert Bear Children’s Ward were very glad and appreciated the visit and we took couple of snaps with the nurses. We handed over 40 gift packs for children along with some chocolates and cards for nurses. 

The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah - December 2015

The first day of this Jewish Festival fell on Monday 7th December and the first candle was lit the preceding evening. On the evening of Sunday 13th all 8 candles were lit at home and in our Synagogue where the Croydon Community held our annual Hanukkah party.  Everyone brought their own Menorah, which can be in any shape as well as the traditional, the only premise being that the “Shamas”, the serving candle, must be at a different level, usually higher than the others. Then, when we have all lit our candles, the lights are turned out and we sing a traditional song.
Read more

Remembrance Sunday November 2015

On Remembrance Sunday on the 8th November several members of Faiths Together gathered for the remembrance event at the Fairfield Halls. This is an annual event by invitation of the Mayor and it was good that representatives of several different faiths were able to come and be part of the service, which was led by the Vicar of Croydon Minster. Afterwards Mayura Patel and I (Penny Smith-Orr) joined the procession led by soldiers and including all the uniformed organisations of Croydon as well as civilians representing those that lost their lives in the two world wars. We marched to the Cenotaph in Katherine Street and were pleased to be able to lay a wreath on behalf of Faiths Together to remember all the people of different faiths who fought on behalf of our country to gain freedom throughout the world.

We have had a discussion at our committee meeting and are in the process of getting information from other boroughs about possibly holding an Interfaith event for remembrance this year alongside the usual Christian based service. What do you think? 

FTiC and the Silence of the Guns
by Irfan Zakiuddin

It was pleasure for some of us from South Norwood Islamic Community Centre (SNICC) to form a part of the FTiC delegation at the Remembrance Sunday service, in Fairfield Halls on 8th November 2015; after the Fairfield Halls' service, FTiC representatives also laid a wreath in the Queen's Gardens.

It is especially important for Croydon's faith groups to join the commemoration, and for two reasons: firstly, we especially benefit from the sacrifices of the past which have secured our present, and, secondly, it is our forebears who were so much a part of that sacrifice.

Firstly, faiths could not exist together - not in Croydon, nor in Britain - without the freedoms that we enjoy here.  It is the basic freedoms that have been secured for us, which grant us all the right and the opportunity to choose and to follow our ways of life.  We depend on these freedoms to live together, here, in a thriving multi-faith society; and for this reason it is natural and fitting that we are a part of the commemoration of the sacrifices that protected these freedoms for us.

Secondly, many people probably don't realise just how much Britain depended on its Empire in the great conflicts of the last century.  Most of Britain's faith communities today are from those same peoples whose contributions and sacrifices made the last century's victories possible.  In this regard, it was gratifying to see our FTiC colleague, Jagdish Sharma, say a little about the contribution of the peoples of the Empire as a part of the commemorations of the day.

‘Behind closed Doors’
Domestic Abuse discussion afternoon

In November we held an afternoon forum for a discussion on domestic abuse for ladies only at the CVA premises in Croydon. In attendance were 40 ladies mainly from the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities. The afternoon started with two key note speakers Reverend Amanda, Vicar St Mary Magdalene and Shaykhah Mezabin, a Scholar of Islam. Both these ladies talked about the theology of their faith and what the Bible and the Qur’an say about abusing another person which of course is not at all acceptable. These were followed by Paula Doherty Paula Doherty, Strategic Manager Troubled Families and Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence in Croydon, who discussed the problems facing women, and also some men, domestic violence can happen to a man or a woman, although women are disproportionately affected.  Two women die every week as a result of domestic violence.  A women experiences 35 incidents before they seek help.  There is an increase in violence of child to adult, or adult children to their parents.

 She then showed a film about someone suffering abuse and trying to get away from the situation. After the film, Paula said that it was not unusual for a woman to find it hard to leave.  The abuse may be subtler e.g. not having access to personal documents, emotional abuse.

The meeting then broke into groups to discuss what would be the losses and gains if you leave a violent relationship.  If you are in fear of your life and walk into e.g. the Family Justice Centre for help, you lose everything – your home, family members, community groups, identity, your children lose their toys/pets.  All the gains are in the future and you may feel more at risk when you leave. Also in
attendance were some members of agencies who offer help to people in this situation. 020 8688 0100 (includes a step by step guide of what to do if you are worried about someone) and also some from the women's refuge in Croydon.  The South Norwood Mosque also have a women's group who would be able help women with a problem.

For the full report of the event click here
Celebration of Christmas

The final celebration of faith festivals in 2015, with the Council and Faiths Together in Croydon working together, was the Christmas celebration at Bernard Weatherill house in December. These celebrations were designed to share with each other what the festivals mean to a believer of the faith and thanks go to Tania Robinson from the Council for helping to arrange the event.

The Christmas event was good from that point of view because there were people from many different faiths in the audience which was good to see as that hasn’t always been the case. Rev Hilary Fife, the Chaplain from Croydon University Hospital, started the proceedings by lighting a candle and saying a prayer for Peace across the world. We then heard from Councillor Watson and a deputy for the Mayor and also from The Leader of the Council.  This took up quite a lot of the time allotted for the celebration and was not exactly about Christmas. There was time though for some singers from the New Life Christian Centre and also a choir from Archbishop Tenison’s School singing a variety of Christmas related songs. The Bishop of Croydon explained the meaning of the Advent wreath and candles and how they are used in churches during Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for Christians. The Archdeacon of Croydon told us about some ways Christians celebrate around the world and encouraged us all to take a piece of straw home to remind us of the lowly conditions in which Jesus was born. There was also a display of different nativity scenes from around the world and the event finished with refreshments and an opportunity to chat with others who were there.  

Fun and encouragement at Croydon Fun Runs
by Revd Andrew Dovey


Have you ever wanted to start running, or just join in running for fun with others. Well, if you have then come and join people on the fun runs that take place each Saturday. It’s an experience not to be missed.

As an experienced and long distance runner, I started to take part in these 3 mile runs at Lloyd Park in 2014. It’s an early start, meeting at the café at the tram stop at 9am, where a team of volunteers is already setting up the start and route for at least an hour.  
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Croydon University Hospital Chaplaincy Team

There has always been a chaplain at Croydon University Hospital since its opening as the Infirmary Chapel for the Croydon Union Workhouse. The first Chaplain conducted worship in the Board Room – it wasn’t until 10 years later that a Chapel was built and then it was very basic – nothing too good was needed for the pauper patients. 

Fast forward 1¼ centuries and CUH as it is now called serves a very different population in a much larger, far busier hospital.  As I remind staff on their induction we have every spirituality from Agnostics to Zoroastrians. There are now two paid Chaplains who provide a 24/7 service but who cannot, even if they worked all the hours of every day, meet all the needs of patients, relatives and staff. Fortunately we are blessed with a large number of skilled and sensitive honorary and voluntary Chaplains. 

Faith community leaders and representatives from all the faiths represented in the Borough generously work with the full time chaplains to provide emergency cover when needed.

We will be recruiting a limited number of new chaplaincy volunteers for our various faith teams. This is a three stage process beginning with a 9 week introductory course running on Thursday evenings from 7th April 2016 to 2nd June 7-9 pm. To find out more details or to request an application form please email or phone 020 8401 3105.

To read the full article click here

Teamwork! Sabina Qureshi one of our Muslim Chaplains with Anne Gowlland from our Christian Team.

MAC Soup Kitchen - every Friday from 7 p.m.

The Muslim Association of Croydon better known as MAC provides a free service of hot food, tea, coffee, cakes, biscuits, fruit, bottled water etc.  This is an essential community service and operates from the forecourt of the Dunhevan Hotel, 641 London Road, opposite Croydon University Hospital every Friday night from 7 pm till food has gone.

All are welcome to partake in the hot freshly cooked food, drinks and other goodies that we provide and we do not ask anyone any questions.

This all came about at a Faiths Together in Croydon meeting back in 2012.  The meeting discussions centered on the plight of the homeless.  Organisations that explained they were at  breaking point due to the cuts and the increasing demands placed upon them especially over the cold Christmas and festive season.

We receive and accept kind donations from other organisations and the general public who we encourage to come and give out their donation themselves and meet the needy that they are assisting.

The cost of feeding the homeless is about £3.00 per head. MAC is very stretched and is now serving 125 meals hot meals per evening to the poor and needy. 

For Muslims feeding the poor is a duty and we at MAC are pleased to announce that we have been providing this very essential free service for 4 years now.  The Muslim Association of Croydon (MAC) funds this themselves from within the group members and any kind donation that well-wishers may give from time to time.

MAC has served over 18,500 hot meals to date and very much hope to sustain this as long as it is needed in our community.

St Mildred's Drop In
St Mildred’s Church, Addiscombe, continues to hold their ‘Drop-in’ for the local homeless and needy.  First set-up in November 2007, as part of the Croydon Churches Floating Shelter scheme, the Drop-in sought to offer respite to those with nowhere to go on Sunday afternoons.  This is a time when many feel most keenly the loss of family life, leading to depression, self-harm and anti-social behaviour.  Initially, the Drop-in welcomed 12-15 guests, but word soon spread.  The average attendance is now 55-60 people each Sunday, closing only in August.

The Drop-in represents a constant safe place for those whose lives have become chaotic and frightening.  Physically, the Drop-in provides shelter and warmth in a bright and cosy atmosphere.  There are hot refreshments, showers, clean clothing, new underwear, toiletries, newspapers, music, art and even haircuts!  All these labours and gifts are supplied by multi-faith volunteers, friends and neighbours.  Most of all, there is empathy, support and a listening ear.   Everyone is treated with respect.

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Mediation for Neighbours

Last Sunday we went to the Hindu Christmas lunch which was very enjoyable. People from all sorts of groups, and different faiths were there and the lunch was delicious. While there I spoke to someone from Croydon community mediation who work to help neighbours who are in dispute sort out the problems. This seems to be a really good idea as if you start to involve lawyers the costs can get very high. Their website is and the telephone number is 020 8686 6084. 

Talking about Islam

Muhammed Siddiqui ( held an event at the Gallery ( at Matthews Yard on 21st January which was too late to get into this newsletter but I am sure there will be other opportunities. His plan is to create a safe place for people to ask questions about Islam without fear of worrying about political correctness and trying to break down some barriers on understanding to promote understanding and knowledge amongst the community in Croydon.  He is also on twitter if anyone would like to follow @islam_discuss

International Women’s Day 2016 
International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. 

The Council’s Women’s Staff Network and its partners will be marking and celebrating International Women’s Day 2016 with a week-long of activities and events namely Croydon International Women’s Week.  This will be held from Tues 1st-Tues 8th Mar 2016.

The theme for IWD this year is ‘Pledge for Parity’.  This is about closing the gender gap whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.

The Council would like to publicise and promote activities and events to mark International Women’s Day.  If your group or organisation will be holding an event or activity and would like to have this publicised and promoted please contact Yvonne Okiyo on 0208 726 6000 ext. 63265 or email by noon Friday 29th January 2016.
Croydon Spacehive
Have you got an idea for transforming a public space in Croydon? Support is available to help prepare crowd-funded ideas for activating space.

The council has teamed up with Spacehive to create a dedicated web-page for projects in the borough. Your idea has to improve the space in some way, but the scope is very wide.

Perhaps, like the Cardiff Community Cohesion Cup, or one Bristol resident, you want to close your road for a day and install a huge water slide for the community to enjoy.  Or, maybe, draw your inspiration from a successful Croydon project to realise one man's ambition to grow crocuses and harvest their saffron on a cleared development site in central Croydon. Local resident Ally McKinlay secured just over £4,000 from 107 backers.

To discuss an idea you have, email
Music Industry Artists Lines up to Judge Kids' Heart-Felt Songs
School children could be in with a chance of recording a self-composed song by singing from the heart in a competition closing on Friday 29 January.

The Healthy Heart Song competition for Croydon primary and secondary school pupils aims to get local children to write a song that celebrates what we can all do to keep our hearts young and healthy. 

The competition has been organised for Croydon Heart Town, a British Heart Foundation initiative working with councils and communities in 50 towns to fight heart disease and raise funds for lifesaving research. 

The competition winners will be announced during National Heart Month in February. The competition information and rules are available online at

Read more
Friends of the Phoenix Croydon is a community arts group that aims to provide Croydon with its first ever Chinese New Year Parade on Sunday 7th February 2016.

For details see the Faiths Together In Croydon website or follow on Twitter @CroydonPhoenix! or Facebook Croydon Phoenix
CNCA Befriending Coordinator

£15,600   25 hours per week

Looking to appoint a self starter who has a knowledge of carers, running support groups, befriending services and understand the needs and support that carers require. Must have good attention to detail, experience of running groups, organising events and managing budgets.

Closing Date: 31 January 2016

To apply please either call 020 8662 1000 or email


Future events

Interfaith bike ride and picnic:  After the success of last year's event, we will be arranging another on Sunday 5th June 2015.  More details to follow but keep the date free.

Chinese New Year event:  Sunday 7th February, Croydon Town Centre - details to be confirmed

Dates to be arranged:
Interfaith Football Tournament
Hate Crime Conference

If you have any events you would like to advertise in the Faiths Together in Croydon please send them to  The next newsletter will be in April/May.

Safeguarding Children Training

Are your staff and volunteers up-to-date with their training?

CVA is providing all levels of Safeguarding Children training this autumn.  Please check the
website for details.  Book soon to take advantage of our Early bird discount. The sessions, delivered by Susan Taylor of Tailor Made Training Solutions, have proved extremely popular.  During 2015 every participant rated the delivery at 5/6 or 6/6.
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