Upcycled furniture and Cr’Oyster mushroom starter kits will be among the offerings at the launch of CRO – the borough’s newest not for profit ‘pop-up’ enterprise.
The Croydon Reuse Organisation (CRO) is launching at 1 Church Road on Friday, February 3 (4-8pm) to showcase the organisation’s two strands of operation – the production of furniture made with young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) as a readiness to work programme and the growing of Cr’Oyster mushrooms.
The project has transformed a vacant plot of council-owned land, bringing to life an underused area in the town centre which has been affected by low footfall and anti-social behaviour.
Commissioned by Croydon Council and funded by the Greater London Authority’s Mayor Regeneration Fund, CRO was designed and delivered by MUF architecture/art and its units built by the Office for Crafted Architecture (OfCA). It is run by Croydon residents Eunice and Andrew Dickinson, with Blue Touch Consultancy.
Adil Adair, a former trainee who is now a workshop manager at CRO said: “The whole project from the beginning to now has been life changing for me, from building with Nico (OfCA) and learning skills, to being here now and running the workshops.
“This is a different kind of enjoyment helping these young people, as I’ve been where they are and I can feel their pain and now I can make a difference to them and what they will do.”
Since CRO began operation in October 2016, more than 20 young people have participated in over 40 workshop sessions, taking on commissions to build furniture, including for the Park Life café in Lloyd Park.
The project aims to fill a gap in provision for young people in Croydon, and is a keystone in the bridge to employment and independence.
The same model of making was used in the construction of the units at 1 Church Road, which were built by the Office for Crafted Architecture with a team of care leavers and young offenders who were mentored by Bluetouch Consultancy.
As well as upcycled furniture, CRO produces the Cr’Oyster mushrooms, grown on used coffee grounds collected from coffee retailers across the borough. The mushrooms take about six weeks to grow and are sold to both individuals and Croydon restaurants, with the income reinvested in the business to expand the cycle.
Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “CRO is a really exciting enterprise and an excellent example of how meanwhile use projects can bring different people together and boost community cohesion, while helping local people.”
CRO received an allocation from a £500,000 pot of the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund.
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, added: “I am delighted that we have been able to support this initiative that will help local people to gain new skills and access employment.
“Croydon is experiencing major regeneration and we are always keen to support plans that will boost the local economy.”