Community members get active in Croydon

Local gyms can feel like an intimidating space for some, so finding a comfortable place to exercise is essential to supporting fitness. Located in the Upper Mall of the Centrale shopping centre, and supported by Hammerson’s management team, Croydon Voluntary Action’s (CVA) Active Community Hub delivers free activities to improve the physical, mental health of Croydon residents. Supporting people who may not access the gym regularly, the hub aims to develop healthy habits that support positive wellbeing and social interaction.

Since its launch in May 2021 fitness activities community partners including Mind in Croydon, London Sport, Yoga and the mind, Home Instead and Project for Youth Empowerment, has created a welcoming community space for 250 local people to get active and connect with others.

Through activities including yoga, tai chi, table tennis and badminton Croydon residents are improving their fitness. Their most popular session, yoga started virtually during the pandemic and has become a favourite amongst residents. Through fitness, class instructor Gayetri hopes the sessions will bring people together to realise and develop their strengths. Here she shares what she enjoys about teaching at the hub: “I’ve been teaching yoga for almost 15 years and I’ve realised that people need simple gentle exercise and a place to feel like home and family. People miss that feeling that somebody cares. People come to the hub to feel that warmth and happiness. We all enjoy being together.”

Building connections with others through yoga

“I get satisfaction and peace of mind that people feel good. Seeing people connect to each other and hearing them feed back that they feel less shy from coming to exercise with others gives me real satisfaction. A lot of people feared to come out after the pandemic but being in person really uplifts people.” In this video Bev shares how the sessions have helped her to relieve stress and find a sense of community.

A holistic approach to nutrition and wellbeing

Alongside fitness improvement, CVA’s partnerships with local community groups are creating pathways to access social, health and wellbeing services. Recognising the diverse needs of attendees many classes have enabled residents to also engage with more holistic wellbeing support services. Earlier this month, CVA’s work with refugees at the hub resulted in a visit to Good Food Matters community kitchen and garden.

Bringing together health nutrition and community building, the session bought people together to cook nutritious meals to enhance their wellbeing as they shared their cooking passions. Through group exercises centred around food nutrition, people who often find themselves isolated were brought together through the joy of home-grown food to build connections, confidence, and new skills.

If you’d like to take part, contact for more information.

Find out more about CVA’s activities hub.