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Community charity celebrates 20th anniversary

COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS: (front row l-r) Hazel Dennis, Wilmer Fuller, Gee Bernard and Councillor Pat Clouder (back l-r) Zeal James, Callton Young, Adrian Dennis and Prince Roberts celebrate CAFCO’s 20th anniversary

A CHARITY established by Croydon’s first black councillor to work with the elderly and excluded children has reached its 20-year milestone.

The Croydon African Caribbean Family Association (CACFO), based in Thornton Heath, south London, was founded in 1993 by honorary Alderwoman Gee Bernard to support the black community in areas she felt it had been let down by the local authority.

Callton Young, 54, a trustee at the organisation, said: “She organised the community to discuss its educational, welfare and social needs.

"From that acorn grew CACFO, a charity now running an adult day centre for the people of Croydon and an education centre for excluded children. Hannah Barrett of X Factor fame was a pupil there.”

Young, a retired civil servant who worked in government for 35 years and led the team amending the race relations act following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, added: “I had always been aware of CACFO as my mother went there.

“We have about 20 volunteers who are of different ages and some have been volunteering for the past two decades. Some of them help out in the kitchen, or the garden and with the elderly.”

CAFCO provides various services such as nutritious meals and exercise classes to roughly 40 elders during the week. It receives an estimated 10,000 visitors each year.

The charity has also been recognised for its work with excluded pupils, which is a particular challenge in the borough.

In the 2011/12 academic year, Croydon recorded the highest number of excluded children, with pupils of African and Caribbean heritage representing 36 per cent of that figure – the worst rate of any outer London borough.

A 2010 Ofsted report noted: “The centre provides a good quality of education for its students who make good progress because the quality of the curriculum, teaching and assessment is good.”

Young said: “These statistics show that we need this centre. We want to try to change the perception of Croydon by not concentrating on the negative, but focusing on the positive.”

The charity is partly subsidised by the City Bridge Trust and Croydon Council. However its funding has been severely cut over the past few years.

Young highlighted the need for financial contributions from within the community as well as the goal of growing membership “to ensure that CACFO is here for another 20 years.”

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