‘Love Not Hate’ Young Stars of Croydon: Uniting Communities and Empowering Youth through Talent and Unity

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The Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon event held on Saturday, 2nd March 2024, at Whitgift School, was a resounding success, bringing together the community in a celebration of talent and unity. The event, organised by Manju Shahul-Hameed Foundation for Mental Health reg charity 1176447, aimed to combat hate crimes and knife violence incidents through positivity and celebration.
The Love Not Hate movement emerged in 2016 in response to rising hate crimes post-Brexit referendum, aiming to promote unity and combat violence through collective action. This year’s event took on added significance following the rise in knife crime incidents, highlighting the urgent need for community-driven initiatives to address knife crime in Croydon.

Interfaith Prayer and Community Leadership

The event commenced with Interfaith Prayer by faith leaders lead by Father Andrew Dovey, Lead for Chaplaincy at Croydon University Hospital. Father Andrew Dovey and Paster Damian Luke represented Christianity, Surinder Kaur Sahota from Croydon Gurudwara represented Sikhism, Imam Inaam-Ul-Haq from Croydon Mosque and Islamic Centre represented Islam, Nitin Mehta MBE represented Hindu.
Cllr Tony Pearson, the Civic Mayor of Croydon, remarked, “The Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon event is a testament to our community’s resilience and determination to combat hate and violence. It’s heartening to see our young individuals come together to showcase their talents and promote positivity in our community.”
Commander Stephen Clayman, Head of Specialist Crime at Metropolitan Police Service, emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing knife crime. “Events like Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon play a crucial role in empowering young people and fostering community engagement. Together, we can work towards a safer and brighter future for Croydon,” he said.

Diverse Performances 

The event featured a diverse range of performances by Croydon High School, Croydon Gymnastics Club, KCWA, KCWA Trust, Legacy Youth Zone, London Hindu Aikyavedi, Moxie Academy, Mr and Miss Teen Nigeria UK, My Ends, New Addington Boxing Club, Ponsita Arts School, Shirley high school Performing Arts, The Brit School, The Chicaffians, The Rock Project, Upahaar School Of Dance and the special guest Nate Simpson.

Insightful Panel Discussions

The panel discussion on knife crime was chaired by Antony King, who is the chair of MyEnds, with the Panel members Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, who is the Borough of Commander, Rupa Patel, owner and Executive Director of Day Lewis Pharmacy, Tilisha Goupal, JFJ Foundation, Emma Carter, Service Manager, Childrens Social Care, Croydon council, Alecia Blackford, Head of Community Engagement, Reaching Higher Youth Charity. The panel sessions provided insights into tackling knife crime and enhancing mental health support for youth, underscoring the event’s commitment to finding solutions and empowering young individuals.
Hayden, a participant from The Rock Project, an organisation dedicated to empowering young individuals, including those with special educational needs and mental health challenges, expressed his gratitude, stating, “it was the best performance opportunity I’ve ever had, the audience was amazing and all the speakers were really passionate about the event.”
“The ‘Love Not Hate’ gala was our first public performance and it was an amazing experience. It has encouraged us to not only be better people but be better performers. Having the opportunity to experience different identities, styles and cultures was refreshing and inspiring. We did well but continue to strive for better.” These are the words from the young dancers of Shirley High School Performing Arts College. The students used words and physical movements to convey the devastating impact of knife crime on individuals, families, and communities. Through this performance they showcased the pain, fear and loss experienced by those affected by knife crime.

Distinguished Speakers and Guests


The speakers included representatives from the Metropolitan Police, local businesses, and community organisations; Civic Mayor of Croydon Cllr Tony Pearson; Commander Stephen Clayman, Head of Specialist Crime at Metropolitan Police Service; Sarah Jones MP; Lord Brett McLean; Executive Mayor Jason Perry; Toni Letts OBE, chair of Manju Shahul-Hameed Foundation for Mental Health; Sheela Pillai, Volunteer Programme Coordinator of the charity; Dr. Agnelo Fernandez MBE; Colonel Ray Wilkinson; Amanda Vale, Croydon Council Post 19 pathways at Waddon Youth Centre; Andrew Brown, CEO of Croydon BME Forum; Brian Duffus, CEO of Duffus Foundation; and Dayle Kirby, Deputy Head at Whitgift School.

Some of the guests in attendance included Mayor of Islington Cllr Gary Heather and Mayoress Cllr Tricia Clarke, Past Mayors Cllr Philip Abraham, Cllr Sherwan Chowdhury, Cllr Humayun Kabir, Councillors Prabhakar Kaza, Cllr Patsy Cummings, Cllr Eunice O’Dame, Cllr Aaditya Kaza, Cllr Kola Agboola and Cllr Alisa Flemming.

Prestigious Commemoration for  significant Contributions

During the ceremony, Colonel Ray Wilkinson QVRM TD DL VR, King Charles III’s representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Croydon, bestowed Toni Letts OBE and Cllr Dr. Manju Shahul-Hameed with prestigious commemorative coins. This marked the inception of an annual tradition where Colonel Wilkinson would distribute six of these special coins each year to individuals throughout Croydon, acknowledging their significant contributions to the borough. Toni and Manju were honoured as the inaugural recipients of this esteemed recognition.

Fundraising and Generous Sponsorship

The event aimed to raise funds in support of the Civic Mayor of Croydon’s charities and the Manju Shahul-Hameed Foundation for Mental Health. Sponsors including Ace Accountancy Services, Blue Light Group, Coop, Day Lewis Pharmacy, Grand Sapphire, London Flooring, Rowland Brothers Foundation and Wates family Enterprise Trust and others generously supported the event, contributing to its success. The event was graciously hosted by Whitgift School at no cost.


Recognizing Contributions and Support

Toni Letts OBE, Chair of Manju Shahul-Hameed Foundation for Mental Health, expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support received. “The Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon event embodies the spirit of community resilience and solidarity. The event was a huge success with nearly 150 young performers, over 50 volunteers and 600 guests and it was SOLD OUT on Eventbrite. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of our young individuals,” she said.

The event also received support from local faith leaders, community organisations, and volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to ensure its success. Their contributions were instrumental in creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all attendees.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who supported and participated in the Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon event,” said Zoe Larkai Doherty, volunteer Communication Officer and ambassador for the charity. “Together, we can overcome hate and violence and build a brighter future for our community.”


Inspiring Hope for a Better Future

The Love Not Hate Young Stars of Croydon event serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of community unity and the importance of empowering young individuals to create positive change. As Croydon continues its efforts to combat hate and violence, events like these provide hope and inspiration for a better tomorrow.