Here Ashleigh Zempashi explains why she loves Thornton Heath.


I moved to Thornton Heath almost eight years ago and honestly, had my concerns because of its reputation. I need not have worried. 

As a child, my father was in the army. We moved around a lot and settled in Croydon 23 years ago. I continued to move around the borough, especially during my early adulthood. Nowhere ever really felt like home. I was never particularly close with neighbours. Never liked an area enough to want to stay. 

Moving to Thornton Heath was like a breath of fresh air. My neighbours were friendly from the very start and not just ones next door. My family have a great rapport with lots of residents on streets nearby, on the school run, in local shops… it’s really quite refreshing! There is such community spirit here and some wonderful people. 

I love Thornton Heath for its incredible artwork. My family helped to paint Bensham Manor Passage a few years ago and it makes us smile every time we walk through it. There are so many amazing pieces across the area. It’s a joy to look at and know that somebody here cared enough to make it happen. 

I think a lot of us focus on the negatives far too much in life. Every area has its negative attributes, but I can overlook them to a degree here because of the people. The people working in the allotments behind our house, who are always happy to speak to our children over the garden wall. The lady from the ‘yellow shop’ on Bensham Manor Road, who gives them little treats for free and asks how we all are. The staff in Tesco who make the effort to be friendly and familiar, no matter how their day is going. The amazing residents who report flytipping, litter pick themselves, take care of the planters and parks. There are so many fabulous people here. People make a place. And I’ve finally found somewhere I don’t want to leave.