Crystal Palace Transition Town celebrated their eighth anniversary on Tuesday with around 120 people at the Salvation Army centre on Westow Street.

As well as running the hugely successful Saturday food market in  Haynes Lane, Transition Town also run the Library of Things in Upper Norwood library; Patchwork Farm which sells fruit from many local gardens at the food market – and many more local groups.

Other local groups which Transition Town doesn’t run were invited to this year’s annual meeting – including Palace and Penge Women’s Institute; the Sylvan Road death café; Upper Norwood Hive; the ACHE (Anerley Community Heritage Education) garden in Crystal Palace park; Crystal Palace Magnolia club (drop in group for people with dementia and their carers); the Norwood Society and the Crystal Palace community trust which is based in the former Anerley town hall.

Opening the meeting, Transition Town co-chair Joe Duggan said the meeting was about “all the fantastic groups in the community. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

“Tonight is a night of celebration but there is an elephant in the room – our friends on Central Hill estate are going through a really difficult time.”

He recalled that in 2011 the first annual Transition Town meeting attracted just 27 people.

Salvation Army Major Phil Layton asked everyone: “If you know anyone in the community who is going to be alone on Christmas Day and doesn’t want to be – please let us know.”

Transition Town groups and invited local groups then all gave a brief resume of what they are about.

Biggest rounds of applause at the evening came for the teenagers who help put up and take down the stalls at the Saturday foodmarket in Haynes Lane. Here’s what they said:

Sam: “I started volunteering a year ago. “It’s been the foundation for all my work skills. “I help run the pasta stall. “I know I’ve kept myself out of trouble.”

Miles: “I started volunteering about six months ago. “The main thing it helped me improve was being on time.” (Laughter).

Kuba: “I’ve volunteered for just over two years. “I’d like to thank Karen and Laura (who run the food market) for the opportunities they have given us.”

Alex: “I started volunteering six months ago. “It’s allowed me to improve my people skills and communication, improved talking to people and getting out of the house. “It helps me and it helps the area.”

Andre: “It taught me how to get along with people a bit better. “It’s given me a purpose. “I didn’t see the point of volunteering. “Now I’m happy to go there every week.”

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