Why I am proud to call Tottenham ‘home’

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

There is that odd moment, when I’m at a dinner party and people ask me where I live.

As the word ‘Tottenham’ exits my mouth strange things happen, from looks of sympathy to a discreet check to see if their wallet is still in their pocket!

As I approach my 30th year of living in Tottenham, I often get asked why I don’t move, like it is an expectation and those who do live here do so because they don’t have any other choice.

Like many people in Tottenham I can afford to move but choose not to. My choice is to stay.

The lenses on my glasses are not tinted in a shade of rose; after working for almost 16 years with young people, especially those who face intense need, the social issues facing Tottenham are plain to see.

The media, and to some extent politicians who reel off statistics illustrating society breakdown in our area remind us constantly.

However, despite all the attention we get, there is little mention of the uniqueness Tottenham possesses, a place where you can get on the bus and see it full of people from more 40 different parts of the world, some who decorate your eye with their vibrant array of traditional clothes that paints an image of genuine human unity rarely seen in any other part of the world.

William Forster and The Tottenham Quakers were instrumental in the abolishment of world slavery, and as a town we once had many tributes to his work including a school in his name, but now his existence in our history has little acknowledgement.

Rowland Hill resided in Bruce Castle when he conceived the idea of the postage stamp, a revolutionary piece of paper that transformed the way people across the world communicate, yet generations of Tottenham residents have no knowledge of this amazing accomplishment and have no idea why so many old post boxes fill the gardens of the Castle.

We have an abundance of fantastic young people who have opened successful businesses ranging from cupcakes, fashion, restaurants and media, alongside very impressive academic achievers studying in the top universities of the UK obtaining the highest grades.

Tottenham is the birth place of the ‘Pizza Go Go’ chain, the location where the head office for the prestigious fashion label Gina is based and the home of Venus Wines and Spirits, a PLC company.

While we have challenges to overcome, ignoring our accomplishments enables those issues to grow, manifest and embed.

We have never capitalised on the successes we have on our doorstep and celebrate our achievements, but just imagine the dinner party reactions I would get if we did.

This piece was also featured in the Tottenham Journal