Croydon's High Street is littered with closed store fronts and boarded windows — the impact of years of recessions, neglect and Covid-19 evident on every street corner.

Look a little closer, however, and you might just notice some green shoots defiantly pushing their way back through the deep freeze.

One of them can be found at the British Heart Foundation charity shop at number 72 on the High Street.

Though months of Covid lockdowns and layoffs have hit an already struggling high street in Croydon badly, the latest reopening has seen this plucky charity shop become one of the rare recent success stories in the heart of the town centre, as Manager Lauren told the Croydon Guardian during a recent visit:

"During lockdown we missed all our colleagues and all our customers, we get a lot of regular customers. Since we've reopened it's been brilliant," she said. "All our regular people are coming back, so it's been really positive.

"We're also getting a lot of donations which is wonderful! People had clear-outs during lockdown so we've had mountains of donations to go through but it's been really positive."

Your Local Guardian: British Heart Foundation in Croydon (72 High Street). British Heart Foundation in Croydon (72 High Street).

Lauren said that her colleagues in the surrounding areas had also shared similar experiences.

One less-expected side-effect of the confinement brought by the Covid-19 pandemic has been our reaction to staying inside with all our accumulated stuff.

It seems that, at least in this instance, the experience has led to a realisation that perhaps we might not need all the items we own, and that they could in fact be repurposed for a good cause instead.

"Across the board when I speak with all my colleagues in the area and that surrounding us, it's been really good and we're getting a lot more donations through the door since the lockdown. I think as well in Croydon, because a lot of the shops have shut, people are coming to the charity shops because we have lovely, unusual things at excellent prices," Lauren said.

As for Croydon in particular, however, as Lauren alluded to, there is still no denying the depth of the economic malaise in the town centre, where just metres away sits the town hall from which Croydon Council effectively declared bankruptcy last year.

That episode drew allegations of mismanaged finances at the local political level. It also shone a light on a clear lack of outside investment in the area more generally, from central government and private enterprise, despite the immense potential Croydon as one of London's biggest and most populous boroughs.

"For us, we haven't been effected by the fact that our High Street has, sadly, gone downhill," Lauren said.

Your Local Guardian: Closed shop fronts on Croydon High StreetClosed shop fronts on Croydon High Street

"I'm optimistic about the future with the enthusiasm we're seeing in this shop, I'm just saddened by the demise we are seeing in Croydon Town Centre having worked in Allders for many years, having lived in Croydon for many years."

Despite the sadness all around, though, hope springs eternal.

"I just think it's so, so sad what's happening what's happening in the town's not in a good way at all. I think because there are more properties being built everywhere there's got to be something in the pipeline. Otherwise there's going to be thousands of people moving here with no town centre to speak of. So I'm positive that someone will come in and do something with the Whitgift Centre for example. It would be crazy not to because there is so much potential in Croydon. I do believe that something is going to happen but hopefully it will be soon."