CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘Living room’ installed outside church to combat isolation

Residents run knitting classes, guitar lessons and political talks

11 May, 2017 — By Tom Foot

The new ‘living room’ outside St Michael’s

A PUBLIC living room has been set up in the heart of Camden Town in a bid to tackle isolation across the borough.

An independent charity, Camerados, has moved into the front gardens St Michael’s Church and wants people to come along, pop in, sit down, have a cup of tea and help out. Residents have started running knitting classes, guitar lessons and political talks among other things and everyone is welcome for free.

The scheme, which has proved popular in Baltimore and Brooklyn in America, is non-religious and there is no obligation to unburden your problems to anyone. Camerados chief Maff Potts said there was a straightforward remedy for isolated people.

“It’s friends and having a purpose,” he said. “I’ve worked with homeless people for 20 years and I found that is the most important thing you can do for someone in trouble.”

Mr Potts, originally from Carlisle, said that the Camerados charity was about “being a good neighbour”, adding: “There is no round table stuff. It’s just people and sofas and armchairs.”

Mr Potts added: “We are extremely grateful for all of Fr Tom’s help in setting up our new living room.”

The vicar of St Michael’s, Fr Tom Plant, said “We are really pleased to be hosting London’s first Public Living Room. St Michael’s is a place of sanctuary and healing for the isolation and mental stresses of life in the capital, and our mission as a church has always been to help make a family out of strangers.”

The Public Living Room is open until May 28 and Camerados are looking for an organisation to keep it running.

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