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Police shut down fairytale camp on Hampstead Heath

'People cry when they hear my songs - my music is necessary to help people'

03 September, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Freya Gabriel and Ilana Lorraine, founders of the Hampstead Heath camp

A GROUP which set up a “healing camp” on Hampstead Heath have been evicted from their makeshift meeting space, but insist they have done nothing wrong.

The “Fairytale Collective” had been seen on the banks of the Highgate Boating Pond over the summer before the Heath Constabulary stepped in last week.

The ad-hoc group – established by circus skills artist Freya Gabriel and musician Ilana Lorraine – were told to pack up their things and warned that they could face a complete ban from entering the Heath if they continued to host their activities.

But after a new event on Sunday in a spot they had decorated with fairy lights and crystals, the group received a fresh letter from the City of London which said they were trespassing. It gave them a day to gather their things and they were warned not to return for six months. If they did not comply, the City said it would “take steps to remove you and your property immediately”.

Police officers removing the camp [Ron Vester]

The group argue they are no longer sleeping overnight on the common land and therefore the City have no need to move them, and that they should have the same rights as picnickers enjoying the Heath’s open spaces.

Ms Lorraine said: “I am trying to stand up for human rights here. It feels very heavy-handed. “We have been respectful to the land. We have put signs up telling people not to leave litter and we have been keeping it clean.”

The New Journal reported last week on how the City of London was ready to take action.

“The City staff said they wanted to ask us nicely to please give it a break – then they delivered a letter demanding we leave by 5pm,” said Ms Lorraine.

“This isn’t about being a rebel, I want to understand from the City what we can do. We want to make a space that looks magical and where people can come and feel at one.”

Ms Lorraine, a singer-songwriter, has been giving performances which she says have helped people get through the Covid-19 crisis.

She added: “People cry when they hear my songs. My music is necessary to help people. On Sunday, police officers watched me perform with huge smiles on their faces. “The Heath is a magical, spiritual, mystical and sacred space, and what we do adds to it.” She said she felt they had been singled out, adding: “The other day, we saw someone on the opposite hill with a tent. They aren’t offering healing and meditation like we are, but they haven’t been threatened with legal letters.”

The City of London declined to comment further, but last week told the New Journal: “An area of land on the Heath had been occupied for a number of days by a small group. They were camping illegally. The Heath Constabulary informed them that they must leave and were being treated as trespassers. “They have now vacated, and litter in and around the area has been removed by our staff.”

Ms Lorraine said that despite the action taken by the City, the “vibes” that the camp had created should not be wasted – and added that she wanted to find a large house in “Hampstead or Highgate to create a community that offers a range of art and healing”.

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