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New idea for Camden’s big wheelie bins: Have a tea party on them?

Hope that neighbourhood events could combat isolation

26 October, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Wendy Richards sitting on a wheelie bin

A RETIRED teacher is using Camden’s new big bins as benches for community tea parties aimed at ending loneliness and isolation in her street.

Wendy Richards, who lives in Parkhill Road, Belsize Park, said she packed out her front garden with neighbours sitting on the bins earlier this summer.

She said: “There’s space for 20 people in my front garden and now we have those huge dustbins, I just put them on their side. You can get three people sitting on one of those. We have such fun – I think my old neighbours will die laughing.”

She added: “I’m now more ancient than I should be, but I never ever think I’m old, unless I look in the mirror.”

Big bins were introduced across Camden in April after the council cut residents’ weekly rubbish collection. The bins have proved controversial because of the space they take up in front gardens, but Ms Richards said they could be put to good use and hopes her tea party bin bench idea catches on.

She said the lunch club she goes to at St Anne’s, Highgate, is under threat and she has spoken to elderly people who have not seen or spoken to anyone for more than a week. She has some handy tips to help break the ice with neighbours in the street.

Ms Richards said: “I recently found out that ears are unique – like your fingerprints are – so now I’m going around looking at people’s ears. Some are shaped like an oyster. Have you got a positive conversa­tion starter? Some people are very attached to their sticks. Some people’s sticks have a long history, some don’t. Look at mine, it’s beautiful and lots of people ask me about my stick. That’s a good way to start talking to someone.”

The issue of isolation among the elderly was highlighted when the New Journal reported earlier this month on the case of 85- year-old Patricia Simoni, whose body was found at her home in Agincourt Road, Gospel Oak, around six weeks after her death.


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