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Fighting Loneliness With Public Living Rooms

Meet the group combating social isolation through cups of tea.
Courtesy of Camerados
Courtesy of CameradosThe Living Room in Blackpool, England

Crumbs and stripes of jam are left behind on plates, sitting on a polka-dot tablecloth. Clusters of people lounge and chat on sofas and armchairs sprayed with floral patterns or stripes. The space “probably looks a lot like your grandma’s house,” says Maff Potts. “I don’t know if that’s a compliment.” It’s cozy and unpretentious; it invites plopping down and staying put for a while.

Last spring, in cooperation with the local city council, Potts launched the space he calls the Living Room in a public library in Blackpool, England; another location opened last month in the town of Rotherham. Now, the campaign is expanding across the ocean. Two locations are slated to open in New York City this winter: one in Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn. Potts calls the spots a “hub of kindness,” pivotal places to fend off loneliness and build community around shared struggles.