When I first went into Flapjacks on Kentish Town Road I walked out within a minute and vowed never to go again. I’d asked a simple question, wasn’t given a simple answer, there was some dithering – and so I left.
I subsequently found out that Flapjacks is a community project; a social enterprise café run by The Camden Society and staffed by disabled people (in my experience, with mental disabilities).
And so I felt a little guilty, yet intrigued, when my daughter informed me that she wanted to buy a picture that was on sale there. It was time to go back.
The place isn’t well decorated, the service not polished in a swanky sort of cafe-culture way and, Kentishtowners, the coffee is pretty average. But the employees try hard: they want us to have a nice time, and take pride in their work.
I’m heartened that it exists, that there are patient, caring, supportive people who want to work there and help their colleagues. I’m heartened too that there are places to go for those who haven’t been dealt the best hand, where they can have a purpose, make a difference and earn some money.
London has a high ratio of individuals with mental health problems and lots of us can be guilty of demonising them, or being a bit frightened. Flapjacks helps me turn them back into people. In short, when I go in there I’m glad to be alive.
Words: James Beevers
Image: Transition Kentish Town