Camerados cafe set to close as boss says ‘We need to get out of the way’

Camerados volunteers and customers at the Living Room Cafe in the Central Library
Camerados volunteers and customers at the Living Room Cafe in the Central Library

A cafe launched inside Blackpool Central Library so people could ‘look out for each other’ is set to close.

The founder of Camerados, Maff Potts, said it’s because people using the cafe had started to rely on staff for help, rather than each other.

And he said some services in the town had claimed it was ‘responsible for the drug problem in the streets’ and were ‘putting people’s recovery at risk’.

“Wonderful things have happened in that library living room,” Maff said.

“There are countless remarkable stories but we’ve decided it needs a big reboot because there are some barriers in the way of it truly flying.

“Basically, we have to get out of the way.”

The cafe, which opened last year, will close next month, with two jobs lost. The public living room, where people can still go and talk to others, will also close, though Maff hopes one can reopen in a different spot.

Maff said living rooms elsewhere – there are 11 others around the world – and the teepee put up in the main entrance of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, have proved to be successful.

But he said ‘the idea of paid staff’ at the library ‘upsets the balance of the model’.

He said: “It’s a fascinating human observation but by having cafe staff – even brilliant people – we’ve seen over time that it stops people who come in from taking action.

“They stop being a Camerado and looking out for each other. They think that’s our job.”

Maff also said ‘various agencies’ had accused the cafe and living room of being the ‘source for all sorts of things’.

He declined to name them, saying ‘we’re not into the scoring points game’, but added: “We’ve heard that they’ve called for us to be closed down.”

If you’re interested in opening a public living room in the resort, email Sarah Mortimer on sarah@camerados.org