A ‘public living room’ has opened with the aim of giving people some much needed respite and sanctuary during their time of need.
The large teepee, put up in the main entrance at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, is full of fairy lights, rugs, sofas, and beanbags, and will be open to staff, patients, and visitors 24/7 until Monday, July 24.
It opened as a ‘space where we can all look out for each other’ in partnership with Camerados, a group that started with a belief in a simple but powerful idea: that you can beat tough times through friends and purpose.
The movement already runs a cafe inside Blackpool Central Library, and has recently gone global after opening public living rooms in the USA, but this one is unique in that it is the first in a hospital and a teepee.
Development manager Sarah Mortimer, a trained counsellor, said: “We wanted something that would create such an impact in a clinical setting, where you walk past and ask, ‘What’s that?’
“We wanted to create intrigue. Hospitals can be a scary place so we wanted to bring some fun to it. We wanted to offer a bit of comfort and company.”
The tent is not always manned, but friendly signs remind those who enter it of Camerados’ five principles.
They include asking people to help you because it helps them too, to recognise that failure is important and diversity makes us all stronger, to challenge stigma, and to have fun.
Sarah added: “We all go through tough times and that’s why we have created public living rooms. We want to try and test out what ways we can support each other.
“Our biggest message is we are all the same, and have a bit of a bad time at times. The teepee is just a way of trying to support others.
“We had a guy come in yesterday who had been told he was terminally ill, and he had nobody at home. He came in and said he just needed to sit down and have a breather and a chat to someone who was not a professional.
“He said if he had not, he does not know what would have happened when he walked out the door.”
Postcards have been put out asking visitors for their thoughts, and one piece of feedback said: “Thank you so much! I am an outpatient in the hospital, having a really tough time with anxiety.
“This space was exactly what I needed to relax and feel safe. Please stay!”
Another added: “This concept is helping to bring the community together. This human connection is missing from society.”