I started coming to Men’s Cooking at Abbey Road several years ago, quite by chance. I saw an advert in the Camden Journal and thought ‘Why not? I’ll give it a go.’ I’d just lost my wife and was going through a difficult time and I was hoping to bond with people and take my mind off things.
The cooking appealed to me because it was something my wife had always been good at. I didn't know how I was going to manage, but I thought that by taking the classes I might feel closer to her – and maybe learn some new skills too. I’ve enjoyed the sessions and kept coming each week. I don’t know how much my cooking’s improved, but we’re all learning at about the same rate.
I think North London Cares is very valuable. We live in a fractured society and people like me have almost no contact with young people. But here, there’s almost a sense of family between the men who do the classes. You belong.
For a long time, I'd felt I didn't have family in London. The city has always been wonderful for younger people, with friends and colleagues all around, but it can feel like a lonely place if you don't feel part of that busyness.
North London Cares have become my family. The young people who I've met – who I spend time with regularly, throughout the week – have brought humour, kindness and friendship into my life. They give me so much to look forward to, on such a regular basis.
That's what North London Cares is all about – so many opportunities to learn new things, to meet new people, to experience London and everything it has to offer, all in the company of some of the young people from all over the world that make this city so wonderful.
Those friendships have helped me to rehabilitate. Before I started coming to social clubs, and having a younger neighbour join me once a week at home, I wasn't very well. I was alone. But North London Cares phoned and invited me to so many activities. It's really got me back on my feet again.
In the last year I’ve been to a wonderful gathering of music, food and fun at the Jazz Café. It’s right on my doorstep but I’d never been before. We had a blast! I’ve been to classic movie nights, tea parties, pub quiz afternoons, and even visited the Sky Garden for the most amazing view over London.
Each session was with people from so many interesting places sharing one another’s company, learning from one another, and forming friendships. North London Cares is my family now. The young people have lifted me back onto my feet.