Islington Park St Community is a group home consisting of 18 single adults with mixed needs. We have no overriding philosophy apart from our desire to live communally.
We believe that living in London as a single adult does not have to mean living alone in a one bedroom flat or in a house with others where little is shared. Living collectively creates the possibility of a home environment which is so much more supportive and nurturing. Home is not just the bricks and the walls, or the postcode; it is the people in the house and the local community around us. We believe in living together and sharing resources. Each individual contributes according to their abilities for the benefit of all.
(Read testimonial from J Adrian Longstaffe BVetMed MRCVS MBACP PhD)
How we work
Each community is different, but for us it is important that we try to eat together. There is a cooking rota and each resident is asked to contribute once every three weeks. This means that there is a communal meal available most evenings. Our visitors say that this is one of the things that makes our community special and so warm and welcoming. Mealtimes are a great opportunity to touch base with other residents.
The community buys all of its food and general household products collectively. We try to cater for residents’ varied diets. This means that we have a weekly fruit and veg shop (from Chapel Market), a supermarket shop, and a bi-monthly wholefood and CostCo shop.
The community operates on a purely democratic basis, and all decisions are made collectively at our monthly house meetings. The community organises all house finances collectively under the care of a treasurer, who is a resident elected to the position by the other house members. Each resident pays a lump sum, which includes rent, utilities, food etc. The treasurer is then responsible for recording residents’ payments and ensuring that all bills are paid. The community keeps accounts of all monies received from residents, and all transactions it conducts with business and service providers.
Residents share all the tasks necessary for the smooth and safe running of the house. This may involve doing a weekly shop, cleaning toilets, vacuuming stairs or even feeding our resident cat, Lily.
The community asks that its members show respect for the ethos of the house and consideration to other residents.
Health and psychological benefits of communal living
Living in a community helps with the inevitable loneliness of an exciting but increasingly isolating metropolis. There is always someone around to talk to in our house and evening meals gives everyone a moment to meet and talk together. Increased isolation is particularly a growing problem for the elderly in London; our older residents benefit significantly from the social interaction that this way of living allows. We think we manage to strike a balance between support and individual privacy.
Residents’ physical health also benefits as we support each other through periods of sickness, and also as we take it in turn to cook healthy meals for each other. We can afford to buy better quality food than individuals could afford if they were living alone. Those who are no longer able to cook are provided with meals by other residents.
Economical benefits of communal living
Sharing resources greatly reduces the cost of living. Our collective bills for utilities such as heating and electricity are quite low per person compared with living alone or with only a few other people. The quality of items that we can buy also goes up as the cost goes down – the beauty of economies of scale in a communal living context.
Environmental benefits of communal living
As well as the obvious ecological benefits of sharing resources, we have a green policy within the house. We create our own compost and currently one of our former residents is using her permaculture training to design our garden. Our cleaning products are ecologically sound and we have a strong recycling system.