Life and Death in Camden

Book Review - Life and Death Life and Death in Camden
 Barry Tebb, Sixties Press (e-mail:
 No ISBN, £6


Battles against the authorities are a way of life for many service users. This collection of poems – a self-published volume by one of the book’s contributors – is, in essence, a protest against
the proposed closure of a number of day centres in Camden, London, writes Kay Sheldon.

The poetry is prefaced by several letters that have been sent by Tebb to the various authorities complaining about the closure of the centres, using the case of his ex-wife to illustrate the consequences of the closures, together with some responses he received.

The inclusion of these letters is a powerful illustration of how difficult and frustrating it can be to complain about services.

Mostly written by Tebb’s ex-wife, Brenda Williams, the poetry is both emotive and plaintive, and of a high calibre. Many of the verses are concerned with the deaths of two friends which are directly attributed to the withdrawal of services. Whatever your opinion of day centres and their role in social exclusion, this poetry gives us a clear reminder that, for some people, day centres are a lifeline.

Policymakers would do well to read this collection.

Kay Sheldon is a mental health service user

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