Q&A: My Crouch End

Mary Langan with her younger son James.

Mary Langan with her younger son James. - Credit: Archant

Campaigner and university academic Mary Langan has lived in Crouch End for 20 years. She is founder member of Save Autism Services Haringey (SASH).

What brought you to Crouch End?

It suited all the family. I needed to commute to the Open University at Milton Keynes where I was Associate Dean. My husband could cycle to his GP surgery in Stoke Newington. Our older son Michael could walk to the wonderful St Gildas School and our younger son James, who has autism and learning disabilities, went to the nursery at Stonecroft and later by bus to the National Autistic Society school at Radlett.

What makes Crouch End unique?

It has a reputation for celebrities and hipsters, but it is the ordinary people from all over the world who make it special. Having a child with special needs makes you particularly appreciative of an area in which people are tolerant and accepting of behaviour which is eccentric, even challenging, and of places, like the cafes in Finsbury Park and Priory Park which are sympathetic and welcoming. The Crouch End festival and the campaign to save the Town Hall reflect the vibrancy and spirit of the area.

You have a day off to spend in Crouch End. What do you do?

On a Thursday I would go for the excellent coffee and cake at the Carers Group in Abide Church on Park Road. On a Saturday I would drop in to the Seeds group for adults with special needs at St Peter in Chains School. On any day, in any weather, I would take a stroll up the Parkland Walk or go for a swim at Park Road. In the evening I would meet up with friends for tapas at La Fabrica or perhaps take in a film at the ArtHouse or a play at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.

Most Read

If you were editor of the Ham&High what issues would you focus on?

I would devote a special issue to give a voice to people from vulnerable groups and their families. In Haringey, frail elderly people with dementia, people with autism and learning disabilities and other complex needs have borne the burden of drastic cuts in the adult social care budget. Newspaper readers have heard the official excuses, but the stories of the families and carers who are suffering the consequences of closures of care homes and day centres need to be heard.

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve met?

My mother and my mother-in-law, both Irish immigrants who came to Britain in the 1940s with nothing but their natural talents and their willingness to work. They worked hard, raised large families and, like many still coming to Crouch End from overseas, they made a lasting contribution to British society.

What are your plans for the week?

I’m meeting Gordon Peters Chair of the Haringey Older Peoples Reference Group to discuss the campaign to save the Osborne Grove Nursing Home in Tollington Park from closure. I am also working on a Save Autism Services Haringey briefing paper for candidates in the local elections on 3 May We will be inviting representatives of the different parties to a hustings. I will be working in a focus group for the Royal College of Psychiatrists on mental health problems of adults with learning disabilities. I’m also supporting my son who is planning to run the London Marathon to raise funds for the National Autistic Society, but seems to have injured his knee.