Elderly ask ‘Babergh why don’t you care?’

Michael and Josephine Dawson are worried about proposals by Babergh District Council to end their sheltered Housing scheme ANL-160815-203844009

Michael and Josephine Dawson are worried about proposals by Babergh District Council to end their sheltered Housing scheme ANL-160815-203844009

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Sheltered housing tenants have spoken of their fears and frustration at a decision which could mean them having to move home or give up their sheltered tenancies.

Babergh is proposing to close half of its sheltered housing schemes, with residents who decide to stay on general tenancies losing their emergency pull chord alarm systems as well as the services of the site’s scheme manager, traditionally known as the warden.

Joined by their opposition to these plans, some of the residents of the sheltered housing in First Avenue, Sudbury, have spoken out against the proposal, driven by budget cuts.

Only a handful of residents actually responded to the council’s consultation asking residents what they thought of the idea, while even less attended meetings set up by Babergh.

But residents said this was because so many of the tenants are vulnerable and either unable to get to the meetings or unable to fully understand the proposals being put to them.

Residents are now considering writing to Sudbury town council to ask them to look into the matter and to South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

Most of the residents asked for anonymity, feeling threatened as many of them are vulnerable, suffering from health conditions and disabilities.

It is this vulnerability that they say is why it is so important the sheltered housing status is continued.

“I don’t know what it’s [the proposed changes] for, I’ve got no family to fall back on,” said one 85-year-old lady.

“I’m house bound. I won’t have anybody, the scheme manager is the only person I speak to some days.”

With little money and no family she said she would have to remain where she was under the new tenancy.

Some are refusing to move on after living in the same flats for decades, while other say they simply cannot afford to move.

Babergh have confirmed that there will be no provision for financial support for those that decide they want to move to another site where sheltered housing tenancies will be offered.

Another lady, 84, said: “I think it’s cut and dried anyway.

“In the past I’ve had the emergency services out. They think that just because we are getting older we don’t want anything.”

One 84-year-old, who is moving to be closer with her daughter said: “I never thought the council could do this. I asked Babergh ‘why don’t you care?’.”

She questioned the plans when the district’s population and elderly population is predicted to grow dramatically in coming decades.

Many residents were cynical that large amounts of work were being done to the flats, including new heating systems, just as new tenants were likely to come in.