Vulnerable couple’s fears over proposals to axe half of Babergh’s sheltered homes

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

He is terminally ill, is the primary carer for his disabled wife, and is now having to deal with the prospect of moving from their sheltered flat they secured only nine months ago.

Michael Dawson, as well as other residents of sheltered housing in the area, are trying to digest proposals from Babergh District Council which would see half of its 18 schemes no longer having sheltered housing status.

Mr Dawson, who lives at the First Avenue sheltered housing scheme in Sudbury, one of the ones proposed for closure, said the council’s consultation with residents on the proposals does not take into account the fact that many residents are highly vulnerable, confused, and unable to digest the complex ramifications of the potential changes.

“People who are affected haven’t got the strength to even contemplate fighting it,” said Mr Dawson.

People who want to stay in their homes after it is no longer classified as sheltered, can, but they would no longer be supervised by a warden or have the 24-hour pull cord alarm system. But Babergh said a pendant alarm system could still be provided, and residents would be assigned a point of contact to help them get additional help in the ‘transition period’.

But Mr Dawson said he and his wife need the support of a sheltered home, which from April 2017, would be called a Supported Living Scheme, and would still have the 24-hour alarm system, and an officer who would be responsible for two sites. Traditionally sheltered housing schemes had a live-in warden, and although some of those still exist in Babergh they were already being gradually phased out.

Mr Dawson said Babergh should have told them their home might lose its sheltered status before they moved in. Mr Dawson said: “We believed this was going to be our forever home. No one told us it was going to be a short term tenancy.

“Where are they going to put us all? Some have no family, the nearest thing many of the people have is their neighbours. They are going to be cast aside. My wife is saying: “I want to stay here”. I have had to say to my wife that the only choice we have got is that we will have to move.”

Mr Dawson said he has paid out £1,750 on improving the home, including new carpets aimed at minimising his wife’s falls. That investment is now at risk.

Babergh states it makes clear all tenancies are open to review at any point.

Alan Ferguson, Babergh District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “Babergh is really aware the needs and demands of our sheltered housing residents are changing. Our aim, and one of our main priorities, is to ensure the right type of homes, in the right locations, and with the right level of support so that our residents can stay independent and in their own homes for longer.

“As a result of this, we have been conducting a sheltered housing review that will see all of these needs and demands taken into account and in its place a service that offers the best for our residents and is also efficient and making best use of our resources and finances.

“We are still very much in a consultation period and listening mode.” Babergh said it has been offering face-to-face consultations, with transport offered, in schemes across the district to assist vulnerable people.

Schemes that would no longer be classed as sheltered housing from April 2017

 Angel Street, Hadleigh

 Ash Street, Boxford

 Bradfield Avenue, Hadleigh

 First Avenue, Sudbury

 Grimwood Corner, Sudbury

 Hill House, Bildeston

 Inkerman Terrace, Hadleigh

 Spring Street / Lane, Lavenham

 Tayler Close, Hadleigh

Schemes that would be retained from April 2017

Clover Court, Great Cornard

 Elizabeth Court, Sudbury

 Gayford Court, Hadleigh

 Newell Court, Hadleigh

 Parkers Way, Nayland

 Playford Court, Sudbury

 Samford Close, Holbrook

 Steeds Meadow, Long Melford

 Tenterpiece, Lavenham

For more on the proposals, visit www.babergh.gov.uk/housing-and-homelessness/sheltered-housing-and-other-support/types-of-housing-and-support/sheltered-housing/

To comment eMAIL: sheltered housingre view@baberghmid suffolk.gov.uk

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