Thursday, 2 September 2010
Tea and strawberry cake at Kirkstone Lodge
I was very honoured last week to have been invited by the residents of Kirkstone Lodge, a sheltered housing unit on Isleworth's Ivybridge estate, to a tea party organised by the occupants of the unit and supported by Hounslow Homes and the staff at the unit.
When I was Lead Member for Housing I was forever concerned about the future of dwellings such as this one. The threat of reductions in funding always loomed, and there was a constant feeling that the units were being "phased out". Many feel that the communal WCs and other throwbacks to a bygone age render the dwellings obsolete, and unattractive to potential tenants.
The mistake that is often made though is to confuse sheltered housing with care housing and to consider the occupants to be housebound and in need of permanent care. One resident of Kirkstone Lodge laughed as she related to me how somebody had asked her "Do they let you out at night?"
The tenants at Kirkstone Lodge are assertive, intelligent and well-organised. A couple of years ago I guided several of them as they won a Stage Three complaint against Hounslow Homes which was heard before a Members' Panel. The complainants felt they had not been taken seriously enough when they had objected to certain aspects of the regime under which they were living, and following an articulate presentation by one of their number the Panel agreed.
I enjoyed my afternoon with these residents thoroughly, and the tea and strawberry cake which they insisted I drank and ate in some quantity.
Another strong community in the tradition that Isleworth has developed over recent years.