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Monday, 8 November 2010

Senior Citizens in fight for dignity

There are three things close to Hornets heart, and the first of those is helping people who need support. One such organisation "The Sheppard Trust" does exactly that in Hornets back yard in W11.

The Trust was set up back in 1855, when some of our councillors were first elected to council, to provide low cost accommodation for elderly ladies on fixed incomes. Nowadays society has moved on somewhat, but the needs and demands of the clientèle for this society hasn't decreased.

In years gone by the society has rented or bought properties around west London and has done a fantastic job in providing elderly ladies a home, enabling them to live independent lives safe in the knowledge that if they need it there is a support network of professionals ready to assist. Whether that is in changing a lightbulb, giving advice on benefits, or just someone to talk to. Crucially there is someone there who will watch for signs of ill health and the onset of any other health issues that these ladies would otherwise have to deal with alone.

What better society is there that has organisations like this that exist to care for our old folk? The ones who have lived through world wars, worked all their lives, and given so much in their time. We, the next generations owe them a debt we can never repay.

But then Hornet noticed a planning application to turn its 29 flats in six buildings in  Landsdowne Walk W11 into new family units. The problem is, these 29 flats have tenants living in them so will be turfed out when the properties are sold off, leased or otherwise disposed of to a developer.

Now Hornet doesnt for one minute expect this charitable firm to show no charity and dump the former residents onto the street. What will probably happen is the sizeable income from disposing of its current properties will be ploughed back into purchasing new properties to re-house their tenants.

But thats the problem.

Elderly folk by and large, especially those in "sheltered accommodation" like routine, they are safe in a familiar environment and are assured of a support network of friends, some of many years living close by. They know their area, patronise the same shops, and are fearful of change.

It may well be the new accommodation units not yet built, in a part of London not yet announced, will be state of the art, have all mod cons, complete with marble bathrooms with gold taps.

But its not home.

Our elderly folk shouldnt be bullied into accepting what could a fait accompli, the Society has the right to explore its options and decide on its course of action, but it must do so with the blessing of those it exists to care for.

Otherwise what is it there for?

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