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Archive for May, 2009

Protest against sheltered housing warden cuts, 19 May, Hendon Town Hall

Protest against sheltered housing warden cuts, 19 May, Hendon Town Hall

Here are a couple of pictures of the lively lobby of the annual council meeting on Tuesday 19 May. More than 60 residents and supporters protested against proposed sheltered housing warden cuts; six residents presented a petition with 1,600 signatures to the outgoing mayor John Marshall, who promised to look again at the proposals and discuss them with his fellow Conservative councillors.

The decision on the proposal will be announced at the Cabinet meeting on Monday 8 June. We are organising a lobby from 6pm. The venue is likely to be Barnet House in Whetstone. If anyone would like to put  a question to the Cabinet there is provision for this in the agenda. You need to email your question before 10am on Wednesday 27 May to david.seabrooke@barnet.gov.uk [we undersatnd Mr Seabrooke is no longer working for the council. Send emails to nick.musgrove@barnet.gov.uk]. For more details of the lobby please email wardens@barnettuc.org.uk.

You can read press coverage of the 19 May protest at Hendon Times and Barnet Press. The Barnet Press editorial comment came out against the proposed cuts.

Kingsley Court residents protest against proposed sheltered housing warden cuts

Kingsley Court residents protest against proposed sheltered housing warden cuts

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Next date in the campaign: Tuesday 19 May, 6pm onward, Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4BG

Lobby Barnet council annual meeting against sheltered housing warden cuts.

Sheltered housing campaigners will also hand in a petition to the new mayor, Brian Coleman.

For more details email: wardens@barnettuc.org.uk

Also: Monday 8 June, 6pm onward, venue to be announced. Lobby the council cabinet meeting that will take the decision on cuts to sheltered housing wardens and the Welfare Rights Unit.

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Barnet needs wardens march, Saturday 9 May. Assemble from 11.30am outside Finchley Central tube for a short march to Victoria Park, Ballards Lane.

We received the following message of support from Dot Gibson, General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention:

I am very sorry that I am unable to be with you today. The National Pensioners Convention is deeply concerned at the cuts in services to older people and we fully support your campaign.

There are approximately 25,000 sheltered schemes in the UK. I live in one myself. The importance of them is that they give pensioners the chance to live in their own home, but at the same time to have the security of a resident warden who knows them personally and keeps a check on their health and safety on a daily basis. 

Sheltered schemes are communities with friendship, care and a social life led by wardens who, if necessary, will cook meals, ensure medication and make sure that the residents keep their doctors’ appointments and are cared for when they are discharged from hospital. But now this is changing. . .

All over the country resident warden services are being undermined. The heart is going out of the sheltered scheme communities. There is the system of so-called “floating support” where a warden is responsible for a number of schemes and can no longer give personal attention to any of the residents.  

In many places the so-called “care” is one telephone call a month. In at least one place the service has been downgraded to the point where the tenants are required to pull their emergency cord once a month so that the landlord can check that it is still working! The problem is building up to a full-blown explosion! There is the case of a couple in Birmingham who lay dead for nine days in the heat of the summer before their bodies were found.

Without the warden services, many elderly people are forced to apply to their local authority for the home social care visits. What on earth is the sense of denying them a warden, only to find that they are forced to seek help elsewhere!

Yvonne Hossack is a solicitor-advocate who is dealing with over 1,000 cases of sheltered scheme residents. A current case she is taking to court has had government funding withdrawn for the hearing and so she is proceeding at great personal and professional risk. If the case falls, in the absence of Legal Aid, it is likely that a costs order will be made against her personally and she may lose her home to pay it.

It is a scandal that those who stand up for frail elderly people, calling for simple basic human and democratic rights to dignity in old age, should be under such a threat.

Your campaign here in Barnet is crucial and I hope that you will be able to link up with others throughout the country. Certainly these matters are at the heart of the National Pensioners Convention and of the Pensioners’ Parliament which will take place in Blackpool from 2nd to 4th June.

More messages of support:

  • ALL 28 OF US IN SHELTERED HOUSING GIVE YOU OUR FULL SUPPORT – Barbara, Basildon, Essex
  • You have the full support of our 50-odd  residents. Unfortunately they are all cracking on a lot and cannot travel. We hope you have a terrific turn out for your march. – David Smith
  • Unable to join your march today but good luck in your fight. If only more coverage – national coverage that is – were given to our all but vain attempt to get the status of Sheltered Housing to be either restored or at least seriously considered prior to positive action. I have become involved in a very small attempt to present the case of some residents in a Bristol City Council housing estate which had had Sheltered status until 03 – the loss of resident wardens is still raw and how their lives has become so much less. Letters in support to Baroness Andrews were sent in the past few weeks Good luck from all of us here. – Stephanie

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