Sancturary purbeck

shocking way to treat elderly i would recommend they set up a charitable trust and run warden system themselves

 

No Sanctuary In Swanage For Elderly Residents

Elderly residents live in fear of losing their warden

Opposite Swanage Town Hall is the Burr Stone

Mead sheltered housing block (pictured). It is

home to twenty-six elderly residents. Many

have lived there as part of our community for more

than twenty years. But this year is off to a rocky start

for them. They fear for their health and safety as, like

many pensioners across the country, they face the

loss of their live-in warden, Linda.

At the end of January, Sanctuary Housing announced

that due to government funding cuts, each resident

would have to pay an extra £16.72 per week or live

without Linda. Sanctuary states the £16.72 figure is

‘a national average’ but according to local councillor

Robert Gould, the actual shortfall is as little as £4.58

and could be covered by local housing benefit, making

it possible for Sanctuary “to mitigate any reduction

in funding imposed by the council at no cost” to

residents. However, Sanctuary has rejected their

proposal.

Many Burr Stone Mead residents are also visited by

community carers, but they and their relatives fear the

prospect of losing round the clock support. Linda also plays a crucial role

liaising on their behalf with doctors and social workers and provides daily

support for those with impaired vision and other disabilities.

“We all came here because that is what we need,” one resident explained.

“We need that help. And what if one of us fell? There are no neighbours

to help us in an emergency.” Back in June, Ann Clwyd MP demanded an

investigation into sheltered housing safety standards after a 92-year-old

resident was trapped for hours on the ground floor of his flat having

fallen down the stairs. The accident occurred after warden cover was

cut in his building.

Now, pensioners across the country are being faced with this fear,

although emergency assistance from a familiar warden is the main reason

most pensioners enter sheltered housing in the first place. For this reason

Anne Ludlow, secretary of Sheltered Housing UK, has found changes to

be unlawful, adding that “the warden was the lynchpin in the community

life that gave the elderly residents a sense of security and belonging. With

that lynchpin removed, this vital national commodity has lost its identity

and its purpose.”

Richard Drax MP is “extremely sympathetic” to the residents’ cause. He

states that maintaining the warden, “if not a legal obligation, is certainly a

moral one.” Drax has promised to visit Sanctuary in person to advocate

for them and expressed concern about the psychological impact of

Sanctuary’s conduct.

The vast majority of tenants at Burr Stone Mead say would be willing to

pay the extra to keep Linda on. Some are even willing to cover the shortfall

left by those unable or unwilling to pay. But there is a twist: to keep

her, Sanctuary demanded 100 percent consensus from tenants. That’s a

stronger mandate than a government needs to declare war. Unsurprisingly,

it proved unachievable.

The ‘consultation period’ for Burr Stone Mead lasted just three weeks,

and residents complain no real consultation has taken place. They spoke

on condition of anonymity. “It’s wicked,” said one. “A disgraceful lack of

care. What sort of democracy is this?”

“Most of us are strongly opposed, and there’s nothing they can do?”

continued another. “That’s not consultation. And for all their talk of

‘customer choice’, it’s not that either!” The others shook their heads in
agreement. “It’s a PR stunt, the voting, the illusion of choice. It’s ‘choice’

for those who can afford it. We feel blackmailed.”

Sanctuary committed to providing Tenancy Support Officers to assess

individual needs, but nobody has yet seen or heard from them. One

resident reports being told “there are only 15 of them for the whole

country! So it would probably just be phone support… most of us can’t

even hear the phone!” She forced a smile.

“We felt like people before Sanctuary took over. Now we’re just numbers,”

said another. This is a common complaint against Britain’s biggest housing

associations, of which Sanctuary is the largest. There are entire support

groups on social media, made up of hundreds of complainants taking

action against Sanctuary, for everything from failure to make repairs to

toxic mould.

by Marienna

In a standard written statement, Sanctuary expressed regret that funding

cuts have created the need “to make some difficult choices,” but points

out that because Burr Stone Mead residents are classified as ‘independent’,

“the support our staff provide would not, and has never included any

element of care.”

Of course, government cuts are hitting services hard across the board.

But while residents tighten their belts, landlords – including housing

associations – have been posting record profits in Austerity Britain. In

2013, a costly merger made Sanctuary the largest ‘social landlord’ in the

UK. Although it qualifies as a non-profit group, Sanctuary turned over

a cool £72 million in 2013, tripling profits from previous years. Its chief

executive, David Bennett, takes home over £300,000 per year. Two-thirds

of that comes from taxpayers.

These mega-associations control more than a quarter of all rented

housing in the UK and retain billions in public funding, having acquired

much of their stock from local councils in the 1980s and 1990s in what

has been described as “the most successful stealth privatisation ever.”

Back in 2011, now Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell condemned their

lack of accountability and recalled how since the 1980s these specialist

social co-operatives had mutated into large corporations in all but name,

“indistinguishable from private landlords.”

Tim Burness, a housing campaigner who has spent years scrutinising

Sanctuary’s practices, adds that Cameron’s government “has done away

with what little regulation there was. Cutting back on wardens is a classic

example of what results.” And in a letter addressed to him and seen by

the Purbeck Gazette, Margaret Hodge, then Chair of the Public Accounts

Committee, confessed that there is no independent monitoring “of

social housing performance against, or in compliance with, the consumer

standards.”

Back at Burr Stone Mead, Linda’s wages have already been cut from full to

part time in recent years. “But she still goes above and beyond for us,” say

tenants. “That’s the sort of person she is. And we don’t want to lose her.”

This hasn’t stopped them speaking out, and so are sheltered housing

residents across the country. In Angus, pensioners have been protesting

on the steps of the town hall, forcing the local council to reiterate that no

decisions have been finalised and their views will be taken into account. In

Leek, residents are also raising their voices against Sanctuary’s ‘determined’

attempts to get rid of their wardens. According to 85 year old John Broun,

quoted in Leek Post and Times, Sanctuary kept the proposals secret for

two full years and, “knowing that this would be an unpopular decision,

tried to make it look as though it was the decision of the residents.”

When asked if they would move out of Burr Stone Mead because of the

changes, the ladies shook their heads. “We have nowhere else to go.” But

rather than resigning themselves to the loss, the residents are resolved
to defend their warden.
They have started a petition, are seeking legal advice and are far from alone
in what is in fact a national fight of grave concern to us all.
Sign the petition at: www.change.org/p/sanctuary-housing-save-the-
live-in-warden-at-burr-stone-mead