Residents at Herbert Harvey Court Join ACORN Campaign to Reverse Full-Time Warden Cuts

By Jamie Hill - 30 April 2021

Community

On Sunday 25 April, residents at Herbert Harvey Court, a local sheltered housing scheme gathered to join the ACORN campaign to reverse recent cuts to full-time warden provision in council run sheltered housing across Swindon.

The move follows the recent launch of the campaign with a similar action at Charles MacPherson Gardens.

Swindon ACORN have been flooded with messages from sheltered housing residents across Swindon, and expect to be bringing more schemes into the campaign soon.

A majority of residents at Herbert Harvey Court recently completed a Swindon ACORN survey (results attached), demonstrating that 86% of residents are worried about the change, with 95% believing the reduction in warden hours is a bad idea and needs to be reversed.

In what is becoming a common theme in conversations with local sheltered housing residents, 70% believed the council consultation did not take their views seriously, whilst only 33% were even aware that the consultation had happened.

Jon Timbrell from Swindon ACORN said: ‘We are really pleased to have spread our campaign to another sheltered housing scheme, and we expect this movement to keep growing.

What we are seeing is a widely and deeply felt anger amongst sheltered housing residents and a conviction that cuts to warden provision are unpopular, dangerous and imposed on residents despite their repeated and clear rejection of the proposals. 

Whilst the council have responded only with patronising platitudes, we are hearing from people who are not simply fearing what might happen, but have already been left in dangerous and unacceptable situations. In the scant time this failed cash-saving exercise has been in existence we have been contacted about incidents ranging from unanswered medical emergencies to flooded flats and serious security risks.

The council say these cuts shouldn’t affect residents, but we are hearing a very different story from the tenants themselves, and it’s time the council did the right thing, listened to their tenants, reverse these unpopular and dangerous cuts and reinstate a full-time warden in every local sheltered housing scheme.’

Herbert Harvey Court resident June Skeels said: ‘At a meeting a while ago, the council reported that because a warden in Wroughton had left a scheme, the warden from a nearby scheme would cover both. A member of TASH (Tenants Association for Sheltered Housing) asked if this was the start of reducing wardens and was reassured this wasn’t the case. Now the system means we are having to share wardens across schemes. Folks are concerned about this. They have more confidence knowing there is someone near to call if they have a problem or if they are ill.’

ACORN Swindon member Ed Colton said: ‘This campaign is growing.. Every day, we are meeting more and more angry sheltered housing residents wanting to join the campaign. ACORN is a community union with a proud history of organising our communities to win and this will be no different. We are uniting a broad movement across local sheltered housing committed to winning back the full-time wardens they need and deserve.

We hope the council choose to listen to the clearly articulated views and experiences of their tenants in sheltered housing, but until then, this campaign will keep spreading, growing and becoming too loud to ignore!

A few weeks back, we launched a pledge for councillors to support the campaign. We are really pleased that the pledge has been supported by councillors and candidates from local Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. We hope this is a sign that councillors are planning to unite across party lines to support sheltered housing residents.’ 

ACORN are asking anyone who wants to get involved with the campaign, especially sheltered housing residents and their friends and loved ones to get in touch at swindon@acorntheunion.org.uk or leave a message at 07440964701.

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