September 1, 2010

UK: People will not be turned out of their homes but lone, elderly people are frail....

SHEFFIELD, England / The Star / Serving South Yorkshire / Letters / September 1, 2010


Firsthand Report
By Jenny,  Social Worker, SCC

I HAVE been a home help and social worker for many years. Labour's shouts that people will be turned out of their homes is not true. With a secure tenancy, which everyone in Sheffield has, this can't happen.

However, the lone elderly people living in a three- or two-bedroom family home may be asked (not forced) to relocate to a dwelling of their choice: a fair suggestion.

Illustrative photo courtesy Sheffield City Council

I enter these three-bedroom homes on a regular basis. Poor tenants can't keep them clean because of age or infirmity. I have seen bedrooms that a tenant has not entered for years because they cannot climb the stairs. I have seen filth, not because tenants want this, but because they can't do anything about it.

Home helps cannot tackle this major cleansing. Many of the elderly I meet are very proud and ask for nothing.

They feel their home is their roots, where they brought up families. Sometimes I cry when I leave these lonely old people. They have few or no visitors.

I have bought kettles, sugar and tea or they wouldn't be able to make a cuppa. I've thrown away green bread and milk and cleaned mouse droppings from work surfaces. This is not living, it is existing. I know many do manage and this is good. It is the many who cannot, but dare not grumble, that concern me and my colleagues.

The vacant family homes I see are mainly given to ethnic families who, I am told, get priority because of their many children. We try to insist on cleanliness, but very soon they are unkempt. Sometimes, the mother of six to eight children speaks no English. She is isolated and won't ask for help. Then I come across families who have waited years for a family home, but are unlikely to get one.

The allocation of social housing in Sheffield is appalling and very unfair. Some, not all, housing officers are very unhelpful to the plight of what I have mentioned.

I retire this year. I thought before I did I would see improvements.

Sadly, after 13 years of a government that didn't care, it's too far gone for this new government to change overnight.

Jenny, Social Worker, SCC

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