“I think they’re neglecting their duties to us, they’re just happy with the rent and the building, they’re not bothered about the people in it, that’s the way it seems.”
Elderly residents of a housing group say they are forced to protest outside their home which they no longer feel safe to live in anymore.
After a recent string of drug and alcohol related issues and a robbery where one resident was taken to hospital, the men and women who live in the sheltered accommodation say they’re “fed up” of not feeling safe in their own homes. 60-year-old John Fraser set up a housing committee where he and his fellow residents can discuss any issues.
Since the incident involving a robbery where a 80-year-old veteran resident, Anthony Howarth, had his watch, phone, wallet and bank card stolen, John says nothing has been done to mitigate their fears. Speaking to LancsLive on May 10, John revealed his own fears and concerns for his neighbours who he cares and looks out for.
New Brook House offers self-contained apartments available to let for over 55s. The housing scheme is designed to provide assisted living accommodation for retired men and women and is run by Your Housing Group who John says, aren’t “keeping up to the their responsibilities” to help these residents feel safe again.
“We’ve been told it takes time to get undesirables out of the building. There’s been no crime since the incident but on Monday, our manager resigned,” John said.
“There’s vulnerable people that live here – there’s a surveyor here in the building at the moment, walking around but nobody’s here to check his ID. I checked his ID but I shouldn’t have to, there should be somebody here doing it, somebody from Your Housing Group should face up to the responsibilities.
“We’re not having a go at Your Housing, they’re just not keeping up to their responsibilities that they should be doing. I got a phone call last Thursday from the area manager to tell me it takes time, there’s not a lot he can do and he will call me once a month for the progress. In the meantime we’re just meant to live in fear.”
For the past 11 days, John and his fellow residents have set up a gazebo to protest. Despite the harsh weather conditions, they each take turns to sit with blankets, hot water bottles and gloves, peacefully protesting and telling their story to anyone who approaches them.
John says they feel they have to resort to doing this because they “just want to feel safe”.
“I’d rather all these people felt safe, I’d rather these undesirables be removed and feel safe in my own house and these other people feel safe. We’re pulling together, it’s not just me doing this, you can see them sat there, pulling together as group. One lady, she’s sat out there, yesterday she fell ill and I told her not to come out but she’s back out today so that just shows how she feels.
“We just want to feel safe but we’re told if we don’t like it, they can find us another place to live – but we don’t to move. If we didn’t want to be here we would have just packed our bags and moved on, we want to live here. The people that we put our trust in are not responding, I think they’re neglecting their duties to us, they’re just happy with the rent and the building, they’re not bothered about the people in it, that’s the way it seems.
“There should be somebody here, not just three times a week and saying sorry we can’t send a manager today so there’s nobody. It’s not minor.”
Speaking to LancsLive earlier in May, other residents told of the problems they faced in the home. Gary, who has lived in his flat for five years, said: “I’m not having this anymore, the stealing of things was really bad but now that it’s affecting an actual person’s wellbeing, it’s not going any further than this, we’re going to stop it. If it means we’re going to withhold our rent – something’s going to happen, we’re not having it anymore.
“We’re being violated by drug takers, drug dealers. It’s nearly all drug related, all the thefts, everything is to do with money and drugs. People do come into the building smoking crack.”
Outside, on the wet patch of grass, sheltering from the rain under a small gazebo sits Karen Johnston, Kerry Jasper and Anne. The three of them who have collectively lived in the home for more than a decade say they’re fed up of living in fear of the anti social behaviour that goes on.
Karen said: “We’re protesting, it’s still not got anything done but at the end of the day we’re supporting Anthony. We complained before, we always said it’s going to take something like this to happen for you to do anything and they’ve still not done anything.
“When we complain the first thing they say to us is ‘would you like a move?’ Well no we don’t want to move, we want to stay here where are neighbours are. It’s wrong that we should have to do this, we should be sat inside with hot water bottles, not here.
“We’ve had no manager for four days now so even if we wanted to complain there’s no one to complain to anyway.” Kerry added: “At one point you could come out here at 10 o’clock in the night to put your rubbish out and you’d feel safe, now you don’t. I moved from my two bed apartment to here and it’s my home, but I don’t feel safe now.
“We’re out here protesting because we want some answers, we want to know what they’re going to do about the problems. I’m very angry, if my benefits didn’t pay direct here, I would stop my rent. It’s just wrong and we’re not treated properly at all, there’s no respect for us at all.
“All we get is ‘have you rung the police’, ‘have you kept a diary’, ‘have you got a date and time about that’, we can’t keep doing that all the time, it’s just infuriating.”
John asks that anyone walking by the protesters show their support by providing blankets and provisions to help keep the residents going.
Jacque Allen, deputy chief executive of Your Housing Group: “Your Housing Group can confirm that we have received a complaint from a resident and have discussed his concerns. We are investigating his allegations thoroughly and will be keeping our resident, the council and the appropriate authorities updated regarding our findings and actions.”