Published: Monday, 4th September 2017
The value of supported housing was highlighted when Dartford MP Gareth Johnson visited Wellfield Community Hall in Hartley to mark Starts at Home day on 1 September.
The MP was the guest of West Kent Housing Association, which is responsible for the sheltered scheme at Wellfield, and Sevenoaks District Council, which has restated its commitment to sheltered housing in its latest housing strategy.
The council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health, Michelle Lowe, said schemes like Wellfield were “key to preventing hospital admissions and homelessness as well as enabling people to live better quality, independent lives. Supported housing for older people is also on the front line of combating homelessness both for its own residents and sometimes for older people that live nearby.”
The event was held at Wellfield Community Hall, a volunteer-run facility that is well used by the local over-55s who live in the 24 flats and nine bungalows that make up the Emerald scheme run by West Kent.
West Kent has built 244 new supported housing units across Kent in the past year. While most of these were in Extra Care schemes for older people, the total included supported homes for people with learning disabilities.
“We are committed to delivering adaptable supported housing schemes that are flexible enough to support tenants with varying care needs,” West Kent Chief Executive Frank Czarnowski commented. “We aim to deliver supportive communities where people can retain their independence but with the reassurance that care is available when they need it.”
He also stressed the need for the government to share the commitment to supported housing, pointing out: “The government must put supported housing funding on a secure and sustainable footing to enable much needed schemes to go ahead.
“The government has guaranteed funding for supported housing until 2019, but there are doubts about what happens after that because of proposed welfare changes. New schemes that would provide much-needed supported homes are on hold in many areas of the country and will remain so until the uncertainty over the planned changes to funding is resolved.”
Cllr Larry Abraham, chairman of the council and the local ward member, paid tribute to Community Warden Jackie West and volunteers, led by resident Veronica Gannon, who have made the refurbished community hall at Wellfield such a vital part of the community. He described it as “a great example of what can be achieved with the right people.”
Veronica also spoke at the event, which was attended by a number of the residents who use the hall regularly for activities including a cares’ café, bingo, knitting and crochet club, a monthly lunch club and a weekly pop-in session.
Cllr Lowe pointed out: “Supported housing can cover a range of different groups. It can be for older people - such as this scheme; it can be for young people coming out of the care system and learning how to budget, cook and run a home; it can be for people with mental and/or physical disabilities or armed forces adjusting to civilian life - and yet even more different groups of people.”
She added: “West Kent runs a number of schemes in our District - most of which I would love to live in.”
The event at Wellfield also gave residents the opportunity to save money on their energy bills by talking to council staff about the Sevenoaks Switch and Save service.
For more information on supported housing, contact West Kent on 01732 749442 or Sevenoaks District Council on 01732 227000.