William Hague MP opens housing scheme

A new extra care scheme for older people in Richmond, North Yorkshire was officially opened last week by British Foreign Secretary and local MP, the Rt. Hon. William Hague.

Mr Hague was joined by residents and guests at Greyfriars, a £6.2 million development providing 39 two bedroom apartments in Lile Close. The apartments at Greyfriars are designed for independent living with an on-site team providing 24 hour care and support.

Commenting on the scheme, Mr Hague said:
“I congratulate all involved on bringing about the transformation into Greyfriars. Extra care is, of course, the way to go. It enables people to be able to combine having their own place, and the independence that brings, with also being able to be close to their neighbours and to whatever assistance they require.”

Many of the new residents have lived locally for many years, including 80 year old Margaret Rutcroft, who was a driving instructor in Richmond for more than 30 years. Margaret moved into Greyfriars in September from a cold and damp cottage. “I was starting to wonder what would happen if I was taken ill,” she says, “Here, if you have a fall or an accident you can press a button and they will come to you. You are being looked after, but you still have your independence. You still have your own front door and it is your own little home.”

The scheme, which provides opportunities to rent or purchase on a shared ownership basis, was developed through a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council, Housing 21, Richmondshire District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and builders Frank Haslam Milan North East.

Representatives of the project partners showed Mr Hague the impressive on-site facilities. These include a restaurant, hairdressing salon, assisted bathroom, sensory room, guest suite and community resource room offering services for learning disabled adults. The restaurant, known as The Franciscan, is operated by social enterprise, the Avalon Group, and has created a number of local job opportunities.

One of the regular users of the on-site facilities is resident, Sandra Bradshaw (aged 70) who lives at Greyfriars with her 78 year old husband. She said: “We are pleased we have made this move for the future. We are happy here. It’s the best thing we have done.”

Extra care has proved an innovative and highly successful solution in North Yorkshire to supporting the needs of older people while enabling them to live in a home of their own. Extra care also enables couples to stay together and have their families to stay. Indeed for some who have moved from residential care homes, extra care has marked an improvement in their independent living skills.

Victoria Barclay, regional director for Housing 21 said: “We’re absolutely delighted that William Hague was able to join residents and staff in the official opening of Greyfriars. We’re very proud of this thriving scheme, which has been built to very high standards. It brings tremendous benefits to the people of Richmond, offering a variety of services to residents and the wider local community.”

To date the county council has invested £12.6 million in 15 Extra Care schemes from Scarborough to Stokesley, Ripon and Bainbridge down to Selby with four more in the process of development.

County councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Health and Adult Services said: “This is a wonderful moment for the Greyfriars’ community - the culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of staff and partners who are dedicated to extra care and all the benefits it provides for older people.  What we are doing at Greyfriars  – and indeed across North Yorkshire – is cited by government, care agencies, and the voluntary sector as the way we should all be progressing in the field of social care.  When people need to be cared for, that care should be provided for them in homes of their own, so that they can lead independent lives as far as possible in their local community.”

Richmondshire District Council Spokesperson for Housing, Councillor Peter Wood added: “Greyfriars represents another milestone in the Council’s delivery of excellent quality, affordable housing in the district. It has shown, again, how close working between the key partners and the support of local communities is essential in delivering good quality housing.

“We should also say a special thank you to the previous residents of Lile Close, without whose agreement and support this housing development would not have been possible.”

Steve McCoy, Managing Director of FHM North East, said: “The housing needs of older people are changing and this innovative scheme reflects those changes.

“Greyfriars offers a real alternative to traditional approaches, providing independent, safe and secure housing with the extra facilities and activities that the new generation of older tenants are looking for.

“We are delighted to have been involved in this project and wish all the residents well in their new homes.”

David Curtis. Executive Director at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “It is great to be here to-day to see what our partners have achieved - these apartments are a great place for local people to live. Our investment of £2m has meant that elderly people have been provided with an excellent choice of homes that will meet their needs.

“ The quality of design, not just in the individual apartments but also in the shared areas is amazing and has meant that a new facility is being provided that is not only ideal for the residents but also is  in keeping with the architecture of this historic town.”