The Campaign Starts

I will never forget when I first heard when the general (and local) election campaign in 2010 had officially stated – I was in the residents’ lounge meeting people living at Wentworth House, a sheltered housing block on Charlton Road, with Nick Raynsford, Pat Boadu-Darko and David Gardner.

We were not sure that Gordon Brown had gone to the palace until a tenant there told us when we were visiting on the morning of Tuesday April 6th. Nick was introducing himself and was unsure whether or not to say the election campaign had started, until we were told that the TV had just announced that it had.

I have never been a fan of glitzy campaign launches, so I was pleased that the opening hours of the campaign here were spent by us in Blackheath Westcombe ward, visiting senior citizens in the sheltered blocks with not a camera crew or flashbulb in sight.

We started off by visiting Langton Way and Wentworth House, the two council-run sheltered blocks in the ward, and then the BUPA block on Westcombe Park Road. It is good to see a permanent manager in place at Wentworth House (Wentworth is in fact one of my middle names – I have never worked out where the Wentworth name of the local block comes from, and whether it is form the same source as mine!). At Langton Way, tenants have been concerned for some time about the poor state of the windows and kitchens, so it is good to hear that work to replace them will start in the next few weeks.

At the BUPA Home, we met with a number of residents, including a very sprightly 99-year-old and another lady whose son, a teacher, had just retired. We are now in the age of double retirees- parents and children who are both retired. Many residents we met in their eighties or nineties are now still very fit and active, and want to live as independently as possible in sheltered blocks like these, not be consigned to homes. It was humbling to see the pride they had in the area they live, their interest in local issues and the fresh ideas they had on who to improve things.

They all seemed pleased to meet us, regardless of their voting intention, and it was great that e spent the time meeting real people and dealing with their concerns, not in a media bubble.

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