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‘We can’t have a cuppa together’ - Dismay as communal area of sheltered housing site out of bounds

PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:07 25 August 2020

Residents of St James House in Norwich are disappointed that a communal area of the development is still out of use after lockdown. Pictured, Michael Fulcher and Doreen Smith Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Residents of St James House in Norwich are disappointed that a communal area of the development is still out of use after lockdown. Pictured, Michael Fulcher and Doreen Smith Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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Vulnerable residents of a sheltered housing block in the city say they have been left isolated after being told their communal area is still out of bounds following lockdown.

Residents of St James House in Norwich are upset their communal area is still out of use after lockdown Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANResidents of St James House in Norwich are upset their communal area is still out of use after lockdown Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

St James House is a block of 34 sheltered housing properties off Barrack Street in Norwich which provides for people over the age of 60, opened in 2016 and is run by Norwich City Council.

Alongside its individual flats, the block has a communal area where people living there enjoy fortnightly bingo, coffee mornings and the occasional natter over a portion of fish and chips.

During the lockdown, these areas were taken out of action, along with the building’s library, but now pubs and restaurants are back open, residents feel they should be allowed to return.

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Doreen Smith, who lives in one of the flats, said: “We were all very good during the lockdown and stayed out, but to me, it seems silly that we are able to go to a restaurant or a pub but in our own living space we can’t have a cuppa together - we’re all more or less in a bubble anyway.

“We are all over 60 and some of us are in our 80s and the last thing we want is to have to spend our whole time looking at the same four walls all the time.”

Gail Harris, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The health and wellbeing of residents in our sheltered housing schemes is our primary concern, and we have worked hard during lockdown to keep everyone as safe as possible, including making regular calls to residents to ensure they have the support they need.

“We’d love to be in a situation where we can open up the communal areas in our sheltered housing schemes, but the fact remains – coronavirus is still with us and these shared spaces present a big risk of transmitting infection.

“This is an understandably frustrating situation, but we will continue to put the health of residents first and keep communal areas closed until we feel the risk can safely be managed.

“We have communicated throughout with residents to keep them informed and thank everyone for their patience and understanding in following the guidelines which are only in place for their benefit.”


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