Sheltered Stories

Alice, Atherfield House - Sheltered Housing

Alice moved from her home in South Wales to Atherfield near Reigate in Surrey.

When Alice moved she left behind a 3 bedroom house and fifty years worth of furniture and belongings. What mattered to her though weren't her material possessions but her son, daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter who all lived in Surrey. The physical distance between Wales and Surrey had meant visits seemed to finish before they had begun and the gaps between their weekends together felt enormous.

The only solution for Alice was to make the move to Surrey. This was a big upheaval and Alice still misses Wales from time to time. However, her family are now just 8 minutes drive away and she sees them most weekends. She also goes out with her daughter-in-law on Tuesday afternoons to local garden centres and coffee shops.

Alice enjoys a life in Reigate which is active and sociable. When she moved in she made a very good friend soon after her arrival which made all the difference. Her neighbours, she says, are friendly but give her the option to be as ‘private’ or sociable as she wants.

Alice joined the coffee morning club not long after she moved in, which is not really a 'club', but simply the chance to have coffee with other residents in the lounge. She plays bingo with her friends and visitors, pops into Reigate to visit the shops and is a big advocate of the local community centre in Woodhatch where you can do everything from bingo to dancing!

She loves her flat which has big windows keeping it light and bright. Everything works and it’s comfortable and homely. The convenience and confidence of having Sheltered Housing Officer Lorna on hand is also a bonus.

Nieces, grandchildren and friends of grandchildren fill Alice’s life with chatter and laughter. She is like a surrogate grandma to all her grandchildren’s friends who all compare her flat to a 5-star hotel!


Olive Coppin, Portland House - Sheltered Housing

86 year old Olive has lived in Portland House for six years – by her own admission she has been a resident for a comparatively short time.

Olive has lived in Merstham for many years. She retired from work in 1984 and although she lived alone she spent many happy years surrounded by friends and neighbours who all lived close by. But as time went on the many people she knew either moved away or in some cases sadly died. Olive grew increasingly lonely and isolated. She found herself living among new, younger neighbours who she didn’t know and who caused problems.

This was a situation she put up with for some ten years, with much of that time spent unhappy and nervous. It was only when her doctor became concerned for both her health and her safety that she knew she had to move. She was delighted to get a flat in Portland House, which she had visited frequently since her retirement doing odd jobs and helping the elderly people who lived there – many of whom were in fact younger than her!

Being around good friends and spending time with people is what Olive loves. Being a resident of Portland House gives Olive the contact and companionship she needs. She is an incredibly active resident who organises activities and takes part in as many as she can fit in. She has many friends and holds weekly coffee mornings for fellow residents. She also takes ‘chair exercise’ classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings and spends an hour most evenings in the summer watering the garden.

Since January Olive has played an integral part in the Route 4 project which has been set up to help pupils from The Warwick School in Redhill on the verge of exclusion. All these pupils are experiencing problems at school of one sort or another. Olive spends time every week with a number of girls, sometimes teaching them to knit, sometimes chatting and sometimes just listening. As time has gone on the girls have grown to see Olive as a friend and confidante. Olive also does regular talks to the boys of Oakley School about the war and what it was like to live through it.

Olive is an incredibly positive person and clearly loves what she calls her ‘penthouse’ in Portland House. Her only frustration is that she wishes more residents would take part in things and used the facilities more!