Friday, August 14, 2009

Save Our Homes!

Surrey County UNISON Branch are working with residents to save local care homes. Their slogan reminds me of the Tower Hamlets Housing Strike in 1999 which was "Save Our Services"!

This was the unanimous message from the 40 plus people who attended a public meeting on Wednesday 5th August at Molesey Football Club. The meeting was called by the Elmbridge Care Homes Campaign to defend The Summers and Langdown in Molesey and
Rodney House in Walton. Residents, their relatives, staff from the homes and members of the public gathered to hear about the campaign.

These three care homes are owned by the Kingston and Wimbledon YMCA, who have decided to sell them off. A previous attempt to sell them fell through earlier this year. The campaign has been told that a new buyer is now interested in the two Molesey homes but not Rodney House, which will have to be sold separately. Paul Couchman, Chair of the campaign and Branch Secretary of Surrey County UNISON (the trade union which represents workers at the three homes) said at the meeting:

“We know that this is an uphill struggle. We know that SCC has no intention of buying back the homes, but we have a duty to tell the truth and to campaign for what is right”. ” We are told that the homes have to go ‘on the market’. These are people’s homes, their lives – not pieces of meat or pairs of socks.” He also gave examples of how the private sector puts profits above care quality and how some private companies have slashed wages and terms and conditions of workers after they have been transferred from the public sector.

Sandra Ayliffe, UNISON Representative at The Summers gave a personal account of what life has been like for staff and residents during all the uncertainty about the future. Katie Foster-Holt, a resident at the Summers for many years heaped praise on the “care and dedication” of staff and told the meeting how worried she was about the future of her home. Surrey County Council still employ the staff in the homes but have not recruited any new staff for nearly two years – whittling down the service to the bare minimum in preparation for a sale, relying on agency staff to fill the gap. SCC have also stopped placing people in the homes, leading to the ridiculous situation where 20 beds are vacant at The Summers, costing the council 100,000 pounds every month.

The campaign has now organised a lobby of the Full Council to let our elected members know the community’s strength of feeling. These three homes have been living with a sword above their heads for the past two years while the Council continues to waste 1.2 million pounds a year for nothing in return - money which could be used to secure the long-term public future of these three homes.

Surrey County Council must buy these homes NOW!

Katie Foster-Holt and Sandra Ayliffe address the public meeting Sign the petition Signatures on our petition are needed now more than ever. Please make sure that you have signed it, and encourage your neighbours, friends, workmates, and everyone else you know to sign too!

Sign online - you can also download the paper version to print and sign Get a paper petition call 020 8541 9091 or email
Sign over the phone call 0203 355 9561 and leave your name, address and email.
(Calls are charged at standard network rates and should last no longer than 90 seconds)

Our homes!

Our say!

the summers • langdown • rodney house


Chris Leary said...

Thanks, John!

John Gray said...

My pleasure - Good luck and let us know what happens!