'I'll barricade myself in' - Abbeyfield residents' anger at sheltered housing closure

  • Residents have told ITV News West Country they will refuse to leave their homes.

Residents of a sheltered housing complex in Wellington have told ITV News they are prepared to barricade themselves inside after plans were announced to close it.

Care provider Abbeyfield has announced it will shut both Ivy House and the Old Vicarage 'as soon as practically possible' with residents having to find other places to live.

Earlier this week Abbeyfield told residents it can't maintain the properties as financially sustainable services. But the people who live here say they have been treated appallingly and they're vowing to stay where they are.Mary Burke, one of the residents, said: "Being pensioners they think that because we are old we are stupid but we are not. We have all got minds that work.

"Our bodies might not but the minds do so we know exactly what we are doing. I'm not moving. They can't make me go.

"I think it's shabby. It's as if we are nothing, we're non-entities but we are not. We are human beings who have got a voice and we are going to be heard."Janet Hazlewood said: "Why should I? Why should I go? I will, I'll barricade myself in and the people at the church I go to, they say we will bring you food and we will bring you this and that.

"It's quite funny but that is what I tell everybody. I will barricade myself in if necessary."

People living in the complex met with ITV News' Bob Cruwys Credit: ITV News West Country

Jacqueline Green said: "We've got to do it haven't we? We can't just one give in. We've all got to fight it, even Ivy House. We mustn't give in.

"My mental health is now done. I've had panic attacks a couple of nights and I've now gone on antidepressants again, which I didn't really want to do.

Joy Randle added: "To be unprepared... it was just like having the mat pulled away from under your feet. It was quite shocking."

Jeremy McCluskey said his mother Mavis was a resident at the Old Vicarage. She is about to turn 98 and has dementia. He fears a move now could end her life prematurely.He said: "Because of her mental state, it's all washing over her a bit and she keeps having to be reminded, hour after hour, that she is going to have to move, which is extremely cruel."

Seb Choudhury and Alex Lovell speak to the CEO of Abbeyfield, Paul Tennant

When asked about the residents' concerns, CEO of Abbeyfield, Paul Tennant said: "I’m disappointed people feel that way because that’s absolutely the last thing we want them to feel.

"What we’ve tried to do since we started this process is to set out quite clearly, the actions that we intended to take.

"Go back to May last year when we announced the fact we were going into consultation, we have consulted with people widely, we’ve met with stakeholders, we’ve tried to keep people briefed all the way along and when we had the conversations earlier this week we were trying to explain the people the end of that process.

"At one point, we had hoped to find a future for both homes, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that. We have tried to keep people briefed.

"I do apologise for the situation but equally what we’ve tried to do is set out what the situation was over the last 10 months.

"We want to make sure there’s no misunderstanding over any of the comments and statements that were made."

Mr Tennant said the properties would most likely be sold but said Abbeyfield would never evict people.

He added: "None of this is done lightly. We’ve been talking to residents right across the country through exactly the same process to make them aware of the situation if and when we’ve had to move to a closure. We have tried to keep people briefed through the whole process.

"People have tenancies, and we respect that tenancy. This situation is unfortunate because of the circumstances we’re dealing with.

"Our view always, despite concerns and views, is that the residents are at the heart of what we do.

"We’re trying everything we can, to address a difficult situation for our residents."

Somerset Council said they will work closely with Abbeyfield to ensure a smooth and respectful transition for everyone involved.

A spokesperson said: "We understand that this must have been a very difficult decision, but we are concerned about the impact these closures will have on residents, their families, and staff at both homes.

"Supporting affected residents to find alternative accommodation that meets their needs and preferences is our top priority."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…