Pictured: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with representatives from Sycamore Hall, Housing 21 and North Yorkshire Council
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined residents and employees in celebrating 20 years of Extra Care in North Yorkshire by paying a special visit to Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge.
Mr Sunak left his home at 10 Downing Street in London to take a tour of the scheme, which is located in his MP constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire.
Mr Sunak said: “I know from my visits to Sycamore Hall over the years what a friendly and supportive environment it is. Enabling older people to maintain their independence while having all the help they might need to hand is reassuring for them and their families.
“The Extra Care concept has been a tremendous success since it was first rolled out in North Yorkshire 20 years ago. It is good news to hear that successful schemes like Sycamore Hall have been replicated elsewhere and that there are more Extra Care schemes in the pipeline.”
Upon arrival Mr Sunak was greeted by colleagues including Local Housing Manager Nicky Cooper, Managing Director of Extra Care Kris Peach, Head of Extra Care Ally Dewar, and Regional Extra Care Manager Catherine Hay, who showed him around the Extra Care scheme.
Mr Peach, who spoke about the benefits of Extra Care at the Extra Care Housing: Past, Present and Future conference hosted Housing LIN earlier this month, said: “Having the Prime Minister visiting one of Housing 21’s Extra Care schemes is not something I, the local team or the residents will ever forget. It’s not often residents get to share their tea and cake with the person in charge of the country, and from hearing some of the conversations, I know how much they enjoyed this and the opportunity to share their experiences of how important good housing and care has been in their lives.
“On speaking with Mr Sunak after spending time with residents, he was clearly impressed with the facilities on offer and shared his feedback from residents, which was very positive. I am sure that Mr Sunak will have gone away that evening knowing that good quality housing and care can have such a positive impact.
“Well done to Sycamore Hall for hosting such an important event. I feel even more proud to work for Housing 21 and the amazing people, services, and residents we have.”
In addition to the standard Extra Care amenities including a bistro, salon and communal facilities, Sycamore Hall has established itself as the hub of the local community, offering additional services including a village shop, library and Post Office.
During his tour, Mr Sunak was shown the amenities before joining residents for afternoon tea, where he spent time chatting with residents and employees, learning about their experiences and benefits of living in an Extra Care scheme, and answering any questions they had.
Resident Brenda, 88, who moved in two-and-a-half years ago, was among those given the honour of meeting Mr Sunak. She said: “It’s been brilliant; I settled quickly, I’m really happy and time has flown. Sycamore Hall is a very special place - I’ve got loads of friends and we’re like one big family who look after each other.
“After I had a fall, I came back from hospital and every single care worker was brilliant - thoroughly reliable, cheerful and encouraging and I’ve bounced back again. I feel very lucky to be here.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Extra Care programme launched in North Yorkshire in 2003, with Housing 21 managing 10 of the area’s 28 schemes.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “We know how important Extra Care developments have proved to be for communities across North Yorkshire in the past 20 years, and it was a privilege to be able to show the scheme in Bainbridge to Mr Sunak.
“This Extra Care development has provided a whole host of facilities not just for its residents, but also people living in the local communities. In fact, this particular scheme has been so successful that community facilities that would likely have been lost to the area are now flourishing within it. Sycamore Hall is very much embedded in the community now, and it is a fantastic showcase for the principles of Extra Care and what can be achieved – it really is an inspirational story.”
Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge was opened in 2007 offering 41 apartments for rent. Since its opening, the scheme has become a popular resource within the local community, with activities including afternoon teas and coffee mornings, film shows for residents, games afternoons and trips out for residents during the summer months.
For more information about Extra Care at Housing 21, visit www.housing21.org.uk
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