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Posted 01 August 2023

Following a triple heart bypass in 2011, Mick decided to move out of his flat, which was surrounded by student accommodation, for “a quieter way of living” at a Housing 21 Retirement Living scheme

At 55, Mick had spent much of his career working as a chef, enjoying lengthy stints in the military and working on rigs at sea. But following his operation, he suddenly found himself struggling to obtain employment and upon moving to into Retirement Living, decided to utilise his free time to volunteer as the voice for his local community.  

“Moving into Retirement Living made that transition from being a working man to a man of leisure a lot easier,” said Mick, who has three children and three grandchildren.  

“But as long as I am able to, I want to help people. Not everyone has the confidence to stand up for what they want to say and they don’t have a voice. So, I tried to give everyone a voice by joining the scheme’s Residents’ Association.” 

Over the coming years, Mick became the ‘voice’ for his scheme and thereafter the whole of the North East when he joined Housing 21’s Regional Retirement Living Forum.

When Housing 21 introduced a north, central and south Residents’ Forum for both Retirement Living and Extra Care residents combined, Mick was elected Chairman for the north. 

Through the forums, Mick and other volunteering residents would meet with members of Housing 21’s Senior Leadership Team to discuss regional and national issues, which were then escalated to the national Extra Care and Retirement Living Committees 

Mick said: “I’ve always tried to be a mediator rather than someone who bangs on the table and tries to shout the loudest; I don’t like that. It’s not a good way to negotiate and it needs to be a two-way street; I found the more we adopted that approach the better it got.” 

When a vacancy later arose on the Retirement Living Committee, Mick put himself forward and formally joined the group in April 2023. 

“For me Retirement Living is living with help if needed – but with an emphasis on living. Our residents can be anything from 55 to 105; it’s such a broad age group that you’re try to represent but I’m really passionate about older people and all our residents,” said Mick. 

“People want – and deserve – to be heard, listened to and valued. It’s about being open minded as to how people think and trying to give a voice to as many people as possible.” 

When asked what his ambitions are for being on the committee and what he would like his legacy in the role to be, Mick added: “Better communication between Housing 21 and the residents and better rapport. Two-way communication is vital for everyone.” 

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