Pensioners march over 'cutbacks' to wardens

Pensioners who live in sheltered housing complexes across Northampton have warned cuts to services are putting the most vulnerable at risk.

About 50 elderly people from across the town took part in a march through the middle of Northampton yesterday to highlight cuts to services which mean many of them now only receive visits from wardens once a month.

War veteran Fred O'Donnell, aged 89, who lives in a sheltered housing complex in Blackthorn, led the march.

He said: "People in sheltered housing are all either elderly or disabled and many of them can't get about on their own, that's why they need to live somewhere safe, where they're cared for.

"But because they've altered the whole structure of the service, we now don't get the care we need.

"We used to have wardens come to see us regularly, but now we only get part-time care."

Many of the pensioners on the march complained their regular wardens now had to visit several different complexes, meaning the number of visits they receive each month has been cut.

Tony Adams, aged 72, who lives in a complex in Dallington, said: "We used to see wardens all the time, but now they have to cover three or four areas.

"That means only the really vulnerable people now get a visit every day. For someone like me, it's once a month.

"Anything could happen in that month and nobody would know about it.

"I now look after two or three people on our complex myself. I take them out shopping whenever I can, but most of them are in their eighties or nineties and they want the wardens back."

His views were backed by 76-year-old Vera Kitson, who lives in a sheltered housing complex in Weston Favell.

She said: "A lot of elderly people are housebound and they need the wardens. Sometimes it's the only person they see. It's a vital service for them."

Because most of the people taking part in the march were elderly, the route only stretched for a few yards along Abington Street.

The protest was filmed by crews from the BBC's Panorama programme, who will broadcast a programme on sheltered housing in August.