Taken out of context (Kathy Greaves)

With reference to recent letters in The Shetland Times I wish to make it clear that the online comment in my name was in response to an article published in the newspaper on 16th June, which reported “an unexpected funding boost” to the SIC to build affordable housing in Shetland. Good news.

My response – reported in Words from the web the following week (23rd June) – was to an online comment which hoped that the funds would not just be used for smaller, one or two-bedroomed homes, to which I agreed as there are many young couples and families throughout Shetland without their own homes, or who are living in overcrowded conditions as their families grow in number and physical size.

At no time did I suggest that people should be moved out of their homes unwillingly, into a little room. At no time did I suggest that anyone should dispose of the items they have collected over the years either. Shetland’s housing agencies should be providing homes attractive to older single people or couples which would make them consider moving to smaller housing units – houses or apartments.

In the past I have seen older folk living in homes they cannot manage to run, to heat, to clean, to decorate and to furnish, with room(s) unused and in some cases where council did not cut their grass, gardens untended.

I don’t know, but I would think that larger homes cost more to rent as well as to heat too. One person I visited lived up a flight of stairs where he could not descend to ground level due to his mobility problem, and stair lifts are not a safe option for some elderly in case of fire anyway. Another had several carers a day, one cleaning rooms which were never used, including a second bathroom; all at a cost.

When I was a Lerwick Community Councillor a few years ago I suggested that the site on King Harald Street, being a vacant plot, could be used for building a dozen or so modern, spacious, light and easy to run apartments for older people who might want to decant to a smaller home.

Aside from freeing up larger homes – some with gardens – for families, tenants here would have easy access to Islesburgh, the flower park and bowling green, library and town hall and a short walk to da street. My suggestion, Sandy McMillan, was scorned, shouted down as it “would create a ghetto”.

Personally in my later years I’d rather live in a smart new residential low-rise community in the centre of town with people of my own age as neighbours, in a roomy apartment, easy to run and cheap to heat and maintain.

If there was such an option I am sure there would be many takers, with no-one coercing them to move. The council housing dept should look at such a solution to their housing problems.

Kathy Greaves


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