When Douglas gets out of bed in the morning in his spacious new flat in Biggleswade, most mornings he dresses himself in a matching shirt and jumper and gets ready to go and meet his friends at the nearby day centre which he has visited for 37 years.
But Wednesday is his special day, the only day he ‘has off’, because he gets up, gets dressed, then cleans his spotless flat, hoovering, dusting, and polishing, so proud is he to have his own front door.
At 76, he has spent most of his adult life living in a care home, sharing facilities with three other adults with learning disabilities, but no longer. Now he can show off his one bedroom flat to his friends and family.
“I make my own breakfast, wash up and then I do all my own cleaning. I like everything to be in order,” he says, hugely proud of his achievements.
“When they were building this place I came to see how they were getting on. They gave me a hard hat. I was the project manager,” he laughs.
Douglas is one of 11 adults who have moved into the brand new purpose built scheme in the Chapelfields area of Biggleswade, developed by Grand Union Housing Group (GUHG) for its subsidiary MacIntyre Housing Association, as part of the Bedfordshire Campus Closure Programme.
Costing nearly £1.5m it is the largest scheme in the county under the programme, funded jointly by Central Bedfordshire Council and GUHG, and the only one to be home exclusively to over 55s.
Each tenant has their own supported housing officer from MacIntyre who helps them with their care programme and tenancy, while care workers from Choice Support look after the day to day support needs of each person.
For many it’s the first time in their lives they have had their own front door, for some, the first time they have had anything approaching privacy and independence.
“I love my new flat. It’s so quiet here. I can walk into town when I want. I walk to the church on a Sunday. I go shopping and have bought everything for my new flat with my care worker Jackie. She helps me with my cooking but I make sure everything is tidy,” says Douglas.