‘I had to cancel my 90th birthday’

George Clarke
George Clarke

Pensioner George Clarke describes life in his Chingford care home since the lockdown began

Since the virus began and the stay-at-home advice was issued, pensioners living at Enterprise House in Chingford have enjoyed an appetising two-course lunch, delivered to our flats, five days a week.

The lunches cost £6 each, and breakfasts are also available. The meals delivery service is being provided by the restaurant at our eight-storey retirement home in Kings Head Hill, run by the charitable Housing and Community Association.

A unique project for the retired, for more than 50 years Enterprise House has provided economic flats for pensioners on a not-for-profit and self-supporting basis.

The shop in the building has continued to open several mornings a week, providing the basics, plus a wide variety of other items. The bar is closed and no group meetings are held, while there is no longer ‘open access’ and residents have to let themselves into the house using fobs that operate the doors. The reception at the main entrance is open during normal office hours and the staff give access for deliveries including food, but no visitors are allowed at present.

As well as watching TV and listening to radio, I’ve been playing CDs and DVDs, reading fiction and non-fiction – catching up on things I’ve intended to do for years. Because I have severe hearing loss, talking on the phone is difficult, but my iPad is my lifeline, enabling me to be in touch regularly with family and friends. It’s also very useful in downloading programmes to watch when there’s nothing on TV that appeals to me.

Many residents have had to cancel family celebrations. I had to postpone my 90th birthday party, an afternoon tea planned for the beginning of June, as well as cancel the group lunches I have been holding twice a month for friends in the community.

Residents still get exercise by walking at Enterprise House’s three-acre garden, or by walking to local shops. Of course, we have all been staying in our flats except when it is essential to go out.