There are 35 sheltered housing flats in Fitch Court that lies just to the south of Brixton town centre on Effra Road. Some of the residents have lived there for more than 20 years and there’s a culture of looking out for and after each other.
Council plans to build more extra care homes meant the redevelopment of Fitch Court and residents faced a possibility of moving away from the Brixton area before maybe returning to the new building. But now it looks like permanent homes will be found as part of the nearby Somerleyton Road project.
Mr Carlton Guy has lived at Fitch Court about nine years and is an active member of the residents association. He was concerned about the psychological effects for older people of moving, particular more than once and away from the places they know: “It’s a shame to dislocate older people and, for me, it’s the moving again and again that is going to affect people.”
Last month the Somerleyton Road project team met with Fitch Court residents for the first time. We hope there will be many more events as residents become more involved with designing this new street for all ages.
And it’s not just the design of the extra care homes that will be of interest – we’ve already had requests for Block Workout sessions, which we hope will take place soon. Mr Guy MBE is an award-winning artistic director with links to Ovalhouse, the theatre company soon to make its home at Somerleyton Road too.
Mr Guy was the artistic director of a Birmingham-based dance company, Kokuma, before moving to London in 1998 to become the course coordinator for Britain’s first African and Caribbean Dance diploma course managed by IRIE Dance Theatre Company and accredited by Birkbeck College. He won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Dance of the African Diaspra in 2011 and received his MBE in 2012.
He’s keen to see dance and performance help to bring cultures and generations together and is particularly excited about the Black Cultural Archives opening this year: “If you want to see how a society is doing – look at the young people – particularly from our culture. Brixton has grown a bit more sophisticated but we don’t want to lose the characters and the cultures. Our traditions are oral so we need to bring communities together to celebrate diversity.
About the possibilities at Somerleyton Road, he says: ““I’m a very optimistic person. What the council has got to prove to us is that they will involve us in the regeneration and listen to our concerns – that we matter as residents and as a community of people and that it’s not just about a building. If this happens then Somerleyton Road could be an example for more developments to follow.”
You can read more about the Somerleyton Road project here.