Celebration Event Marks Opening of Phoebe Cusden House Supported Living Scheme

Phoebe Cusden House

THE completion of Phoebe Cusden Supported Living Scheme, a Reading Borough Council housing development, has been marked with a celebration event.

The Mayor of Reading, Cllr Mohammed Ayub, Reading councillors Rachel Eden and Richard Davies, Council officers, members of Phoebe Cusden’s family, contractors and residents, gathered together for a launch event at Phoebe Cusden House at Whitley Rise, south Reading, on 31st March.

Following a ribbon cutting by the mayor, the celebrations continued across from Phoebe Cusden House, with refreshments in the communal space at Cedar Court, extra care housing scheme.

Phoebe Cusden House provides 11 much needed supported living flats for residents with disabilities and is owned and managed by the Council.

The development is next to Cedar Court, the Council’s extra care housing scheme which opened on the former Avenue School site in Basingstoke Road in 2014.

The supported living tenancies support residents who need help with daily living and personal care, and provides care on site.  This offers a real alternative to residential care, giving the individuals greater independence, dignity and choice in their lives, to control the care they receive and enable them to live fulfilling lives.

The location of the property provides superb access to public transport links and local facilities, so tenants can access work and leisure activities, whilst forging stronger links with the wider community.

The building includes a lift and is fully wheelchair accessible. It has been designed to meet high standards of sustainability, through the use of under floor heating, biomass boilers and recycling and composting facilities. It will efficiently share its heating and sprinkler system with Cedar Court.

Cllr Rachel Eden, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, said:

“This is an exciting way in which, despite the budget challenges we face, we are supporting residents to live fulfilling lives. 

“It really does offer the best of both worlds – privacy and independence combined with support and care. Not only does the supported living scheme offer residents more independence and an alternative to a care home, in the long term it will also generate savings for the Council.”

Cllr Richard Davies, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, said:

“I’m delighted that the Council was able to build this new specialist Council housing which increases the quality and choice of accommodation for disabled adults in Reading and offers them greater independence. I am pleased to see residents now settled in Phoebe Cusden House.”

Lisa Clayton, Area Manager for the HCA, added:

“It is great news that work is completed on this important project which delivers much needed housing for vulnerable adults. We know how important developments such as Phoebe Cusden House are in places like Reading, and that’s why we supported this development with investment to help make it happen.”

The £2 million pound development is jointly funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Reading Borough Council. The Care and Support Specialist Housing Fund (managed by the HCA) which is designed to help older people, or those with disabilities or mental health problems, to live more independently, provided £450,000 towards the build.

The new scheme is named in honour of the former Mayor of Reading, Phoebe Cusden MBE (1887-1981), who became mayor in 1946 and is best known for her work to promote friendship between the peoples of Reading and Düsseldorf after the Second World War.

Notes to editors

Photos of the opening celebration event are available to download from www.flickr.com/photos/readingnewsimages

Phoebe Cusden MBE

Phoebe Cusden (1887-1981) became Mayor of Reading in 1946. Her mayoral year coincided with major flooding which affected the town in 1947 when the Thames burst its banks following a period of heavy snow. Large areas of the town were submerged under several feet of water. The Mayor herself described it as ‘the town’s worst disaster in 300 years.’

Phoebe Cusden launched a Flood Distress Fund which raised money for the estimated 1,600 homes which were damaged. She did more than just raise money however. The Mayor took it upon herself to join the Women’s Voluntary Service to distribute hot tea to residents in Lower Caversham. She was also involved in the foundation of the Progress Theatre.

Phoebe Cusden was a well-known pacifist and today she is best known for her work to promote friendship between the peoples of Reading and Düsseldorf after the Second World War. She led an appeal for help to people in Düsseldorf and visited the city to find out the conditions, and in the year after her mayoralty she invited six Düsseldorf children to stay in Reading for three months, and set up the Reading Düsseldorf Association. In 1951 she was made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

Reading celebrates 70 years of association with Dusseldorf this year and Reading Dusseldorf Association is organising and supporting a range of community event to celebrate throughout the year. Visit http://www.reading-dusseldorf.org.uk/ for details.

David Millward

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