‘Westende is my safety net for my family’ – the heaven-sent community in the heart of Wokingham


The opportunity to live in Wokingham United Charities’ elderly community was ‘heaven-sent’, according to one 79-year-old resident. 

A former night carer at the Masonic Home, Molly Elwood has lived in one of the 27 low-cost one bed self-contained flats in Westende Almshouses in London Road for over two decades.

She says: “I am very, very thankful to be living here in this lovely community. We have coffee mornings, games evenings and craft afternoons. We aren’t just  flat numbers — we’ve become friends”

“But it is also a safety net for my family and peace of mind. I am content here.”

The gardens at Westende Picture: Charlotte Simpson

Despite living with osteoarthritis and having had both knees and hips replaced, Molly finds her ground-floor flat, complete with a warden and easy access to the town centre, comfortable and accommodating.

She moved to Wokingham in 1979 from East Belfast — ‘although when my husband, Tommy, first suggested it, we couldn’t see the borough on the map’ — and lived in Sturges Road with her husband and five children. 

She and Tommy did then have a short six-week stint back in Northern Ireland in 1997 once her children had grown up and moved out, but she soon realised ‘home is where your family is’, and headed back to the borough to be near to them.

But, Molly and her husband weren’t sure where to live, so were invited to look around Westende.

“The [charity] brought us to the flat, and that’s the one I would have chosen anyway! I believe it was all meant to be.”

Then, five years ago, her much-loved husband died.

She adds: “Suddenly I was on my own – but in a safe environment, on my own.”

The gardens at Westende Picture: Charlotte Simpson

Surrounded by friends who live in the neighbouring flats, Molly is always able to get someone to accompany her into town when she needs company and feels part of a close-knit group. 

She adds: “I love people and I am all for helping a community because I feel it’s important. You need to give a little back”.

“I believe you have to work at getting to know your neighbours in a small community because in times of trouble, you need them.”

Interested in Living at Westende?

Are you of retirement age? Are you able to live independently, shop and cook for yourself? Do you have a strong connection with Wokingham? Are you in need, for example financial, social or family circumstances? Couple or single?

Head to http://wokinghamunitedcharities.org.uk/alms_houses/alms_houses.htm or call Tracey Hedgecox on 07598 583513 to find out more.

This is sponsored content prepared by The Wokingham Paper

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