Here in the editorial office, we still have many copies of The Whistler going back 40 years. Given that the site is soon to be redeveloped, it’s interesting to read what The Whistler team said about the new building on Buckingham Road in the March 1979 issue . . .
You may have wondered what goes on in the tastefully restored houses at 76-80 Buckingham Road and the modern building on the corner of Upper Gloucester Road. They are, in fact, a Hostel for Mentally Handicapped Adults, and a Social Education Centre, which are under separate administration but are joined on three floors.
The Hostel has rooms for up to 20 residents and is run by an Officer in Charge, who has two deputies and a number of Care Assistants and Domestic Staff. I was shown round this new part of our community by Simon Davis, who is Second Officer in Charge, and I met a number of residents and staff. There are 15 long-stay rooms and the rest are for people who stay for a short time. Each of the three residential floors has a kitchen, dining room and lounge. There is some staff accommodation and also some recreation rooms.
Residents are shown how to cope with the normal everyday problem of living and there is a training flat, where people can experience living alone before moving away to a home of their own. They work at places like the Education Centre next door.
So far, the Hostel I have described sounds as though it could equally well have been on top of the Ditchling Beacon, so I asked Simon why this site was chosen. He said it was one of the most important aspects of the Hostel that residents and staff should get to know other people living in the area and that this should help prepare the residents to move out of the Hostel into their own accommodation. Obviously, we can all help in this and so do something for one of the most discriminated sections of society. The people at 76 Buckingham Road (as they prefer to call it) would like visitors and friends to visit; they would like to help others and to be helped.
If you would like to know more about the Hostel, if you would like to meet the people who live there, do contact Fran Wiles, who is responsible for contacts between the Hostel and the rest of the community.
My own feeling is that 76 Buckingham Road is a happy place to live in and I look forward to the day when there are many more such houses spread throughout the community.