Pauline and Carol's story

For years Pauline and Carol struggled without heating or hot water. Feeling safe has made a huge difference to their lives.

The Orchards, Hyde’s sheltered housing scheme in Brighton, has given best friends, Pauline and Carol, a place they can finally call home.

Pauline Verney and Carol Harrison (both 68) still can’t quite believe their luck. Before they moved into The Orchards in August 2015, they rented a flat in Portslade Old Village, an area of Brighton.

For years they struggled with no hot water, no heating, and it leaked so badly that water ran down the walls. Antisocial behaviour was also a problem: they often had their things broken by neighbours.

“And sometimes people were unkind. In the end, we asked to leave,” said Pauline who broke her pelvis in a fall. She’s now completely deaf after having mastoiditis in both her ears.

When they went looking for other alternatives, none of the properties were suitable. They were shown flats with numerous steps and at the top of high buildings.

Carol is blind in one eye and has osteoarthritis. “I’ve got nine fractures in my spine. How would I have coped? I’d have had problems getting into the flat with things like my wheelchair and Zimmer frame,” she says.

They now share a home on the ground floor – along with their budgies – and are thrilled to be able to move about easily. “Ours is the only two bed property in the complex – it used to be the caretaker’s – and we’ve even got a garden. We’re so lucky,” said Pauline.

Feeling safe and being part of a caring community has made a huge difference to their lives. The pair, who have been friends for about 40 years, first met in an orphanage. “I’ve never known my family, I was left on the nuns’ doorstep when I was two days old,” says Carol.

Pauline and Carol love having the freedom to do whatever they want and go wherever they please.

“We couldn’t do that before. We live in a nice place and get the support we need – people check up on us. And we’ve made lots of friends; people here are kind and friendly. We go shopping, have barbeques, enjoy coffee mornings and the lady vicar even comes to visit.”