Caston Harris, affectionately known by everyone as ‘Mr Cas,’ has lived in St Mauritius House for more than 20 of his 80 years. “I enjoy it here –I don’t have problems with anyone; I speak to everyone and they all know me.”
He loves making St Mauritius House his home. “We have everything we need here, I can’t complain. I’m happy because we’ve also got new carpets and double glazing.”
The retirement/sheltered scheme for predominantly Afro-Caribbean elders has a beautiful communal area including lounge, dining room, laundry and garden as well as guest facilities.
It also holds events where residents – and the community – can come together to socialise. This includes a Pensioners’ Forum every Monday where they can learn more about computers or how to play the ukulele, amongst other things.
Mr Cas first came to the UK in 1961 as a young man.
After the Second World War and up until 1970, hundreds of thousands of people left their homes in the West Indies to come to Britain. “Even though we’d never seen Britain before, we were British citizens,” he explains, “We had the right to live and work here.”
Britain needed manpower to re-build the country after the devastation of the war, with many Jamaican men working as labourers. Mr Cas worked all over the UK in many jobs, including as a skilled construction worker testing undersea cables, and then later for Waltham Forest Ferries in London.
These days, he is happily retired and very active. Even though he now uses a walking stick because he’s caught a nerve in his back, he doesn’t let it get him down. He’s always immaculately dressed – sometimes in tweed and a flat cap –and always flashes his signature smile.
Mr Cas, who now has a carer to look after him, likes going to the revivalist church in Brockley, playing in a bongo drum band, enjoy dominoes and helping in the garden. “I also like being visited by my family,” he says.