Eighty-two year old Mr Small, as he is known by everyone, has lived in St Mauritius House for the past 11 years.
Mr Small is very happy in the retirement/sheltered scheme in Lewisham: “I’m grateful I’ve got a roof over my head; I don’t upset anyone and no one upsets me. Here at St Mauritius House we all unite together.”
Recently he joined in with other residents to enjoy an Open Afternoon to introduce a brand new initiative - a twice weekly Lunch Club for residents, as well as for the local community.
The scheme already runs a popular Domino Club which is open to the community, though Mr Small doesn’t play. “I sometimes go and watch; I like the socialising, having a laugh…”
Mr Small keeps himself fit and healthy by ‘getting out and about a lot’ and walking as much as possible. He has many friends in the scheme and is currently looking after a fellow resident who suffered a stroke and who has been in and out of hospital.
When the weather is fine, he enjoys being outside in the community garden, sometimes helping gardening enthusiast, Doxie, to water the plants.
Mr Small arrived in the UK in November 1958 along with hundreds of thousands of other people from the West Indies. Used to the clear blue water, sandy beaches and sunny skies of Jamaica, six weeks of snow was a huge shock!
And those first few years in Deptford, where he lived ‘five-in-a room’ with family, were difficult. He recalls how he signed on at the Labour Exchange which, in those days, helped unemployed people find work.
“Eventually I found a job as a labourer, but I got the sack a couple of times,” he smiles, “It was winter time and I used to wake when the sun came up; but that was not good enough.. because I’d always be late for work! My brother bought me an alarm clock and it took me months to get used to it!”