Blackwood Help Bruce Celebrate a Special Birthday

by Heather Peebles

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Bruce's BirthdayIt’s been a weekend of celebrations at a sheltered housing complex in Edinburgh to mark a special birthday for one of its residents.

Bruce Fairnington held a party for his 40th birthday in the same lounge where he celebrated his 21st back in 1995.

Friends and family of Bruce joined staff at Blackwood’s Abbey Court in Abbeyhill to celebrate and reminisce on the past 20 years of his life.

Born in Shrewsbury, Bruce, a wheelchair-user made the move to Edinburgh in 1995 after discovering how the specialist services at Abbey Court could cater to his needs.

He required specially adapted housing and has benefitted from the wide range of support services provided by housing and care specialist Blackwood, which is recognised as Scotland’s leading expert in adaptations which transform the lives of people with disabilities or other specialist needs.

Bruce said: “After looking at the services available years ago I was impressed by what I saw and decided to make the move to Edinburgh.  The decision changed my life for the better and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to achieve so much throughout the past 20 years.

“Although I do require a wheelchair I don’t let that hold me back from doing what I want and the team at Blackwood have assisted me with so many things throughout my time at Abbey Court.

“I live a very full life here and have made so many friends. I hold weekly bible groups and am responsible for the weekly food Co-op which is held every Monday, so feel very much a part of the community.

“I have also been lucky enough to go on holidays with some of the tenants and I have very fond memories of trips to Blackpool, Benidorm and even sailing on a Tall Ship.

“I would like to thank everyone at Blackwood for their support over the years and for all of their kind birthday wishes.”

The emphasis at Abbey Court is on tenants being as independent as possible. They are encouraged to undertake all aspects of day-to-day living tasks as far as they are able. For some, like Bruce, sheltered housing may be a first step towards independent living.

Lesley McAnna, Community Support Assistant at Blackwood, said: “Bruce has a great personality and always goes out of his way to help anyone.

“The environment that Blackwood has created at Abbey Court is perfect for his needs. Bruce is fiercely independent and won’t let anything stop him doing what he wants so it is great that he has the freedom he desires but knows we are there when he does need us.

“Bruce is a real asset to the community at Abbey Court and we are delighted that we are able to share this special day with him.”

Blackwood provides support that lets people make their own choices and have control over their lives in accommodation that meets their needs. As a result it has an outstanding record of adapting properties to make them accessible.

Since people who use Blackwood’s services include older people, those with physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues or sensory impairment, even small adaptations can deliver significant quality of life improvements.

The include minor adaptations which such as lowering the thresholds between rooms for easier wheelchair access, fitting grab rails and installing easy-to-use lever taps. However, they also carry out bigger projects, including installing wet rooms, level access showers and “rise and fall” kitchens.

With 1600 properties and tailored, individual care packages for more than 400 people, Blackwood has embraced the challenges of taking housing and care into innovative areas at a time when funding is increasingly.

Its board and executive team have a clear strategy to ensure a long-term and sustainable future while also helping its customers deal with welfare reforms.

It works in 29 of Scotland’s 32 council areas, working closely with many local authorities, more than any other care or housing provider.

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood Partnership. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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