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I visited Tony at his lovely flat in Friendly Street Mews. He was very proud to show me around his spacious living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. It was very, very clean and tidy. “Much tidier than my house” I told him. We are both Arsenal crazy so we spent some time standing on his Arsenal rug talking about how Emery’s first season as manager had gone. We agreed it wasn’t too bad, but next season it needs to be better.
We peeked into the pretty little garden at the back; Tony told me he has plans for a memorial to his Mum and Dad in the garden, to be planted with plants and flowers. We then got down to business and I interviewed Tony about his move to Friendly Street.
J: How long have you lived in this flat now Tony?
T: I think it is about a year. This one is much better. I don’t get into trouble and I get better sleep.
J: Why is that, Tony?
T: Bloke upstairs always threatening me. Threatened to put me out on the street. Kept knocking at my door at night when I was asleep. Trying to sleep when you have got to get up for work, it was not easy. When he was drunk, he was harassing me.
J: What’s it like now Tony?
T: It’s better with more staff looking after me. I see them more often and I get more support. I went away for weekends. Going to Butlins next week. I go out more, especially at Xmas. It is something new, with different staff.
J: In your old flat, did you have trouble with people before the bloke upstairs?
T: I thought people were friends but they weren’t. Took my money. Didn’t treat me right. Moved in with me. Lived off my money and my food. I was just trying to be kind and give them a place to stay. Just trying to be friendly. C cooked for me. It’s good that it stopped.
Tony made me a cup of tea then showed me a document with photographs which was used to help him plan his move to Friendly Street. There were pictures showing what furniture was already in the flat so Tony knew what to pack. The Support Worker helped him to pack and to move to Friendly Street.
J: What else is important to you about living here at Friendly Street, Tony?
T: I can get to places easier. I can get to Lewisham easier, just one bus. I can get to the new office on the 47. I can get to the pub. I love working at the pub, I do three shifts now. I do everything for myself. Staff come and see me, check I am OK and remind me what to do.
J: Would you go back to where you were living before?
T: No way! No way would I go back to where I lived before. It’s nicer here. Much better.
On my way out, Tony showed me the photograph of him getting his 25th Anniversary award for Speaking Out from Gary Bourlet, co-founder of LDE. He got it for writing to Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, about how important paid work is to him. The photo was mounted on the wall, together with his certificate. Tony is very proud of doing things for himself, of his independence, of having a paid job. We are very proud of him for making such a success of moving house.