In the second of our blogs written by Phoenix residents who feature in our 10 Years Together exhibition, Patricia Birch - who has lived on the Downham Estate almost all her life, from long before Phoenix was created - explains how Phoenix prioritised bringing homes up to the right standard for its residents.
I’ve lived in Downham since I was three and I’m now 86. When we got married we lived for two years in Bermondsey. Then I had a call to say we were offered a house on Downham, which we took. So I’ve been in that house for 61 years, that’s a long time.
My friend and I went to one of the pre-Phoenix meetings and they were promising that they’d give us this and they’d give us that. And so my friend and I – she’s also been a long-term tenant on the estate – said, “I couldn’t imagine them doing that, no way!”
I did vote yes in the ballot about whether Phoenix should be set up, but I must admit we were very sceptical about the takeover. But, fair dues, Phoenix in my eyes can do no wrong.
They’ve done everything they said they would – they’ve completely refurbished my home, my kitchen, my bathroom and put in double glazing. It’s an absolute joy not to have any draughts.
And the men all took care of my home. So then, when it was all finished they said, “Well, everything all right Mrs Birch, are you all happy with that?”
I said, “Well, I’ve got one complaint.”
They said, surprised, “What’s that?”
I said, “I can’t lift the water can up to put under the tap in the kitchen to water the garden.”
So they said, “Give Mrs Birch an outside tap.”
They promised us the earth, and in my opinion, I was given the earth.