FirstPort sack manager for organising lawful Christmas dinner

GMB, the union for workers in the care sector, condemns FirstPort for sacking and evicting a supported living manager for arranging a lawful Christmas lunch for residents.

Wiltshire Police have confirmed that the socially distanced event for lonely and isolated residents at a supported living facility in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was lawful and within the Tier 2 guidelines effective in the area at the time.

The residents share communal facilities in the buildings and have signed a letter confirming that they consider themselves to be in the same bubble. On Christmas Day, Wiltshire was in Tier 2, and it would have been lawful for the residents to have visited a restaurant.

Pam Sherry, the manager at the supported living facility has been dismissed and given notice to quit her flat by FirstPort, because even though the event was lawful, she had not asked her manager’s permission to use the Lounge for the event.

Andy Newman, GMB branch secretary for Wiltshire explains:

“FirstPort have acted brutally in sacking this manager. It is totally disproportionate as all she did wrong was fail to ask permission, and now she and her husband face homelessness. GMB condemns FirstPort for making this couple homeless during a dangerous pandemic. The union’s advice to our members is to stay put, and refuse to leave, and the union will fight this eviction.

Our member, Pam Sherry cares deeply about the health and well being of the residents, and she is deeply concerned that due to isolation over the last year, many of the elderly residents have showed a marked physical and mental deterioration.

“FirstPort are worse than Scrouge, at least Scrouge didn’t sack Bob Cratchit for organising a Christmas dinner!

“She, along with her husband who both live in a flat in the facility, offered a Christmas meal to these vulnerable elderly people, and gave them a choice of whether to have this delivered to their flats, or to have it together. Seven of them chose to have it in the lounge, a room they have a right in their lease to use, and for which they pay. The arrangements were carefully organised to ensure covid safety. The Police visited on the day, checked the arrangements, which they declared to be lawful, and even congratulated Pam for her kind initiative.

“Unbelievably, FirstPort have sacked Pam, because she did not ask permission, and Pam and her husband will now be homeless, as Firstport are evicting them for their flat.

“The residents live largely independently, though there is a live in manager, and are adults who can make their own decisions. Shamefully, a FirstPort manager described the residents as “manipulative” for reaching out to each other to overcome their loneliness by forming a wider bubble, and FirstPort seem to view the residents as children to be controlled.

“Fairhold Homes are the freeholder, and that company owns a large number of supported living facilities. GMB calls on Fairhold Homes to intervene to reinstate Pam, in order to protect their own reputation, as we believe any elderely person should think long and hard before buying a lease in a home that FirstPort manages.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Pamella Sherry has worked for FirstPort for 3 years, with 2 years at regal Court. She is available for interview, and can help to arrange interviews with residents.

Regal Court, Trowbridge is a retirement community offering supported living. The development consists of 30 flats and was completed in 2001. Residents buy their leasehold flats, which include the right to use communal facilities, such as the laundry and lounge.

The Freeholder of the development is Fairhold Homes (No. 7). They contract management of the estate to a company called (Estates & Management – 020 8371 2800). In turn, the employment of the site managers is through a further company, Firstport Management Services Ltd –(01425 632400).

During the Coronavirus pandemic, residents have been continuing to share communal facilities, so that individuals from different households have been in, for example, the laundry at the same time.

Many residents who live alone, including all residents that had lunch in the lounge on Christmas day, have signed a letter testifying that they consider themselves to be in the same bubble

On December 25 2020, Wiltshire was in Tier 2 for the government’s coronavirus restrictions. Pubs and restaurants wer*e open, and the residents who had decided to form an extended bubble could lawfully have visited a pub or restaurant for a meal together.

Wiltshire Police attended Regal Court on 25th December, and confirmed that the event was lawful under the Coronavirus regulations, and a communication to that effect was sent to FirstPort.

Residents have written letters of support for Pamela, which are available on request. Residents are also available for interview.

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