Helen runs the hair salon at Bournville Gardens. She hears everything – good and bad.
So Helen, you run the hair salon. You must have a real insight into the goings on here?
Well, the hairdresser is the best place. It’s the hub of any community. We hear all the positives and all the negatives about everything and everybody!
I bet! So, tell me about the community here.
There’s a lovely community here. All kinds of people come from all walks of life. But people embrace the diversity. There’s like a mutual respect between people. It’s a lovely balance really.
What do you think binds the community together?
When they have entertainment for big celebrations, everybody comes together for that. We just had the third birthday party. They put on a fantastic show, there was entertainment all day.
The thing that I really notice from being here, is the gents coming down for the newspaper in the morning. They’ve got those lovely curved seats where they sit and wait for the shop to open. They come half an hour early because they actually just want to interact and have a chat. That just makes me smile.
I think that gentlemen in their houses on a high street, they go to the shop, come back. They might get a grunt from the person that serves them. They wouldn’t have had anybody smile or chat to them.
You mentioned that working in the salon, you hear all the positives and the negatives. What are the residents here concerned about?
People have different concerns and there are all sorts of little niggles really. When we first moved in, people thought there wasn’t enough parking. But that seems to have sorted itself out. We’re on a convenient bus route so people decide they don’t need a parking space.
I think a lot of people think the atrium is absolutely beautiful but that it should be better utilised. I think a coffee bar out there would work.
And what do people like about living here?
I think they like the facilities that are available. They like having a hairdresser, a beauty therapist, a shop, a gym, a nice restaurant. They like that the apartments are beautiful, that the maintenance is done for them and that the gardens are well kept.
Does Bournville Gardens feel like a typical ‘retirement village’?
I would say we’re a salon within a later living complex, rather than a retirement complex.
I think the kind of people that choose to live in a place like this are people that have embraced life and still want to enjoy it. They want to give up the things that are hard to maintain, such as doing the garden or cleaning big houses, in order to do the things they enjoy. I admire the people that come here.
What do you like about working here?
It’s just a beautiful environment. And people appreciate what you’re doing as well. The generation of people here can teach the youngsters an awful lot.