Jacky in her living room at Chamomile Gardens in Biggleswade

Jacky, 69, had been living in a ground floor flat in Sandy for 10 years, feeling lonely and suffering from anxiety. She would regularly admire a block of new apartments that were being built in Biggleswade, thinking how nice it would be to live somewhere like that.

“I thought the apartments must be private because they looked so lovely. But then I saw it was a housing association building them – Grand Union Housing Group – so I decided to call them to find out more.

“I applied through Central Bedfordshire Council and was over the moon to find out I’d been successful with my application.

“I moved into Chamomile Gardens in January 2023, with my cat. We’re both so happy here, it’s lovely.

“I’m really thankful that I live here. I feel safe and worry less, so I’m sleeping better, which is obviously better for me, and my nerves and anxiety have also improved.

“I’m also eating better since I moved here; I’ve put on half a stone!”

The scheme of 93 apartments has been beautifully furnished with spacious communal areas for the residents to enjoy and has additional facilities, such as a hairdresser, restaurant and day care space, building on the sense of community that already seems to play a big part of residents’ lives. Jacky is certainly making the most of the social activities that regularly take place.

“Being on my own, I felt very lonely before, it was such an issue, but now I have nice neighbours. It’s wonderful to have people to socialise with.

“We meet up for coffee and catch-ups in the communal lounge areas and we have get-togethers in the cinema room too. We go out for meals and we held a big party for the King’s Coronation.

“I’m also able to people-watch from my window; children going to school, people walking their dogs. I feel like I’m part of civilisation again, being amongst other people.

“We’re in a really convenient location too. From here, I can easily get to the sports centre, where I go swimming and have my Pilates classes. I can walk to town to a coffee shop or to the Interchange retail park or to the local shops.

“Natalie, Grand Union’s Health & Housing Coordinator has visited here carrying out health checks and we have Tracey, a foot therapist, who visits us too.”

Jacky’s balcony, where she can sit and relax, overlooks a piece of steel artwork in the garden – three chamomile flowers, designed by a Northamptonshire blacksmith.

“In the summer I’ll be able to sit outside in the beautiful gardens and talk to people, which will be lovely.

“Living here has made a real difference to my life, it’s enriched it. I have companions and friends here; but you can choose to join in if you want, or not.

“My family are thrilled for me and it’s made them feel better because they know I’m so happy. It’s wonderful!”