It takes a village to raise some funds – Abbeyfield residents and staff mark the installation of the fundraising thermometer with representatives from the Sign Factory who made the sign. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Close to a million dollars will be spent expanding Masterton’s Abbeyfield house, part of a nationwide network of 14 houses providing supported rental accommodation for residents 65 and older – with $100,000 in fundraising being targeted locally.

The house, on Church St, has 10 studios, but this will be increased to 14.

A fundraising thermometer has just gone up outside the house, showing around $30,000 already raised, with house manager Jude Clark saying Abbeyfield filled an important role in the community.

“Not all older people have the ability to go into retirement villages,” she said.

Abbeyfield provides rental accommodation, with private units, and a common living area, as well as three meals a day.

“The residents are like flatmates, really.”

Abbeyfield opened in 1996 in what was originally the manse for St Matthew’s Church, next door.

The ‘house’ is made up of buildings from three eras – the manse dating back to 1878, with additions in the 1950s and 1995.

Artist’s impression of Abbeyfield expansion. IMAGE/ABBEYFIELD

Abbeyfield Masterton chairman Laurie Williams said the plan was to move the manse building from the site, though it is hoped it will remain in Masterton.

“A contractor is interested,” he said.

He said the increase in unit numbers met two important criteria, with 12 units considered a bare minimum nationally.

“Having 14 units fills the need for accommodation and keeps the house financially viable,” he said.

It is hoped work will start in January, with the first step to create new dining and living spaces before the manse house is moved.

Abbeyfield said residents are selected by committee members with input from residents and a housekeeper, based on applicants’ social, financial and housing need, capability for self care, and ability to get along with others.

Residency is not means-tested and no financial entry contribution is required.

Apart from a paid housekeeper, all staff are volunteers.

Donations towards the planned work are welcome from “trusts, bequeaths and kind people”.

For further information, email: info@abbeyfieldmasterton.nz