“It’s because of society. Maggie Thatcher started it – me, me, me!”

I moved here in 1979. It’s changed radically. There is no community now. Before, where ever you lived in the block, everyone was nice and helped each other. There was the odd one who was doolally but we tolerated them. When I was ill recently, no one knocked on my door. Luckily I have two children at home. The neighbours keep themselves to themselves. It’s because of society. Maggie Thatcher started it – me, me, me! People are in their own bubble, they are not interested about what’s outside that bubble.

I’ve been in hospital a lot, there’s something wrong with my lungs, they can’t give me a diagnosis, they can’t tell me what they think. They’re very good to me though.

When I lived in Lafone House, especially in the summer, the children could go down in the courtyard and we’d watch over them. And my neighbour Lynne would bring a hose pipe out of the kitchen and spray the kids and they’d squeal.

When I had my last child, I was very ill. I was expecting twins and one of them died, so I had to have an emergency Caesarean at 7 months. My neighbours were excellent. In those days we were old school, we didn’t buy anything until our babies were born. My neighbours looked after my little boy, they brought clothes for the baby and food. I couldn’t get out, so they helped me getting back on my feet. They were from all backgrounds, West Indians, Welsh, Irish, British.

We would like it if there was not so much building. There is too much density. Too overlooked. Too close. It’s not what we wanted.

— Susan

Part of a collection of oral histories about regeneration and community change, as told by members of the Clapham Park Over 50s Club to Creative in Residence Stella Barnes.

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