As millions of people around the world were gearing up to celebrate the Chinese New Year, our Swan Gardens home was no exception.
The development consists of 24 apartments exclusively for Chinese elders and opened in 2004. You won’t find a flat number 4 or 14 as these are considered unlucky in Chinese culture. This year is the Year of the Dog. In Chinese culture the Dog is considered to be honest and loyal, the truest friend and most reliable partner.
Loneliness and isolation is an issue for many older people but can be even more of a challenge when English is not your first language, so friendships are important to combating this. Swan Gardens actively tries to tackle these issues and the Chinese New Year celebration is a great example of how the housing association both embraces and actively encourages diversity, building community connections and developing friendships.
FHA Wales Project Officer, Fun Wong, has helped many tenants settle in during her time at Swan Gardens. She commented: “We try to get all of the tenants involved in as many different things as we can to make them feel at home. We have people come in to take different groups and classes and many of our tenants now have English lessons so they are able to go out into the community to visit places like the market and register with the surgery without needing our help.”
One such tenant is Nu Queen Hong, who moved to Swansea from Hong Kong almost 40 years ago. She has been living at Swan Gardens for just over a year and has quickly settled and made strong friendships with all of the tenants and staff.
Nu commented: “I’m really enjoying living here because all of us tenants and the staff are so close with each other, we’re like one big family. Both my father and mother lived here before me and I can see now why they loved it so much. Swan Gardens has also allowed me to make friends with people from outside communities who come into the home, many of whom were here enjoying our new year’s celebrations.”
With six different dialects spoken in the home, including Cantonese and Hakka, as well as people from outside communities including Bangladeshi and Indian, regularly interacting within Swan Gardens, the development has become a celebration of diversity and a real hub of the multicultural landscape within which it sits.
Karen Dusgate, Chief Executive of FHA Wales commented: “Giving our tenants a place where they can feel safe and secure provides them with the platform to enjoy the latter stages of their lives surrounded by friends.
“We are extremely proud of all the great work that goes on at Swan Gardens and it’s fantastic to see events like the Chinese New Year being celebrated with such excitement and to be able to witness the strong bonds of friendship between so many of our tenants and members of the outside community.”
The staff and tenants at Swan Gardens, one of our panoply of residential developments, were making preparations for their Chinese New Year’s party in the last few weeks with particular excitement building around the ‘Lion Dance’. The dance is a traditional part of Chinese culture in which the performer mimic’s the movement of a lion to bring good luck and fortune for the year ahead.
An ancient Chinese superstition says that anyone who leaves the house on the day of Chinese New Year will have bad luck for the entirety of the year ahead, fortunately for our residents at Swan Garden, with the celebrations they had going on, the outside world wasn’t even given a thought.