Vulnerable Linslade residents have been caused unnecessary upset, failing to see the funny side after pranksters covered their home’s sign for ‘Chelsea House’ with a new one stating ‘Manchester United House’.
Last Monday (June 24) a staff member discovered the bright red sign above the garage of their premises located on Old Road, but far from causing amusement, residents say they have been left fretting and feeling scared.
Chelsea House is home to vulnerable adults, some of whom have learning disabilities, and the thought of strangers interfering with things on the premises has been a cause for concern.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Whoever it was thought it was a jolly wheeze to change the sign, but it’s been really distressing.
“Some people who live here have learning disabilities and it has impacted on feelings of wellbeing and security.
“I don’t think it was done with malice.
“It could have been a dare or a bet?
“Someone thought this was funny, but hasn’t thought about the impact and ongoing repercussions; people have been rather concerned, quite upset and tearful.”
The resident added: “For example, for some people with a learning disability it has been worrying – ‘What if my family, friends or the postman don’t know this is Chelsea House?’’ - it brings a whole lot of issues and it isn’t funny.
“[Vulnerable] residents have been living here for the last 20 odd years. I don’t know why people don’t know this - perhaps they don’t?”
The housing provider [Paradigm] will be removing the Manchester United sign off the Chelsea House sign, and the resident thinks there may be discussions about tightening security, but without compromising the accessibility of emergency services vehicles.
The resident said: “It’s a whole mushroom cloud of stuff to consider.”
The pranksters had spent some money on their joke, as the sign was new and printed on plastic.
The home is discussing the incident with a local PCSO.
A spokeswoman for Paradigm Housing, said: “We take all reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and are working to minimise any distress caused.
“We will have the sign replaced as quickly as possible.”
A spokeswoman from the learning disability charity, Mencap, which provides care services at the site, said: “Whilst we are extremely relieved that this incident does not seem to have been malicious or targeted at residents, unfortunately all too often, people with a learning disability are victims of abuse and malicious hate crimes.
“We provide outreach support to some of the residents here and we will be supporting them if they are feeling at risk of harm.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: “We understand the impact that anti-social behaviour can have on local communities.
“We would encourage residents to come forward with reports of criminal behaviour to help us build a better intelligence picture and clamp down on any criminality and anti-social behaviour.”