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Archway couple Victor and Patricia: ‘Our lifetime in adult foster care’

PUBLISHED: 14:21 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:21 26 July 2017

Victor Jankovsky and Patricia Kavanagh won the supported living/shared lives category in Islington Council's annual Dignity in Care Awards. Picture: Islington Council

Victor Jankovsky and Patricia Kavanagh won the supported living/shared lives category in Islington Council's annual Dignity in Care Awards. Picture: Islington Council

Archant

Victor Jankovsky and Patricia Kavanagh are an extraordinary couple: they have been adult foster carers since 1981. Victor speaks to the Gazette.

Social work is one of those sectors where people aren’t exactly looking for personal glory. It follows that good social workers become society’s unsung heroes. Victor Jankovsky and Patricia Kavanagh are two perfect examples.

Since 1981, this Archway husband and wife have housed Bob, a man with learning difficulties, under the “shared lives” scheme – a fostering service for adults with disabilities.

At Islington Council’s annual Dignity in Care Awards last week, Victor and Patricia, of Junction Road, received some much deserved recognition by winning the supported living category.

Victor, 64, first met Bob in the 1970s, when he took over a hostel for people with mental health problems in Compton Terrace, Islington. Conditions were nightmarish, with 36 people squeezed into a building with a capacity of 11.

Victor managed to reduce the numbers to 15, before moving on. A couple of years later, he got a call from a colleague, saying Bob was without a home.

And, as Victor tells the Gazette: “Apart from a few years living in his own flat, Bob has lived with us since 1981. We feel massive affection towards him. In the past he’s been exploited by other people, such as employers making him work through holiday time, so we’re constantly looking out for him.”

Victor and Patricia’s care for Bob ranges from helping him shave to prompting him to remember tasks on his to-do list.

“Having him around the house is something that comes natural to us,” Victor says. “Bob was ill recently, and we couldn’t contain our tears. It was very emotional. Thankfully, he’s better now.”

The couple also offers respite care for other adults in need. They may stay for a couple of weeks.

Victor just wishes there were more carers around: “Islington only has 13 full-time carers for adults with learning difficulties. That’s a shame, as I think people would be interested in becoming carers, but it’s not attractive in terms of pay – we get £42 a day.”

Not that pay is the be-all and end-all: “We don’t regard this as work, we just see it as helping people. We were asked to go to the ceremony, but we never thought we’d win an award. Then, in the last category, they announced our names. Patricia and I were tearful. To have that recognition felt amazing.”

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