It was just over a year ago that the Franco family were told they would be moving from their two-bedroom flat in Edward Kennedy House into a three-bedroom apartment, part of the second wave of residents to be given new homes as part of the regeneration of Wornington Green.
After 29 years in the same flat, October 8th would be the day that Jairo and Rubiela Franco, together with their children Jonathan and Tatiana, moved over the road to a top-floor apartment, the four of them living for the first time in a home with enough bedrooms for all of them.
“When we were told about the move, I asked them if we could have the penthouse at the top of the building,” says Tatiana, “and that’s exactly what we’ve got!” For Tatiana, who had lived all her life at the old flat, the move to the new apartment is hugely exciting, but at the same time she has some mixed emotions. “The new place is fantastic, but it’s a little difficult to leave somewhere that’s been home for so long. So I’m a tiny bit sad about moving, but mainly just excited and happy about it.”
Her brother Jonathan, an aspiring film-maker, has similar feelings about the move. The family moved to Wornington Green and into Edward Kennedy House when he was just six months old, and the new apartment will be the first time he has lived somewhere with outdoor space. A balcony extends around three sides of their new home, giving fantastic views across Notting Hill and into central London.
For their mother Rubiela and father Jairo, the new apartment is the latest step in a journey that saw them both move from Columbia 40 years ago to London, where they met and married before settling down in Wornington Green. For them, having choices such as the colour of the curtains and kitchen units was important, the little things that help the new place feel like home. Catalyst has guided them through this process, and a mixture of one-to-one conversations and public meetings means they have been kept in the loop throughout.
On the day Here & Now meets the Franco family, they are having their second look at the new apartment, a couple of weeks after they first visited it and ten days before move-in day. It has already changed a bit since they saw it last, with finishing touches such as the floors and paintwork making it feel much more homely; in fact, all that seems to be missing to make it a home are the furnishings and kitchen appliances.
The family are the first of their friends and neighbours to move into Block 3, and as such they’re expecting lots of visitors eager to see what can be expected when it’s their turn to move. But perhaps the visitor they have been happiest with was Jairo’s sister, who was over from Columbia at the time of their first visit to the new apartment. “It was so great she was able to see the new apartment,” says Rubiela, “and with so much more space than we currently have, it’s so much easier next time she wants to come and visit.”
For the Franco family, the new apartment represents a new chapter in their life, a chapter that they’re embracing with enthusiasm. And after one look at their new apartment and the views from its balcony, it’s easy to see why.