My Belsize Park: Head of homecare company reveals his perfect day in the area
- Credit: Archant
Robert Stephenson-Padron, 30, is managing director of Penrose Care in Belsize Lane, Belsize Park. He also lives in Belsize Park. His company provides homecare to the elderly and gained national attention for paying its employees the London Living Wage, one of only four out of more than 1,000 organisations in the London homecare industry to do so.
What brought you to the area?
I moved to the NW3 post code in 2010 first in Swiss Cottage and later to Belsize Park, being attracted to the village feel and close proximity to my closest friends. I’m from a small farm town in California, USA called Gonzales so I love the familiarity the area provides but also its close proximity to Central London. I feel at home in the greater Hampstead area, whereas in the several years when I lived elsewhere in London, I was more of a wanderer. And since my good friend, Dr. Matthew Knight, and I setup Penrose Care in Belsize Village, I expect this will be my home for sometime.
You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to?
If the weather is nice, I’d bring my pet African Grey parrot Coco Lee out with me. She loves going for walks. I’d most likely stop at Merito Coffee in Swiss Cottage Market for the best coffee in London. Then I’d probably have breakfast at Belsize Kitchen or Oliver’s Village Cafe in Belsize Village. Then stroll along to Fenton House and have lunch at Mani’s in Hampstead Village and then spend the afternoon in Hampstead Heath. You’re spoiled for choice for dinner in NW3 so I’d go to The Wells or L’Antica in Hampstead Village, Paradise in South End Green, or the real hidden gem around here, Jing Jun Ge on Finchley Road.
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Is there anything about the area which you would like to see changed or improved?
I would love it if every business that can afford it in NW3 would pay the London Living Wage as a minimum like Penrose Care does.
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As guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?
I’d love to see a series on the largely unrecognised folks who keep our community beautiful and awesome. For instance, when I first moved to Swiss Cottage, I still worked in the City as a healthcare analyst. I started work at 6:30am and ended very late at night so I’d sometimes see the Veolia street cleanser in the morning and sometimes see the TFL maintenance workers coming on duty at night. I used to think to myself, these people are doing such important work but go largely unrecognised. Same goes for the many porters who manage the many tower blocks in NW3. Some of these porters are true everyday heroes, who are the first point of help for a lot of our elderly in NW3. And of course, the home care workers who work tirelessly ensuring the elderly in our community can stay at home rather than being moved to a potentially distant residential home.
A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you and why?
Matthew McConaughey. Seems to me to be a man of principles and a family man who is excellent at his work. I really liked him in Fool’s Gold. Like me an adventurer and like me, when you run into something bad, you need to stop it and change it.
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
Jean Vanier, who founded L’Arche in 1964 for persons with learning disabilities and who I met here in London in May 2015. At the event he said “when we share our lives with those whom society judges unworthy and useless, we are profoundly enriched.” I really, truly believe that.
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?
The greatest sin is cowardice.