Heinz, who has died at the age of 89, probably got his ability to understand the problems encountered by those less advantaged than himself from the trials he faced when he was a boy. This consisted of the discrimination his family began to face in Berlin after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. He had been born in 1928 in the dieing days of the Weimar Republic in a Wolff family, the members of which considered themselves to be 'German'. In fact, young Heinz had been forced to ask his father, Oswald, a volunteer in the Kaiser's Army in the First World War : “What is a Jew?”
“We really cut it rather fine.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00943r1
In 2000 he led a team of scientists working on a new 'Millennium House' which was developed using a £1·2 million Government grant and was tested as a possible alternative to sheltered housing for elderly people. Heinz explained its bespoke nature : “It will say things such as ‘I wonder if it is not time to get out of bed?’ or ‘Have I taken my medicine yet?’ in their own voices to remind them of what they have to do.”
Heinz began to argue that the real solution to the stresses and humiliations of elderly people demanded not a re-engineering of hardware but of society.
Working with the 'Young Foundation' and 'Age UK,' in 2010 he set up the organisation, in which young people volunteered to help old people and then 'banked' credits against the day they might have need help. It was a beautiful idea but, sadly, a trial on the Isle of Wight, saw the project judged not sustainable. He didn't give up and in 2016, Heinz and his colleague, Brunel’s Dr Gabriella Spinelli, launched , a £1 million government-funded venture which, based on reciprocity and intergenerational care, enabled volunteers to support someone in their community so as to, once again, receive the same later in life. Gabriella commented that : “Give and Take Care was Heinz’s last and ultimate passion."
Despite, by his own admission, not being an expert in health or social care, he worked as hard on it has on any of his previous work. His aim was to bring about a new way of dealing with the social care crisis facing old people in Britain. https://vimeo.com/130859262
Gabriella said :
"Working with Heinz was like being at the centre of an ideas factory; he was fiercely curious and always had new avenues to explore.”