More than 60 furious elderly residents have signed a petition protesting against the planned closure of their activity centre.And theirs isn’t the only one:
Members of Active Age, at Park Centre, in Rectory Road, Dagenham say they are angry and distraught, to hear their club, run by Age Concern Barking and Dagenham, may shut for good in three months.
Last week the POST wrote about Age Concern's proposal to end the Active Age service, which is run at seven separate centres across the borough and offers a host of activities, including bowling, dancing and outings.Hmmm, nothing to do with the fact that concentrating on the lucrative ‘frail and elderly’ targets instead nets them even more money from the government?
The charity say they have been hit by the credit crunch and can no longer afford to cover the rent and staff costs, especially, they say, as the council have decreased their subsidies.
And if costs are such an issue, how come their staffing levels (looking just at Barking and Dagenham) are on the increase despite the decrease in centres?
The furious Park Centre members, who sent their petition to the POST, say many elderly people will lose a vital life line if their club shut.But you see, Mrs Thornton, you aren’t worth the money to Age Concern to be kept healthy and active – you are worth far more to them in government targets, and hence subsidies, if you are frail or depressed.
Doris Thornton, 73, said: "It's ever such a happy club and a great place to meet friends and have a laugh. If you are feeling down or lonely, which many elderly people do, it is the perfect place to go as you always feel better afterwards."
So, when Age Concern roll out another of their high profile campaigns, think of the people they are cutting off here, and don’t reach for your wallet.
Members of all the clubs have been told they would need to raise £8000 for each centre, and increase the weekly membership fees.And this seems likely:
Many now hope the council, who funded the entire service until 2002, will step in to help.
Councillor Herbert Collins, Executive Member for Adult Services and Public Health, said: "This came as a real surprise as we have always enjoyed an effective working relationship with Age Concern. A number of residents have told us that they would like to keep this service going and we are now urgently looking at ways in which that can be done.Sadly, with the government planning to hive off more and more of its services to unaccountable and unelected charities, this is going to happen more and more often…
"In these tough times, it is important that the council and its partners tackle issues of this nature together and that there is a joined up approach.