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Cash cut threatens Holly Lodge Community Centre that’s a lifeline for elderly
‘Luncheon club closure will leave many trapped in their homes’
Published: September 15, 2011
by DAN CARRIER
A COMMUNITY centre at a Highgate estate is facing a funding cut of £30,000 – prompting users to claim older people who eat there each day will be left stuck in their homes.
Holly Lodge Community Centre runs luncheon clubs, playschemes, education courses and other activities at its base in Makepeace Avenue.
At a meeting to discuss the cuts at the Town Hall last week, 85-year-old June Rose, who uses the luncheon club, said: “The community centre is a lifeline to elderly residents like me.
“In later years I have come to appreciate the very good, affordable meals served up in a welcoming atmosphere at the luncheon club.”
Holly Lodge Residents’ Association secretary Grace Livingstone added that, because the estate is perched on the steepest slope in Camden, the community centre is a vital link for older people who have difficulty getting out and about.
“The loss of the grant will have a devastating effect on the elderly people living on the estate,” she said. “Many live in sheltered accommodation above the centre. As Holly Lodge is on a very steep hill and many elderly residents have limited mobility, attending the luncheon club is the only opportunity they have to see other people.
“If the centre closes, it will leave many of our elderly residents isolated, lonely and trapped in their homes. The centre is the heart of our community.”
It provides internet access and computer training, a laundry, well-used meeting spaces and classes in film-making, life-drawing, yoga, judo and gentle exercise for the over-60s.
The Town Hall has decided to honour a commitment to spend about £200,000 on the estate’s children’s centre. A grant promised by the government has been withdrawn, but the council has stepped in to make sure the work goes ahead.
A council spokeswoman said that in Camden the voluntary sector was expected to lose tens of millions of pounds over the course of this parliament.
“We are not in a position to be able to protect every voluntary sector organisation from the level of cuts being imposed on us from central government,” she added.
“Despite this pressure, we have retained one of the largest dedicated voluntary sector funding pots in London, recognising the important role the voluntary sector plays in community life.
“However, our funding pot is reduced on previous years and we have had to make some very difficult decisions.
Camden will still be investing in 17 community centres to provide service and activities to meet the developing needs of the neighbourhoods they serve.”