Elderly and vulnerable Islington residents are in danger of losing their local community club.
Based at the Peel Centre in South Islington, the Over-55s club caters to over two-hundred members who can come to the hub to do Tai Chi, have massages and get their hair done.
But the Centre is facing drastic cuts to funding, after their chief sponsor of 16 years, independent charity the Cripplegate Foundation, recently pulled out. Islington Council has only guaranteed to finance the club for the next six months, and for only one carer. It’s left many at the group worried for its future.
Currently, the Over-55s group is surviving on just two full-time carers, and volunteers who work in the kitchen and run the classes.
Helen Thomas, a volunteer, said that the members – who are aged 55 to 97 – were “heartbroken” at the prospect of losing the club.
She told City Vibe, “The main [part of the club] is the lunch club, because for a lot of these people the mere thought of cooking for themselves where they’re not as strong as they used to be, they’re relying on that as their one main hot meal a day.”
The first cutbacks happened last year, when the centre could not reinstate a second driver for the minibus. Since, the carers have learnt to drive the vehicle in order to transport members who are infirm.
Thomas also spoke about Lillian, an elderly lady who is effectively immobile:
“Lillian needs two people to assist her in order for her to get anywhere. It’s her only contact with the outside world.
“There’s also Mary. She’s a lovely lady who’s been suffering with some mental health issues. I really worry for people like that, who don’t have family and are really vulnerable.”
The club is currently petitioning the council to increase funding to the centre, and has attracted almost 1,000 supporters. You can sign it here.
Check out City Vibe’s extended interview with Helen Thomas: