The Cost of Closing Community Centres
International Day of Older Persons
Ryecroft Hall is a beautiful Grade II listed building located in Audenshaw Greater Manchester. For 30 years it has been a lifeline for the local community, serving over 600 local members and open to anyone in need. How that 'need' is defined is unique to each member- some are very wealthy patrons of the community but painfully lonely, some are young single parents living off a crippling budget and others are in need of a place to go to feel part of community life. But it is one of many community centres across the UK relied upon as the glue that keeps culturally diverse communities together and, in doing so, tackling one of societies biggest issues today- isolation and loneliness.
A recent survey showed that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK admit they are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel. Common triggers for loneliness are said to be bereavement, retirement and children leaving home. Being shy, living alone or far from family and low income were other commonly cited contributory factors. Even more upsetting is that a recent report from Age UK showed that 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month and 3.9 million older people agree the television is their main form of company.
Community centres can’t change those triggers. They can’t reverse the causes for bereavement, retirement or children leaving home. But they can contribute to helping people move past those life-changing events and look to the future:
‘Our member’s say we are a lifeline for them. We have a big elderly population in the area, many of them suffering from loneliness and isolation. Many of the elderly men that use the centre are widowed or living on their own and can tend to let themselves go mentally and physically. We have a drop in gents club that play bowls, snooker and cards in a club house that really helps to build up their confidence, boost self-esteem and encourage them to feel life has worth again.” Pamela Watkins from Rycroft Hall explains.
It is vital we do what we can to keep these community centres open to the public, despite huge cuts to public funding. Rycroft Hall is one of thousands of community centres we, at In Kind Direct, work with every year. How In Kind Direct helps is to save them large amounts of money on supplies which they can divert into strengthening and expanding their services:
‘We are a large Community Association with members ranging from babies to adults in their 90's, your products have been a massive help to us. Without In Kind Directs help we could not offer the services we do to our local community and families’ Pamela Watkins explained.
One way in which you can help is to spread the word about our service. If you attend activities at a community centre or volunteer with their activities and they don’t know about us, please encourage them to sign up. They can make huge savings on the products they need to keep their premises and services running. If you work for a company that makes or sells consumer products, or know someone who does, please encourage them to look at our website and explore how they can build product giving into their operations.
A little really does go a long way.