Sidcup Age UK wellbeing centre to permanently close days before Christmas
PUBLISHED: 16:26 09 November 2017
The centre poses a "financial and operational challenge" according to Age UK Bexley
A wellbeing centre which can welcomed hundreds of visitors last year will close its doors for the final time days before Christmas.
Volunteers and visitors were informed last week that the service, based at the rear of Age UK’s day centre, will be closing on December 22.
One user has said staff and visitors have been left “very upset” by the closure.
Bob Bedwell, a user of the service since he moved to Sidcup 18 years ago, said: “On some days you can see up to 25 people in there, having breakfast or something to eat.
“Visitors of all ages all sit around tables together and share stories, some days it might not be be as busy, but its an important place for people.
“Some of the volunteers there are very upset too, we just want to know if there is somewhere else for us to go.”
According to Age UK Bexley, around 1,500 people visited the centre last year, with a team of six volunteers running it.
Chief executive Guy Stevenson has defended the move.
He said: “Sidcup wellbeing centre poses a financial and operational challenge for us. Volunteers have been aware of the problem for the past two years.
“The wellbeing centre can only offer limited services, there are cafes on the High Street and the library opposite, both offer the same things as the wellbeing centre.
“My grandparents’ generation retired to completely different expectations of aging and independence in later life. My mother’s generation are now retiring to active engagement with social clubs, local gyms, sports clubs, active holidays abroad and multiple commitments”
“Our wellbeing centres should reflect these changes. They should be dynamic, welcoming and central to the communities that that use them or live near them”
Mr Stevenson assured the neighbouring day centre on Hadlow Road will remain open, while no other centres around the borough are expected to close.
The charity will now spend the coming months preparing changes for its current borough-wide services.
Geraldine Powell, Age UK Bexley chair says: “Closing one centre will give Age UK Bexley the ability to concentrate on making the remaining centres more dynamic and appropriate for the changing communities that will use them. Many retirees today do feel more like 40 than 65, are very independent, and have different requirements.
“I am confident we will succeed in achieving our chief executive’s vision for the future of the centres and that those currently using the centres continue to value them and find the changes positive.”