Age UK Bexley to Close Wellbeing Centres
Published on 30 October 2018 04:13 PM
Age UK Bexley as part of its changing approach to the design and delivery of its older people’s services will be closing its three remaining wellbeing centres in Northumberland Heath, Upper Belvedere and Bexleyheath.
The charity regards a more inclusive community development approach as central to reaching more people across the boroughs increasingly diverse and changing communities. With less than 30% of those accessing the charity’s services living in parts of the borough with the highest rates of income deprivation and social isolation, the decision has been taken to deliver more assertive community outreach to broaden the charity’s impact.
The announcement by Tracy Crouch in October of a £1.8 Million fund to tackle the hidden impact of loneliness and social isolation underlined the costs of being alone on the mental wellbeing of older people. Further underlined by evidence from Septembers Age UK report; All the lonely people – Loneliness in later life, which describes the effects of loneliness in terms of confidence, self-worth and social connectedness. The charity’s response to challenging this must be more robust and creative than its work in the past given the way the later life has changed for older people.
The charity recognises that the closure of the centres will represent a substantial loss to those who use them. But with the buildings proving increasingly inflexible as a resource and often losing out against high street competition as a place to meet, eat and greet, a more targeted approach can be delivered elsewhere.
The closures of the Wellbeing Centre however will provide the charity with the opportunity to build on its successful Befriending Café model to reach new audiences. Our partnerships with other organisations and a more flexible approach in how each of the cafes targets and attracts participants, will mean we reach more people in buildings better suited for public use. Each café will provide possibilities for new friendships, skills and access to other Age UK services. Each of the Cafés is led by volunteers its participants to shape the resource, promote its activities and build new membership.
Chief Executive Guy Stevenson said of the planned changes;
“Recent investment from the national lottery will allow us to reach new audiences using buildings better designed and more relatable to the places where people live, shop and socialise. We recognise that the closure of our wellbeing centres will represent a big change, but they were built in a different era for very different kind of service, and are no longer fulfilling their purpose”
The charity recognises that for some this represents both a major change in how they see the charity’s role as well a loss in a much loved service. Bexley though is not the borough it was 30 to 40 years ago when the buildings were put up and opened.
For further information on this or any other subject related to the charity please contact the Charity CEO on the contact methods identified below.
Telephone: 020 8300 0883