Fears grow for elderly 'lifeline'

THE FUTURE of an old folks club, which members describe as their lifeline , is still uncertain. Fears for the Galleon in Boundary Road, Barking, are growing and several elderly visitors have started a petition to prevent its closure. The club was not

THE FUTURE of an old folks' club, which members describe as their "lifeline", is still uncertain.

Fears for the Galleon in Boundary Road, Barking, are growing and several elderly visitors have started a petition to prevent its closure.

The club was not listed as one of the six Active Age centres the council pledged to save after Age Concern announced plans to axe them last year.

These included the Park Centre in Rectory Road, Dagenham, and the Chadwell Heath, Rush Green, Thames View, Wantz Road and the Westbury Road Centres.


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However a council spokesman said they were in "confidential negotiations" to try to make sure Galleon members do not end up without a club come April.

"There are six Active Age centres that the Council took over in the summer 2009," he said.

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"The Galleon Centre is not one of them.

"We are in the midst of confidential negotiations to make sure that people who use the Galleon Centre do not end up without a service after March 31 when existing contracts with Age Concern, who run the centre, come to an end."

It was announced in January that beleaguered charity, Age Concern Barking and Dagenham, would be dumped as the borough's main provider of elderly services by the end of the financial year.

Council leader, Liam Smith, praised the carers and other staff but said he had concerns about the charity's management, saying their relationship with the council was "a one way street".

"We give to them and they don't deliver on their promises," he told the POST.

"Last year we could have left our older residents high and dry and let the older peoples' centres close when Age Concern ran into financial problems.

"But we didn't stand aside. We intervened."

Age Concern's replacement has not yet been appointed but Cllr Smith has given a "cast iron" guarantee that elderly residents will not suffer because of the change over.

Members at the Galleon Centre are hopeful that this will apply to their vital club.

One elderly lady, who did not want to be named, said: "What the leader has said is very encouraging.

"We really cannot live without our centre. It is where we go to meet our friends and get out of the house for a while.

"Without it every person here would be isolated and depressed.

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