OAP clubs are saved

ELDERLY residents are celebrating after six hugely popular and vital activity centres have been saved from closure. The council is set to take over the management of the entire Active Age service, currently run by Age Concern Barking and Dagenham, it was

ELDERLY residents are celebrating after six hugely popular and vital activity centres have been saved from closure.

The council is set to take over the management of the entire Active Age service, currently run by Age Concern Barking and Dagenham, it was announced last week.

As reported in the POST in May, Active Age members were left angry and distraught after Age Concern threatened to close the clubs, which offer a host of activities for the elderly, including dancing, bingo and bowling.

The charity said they'd been hit by the credit crunch and could no longer afford to cover the rent and staff costs of running the service. They also blamed decreased subsidies from the council.

A number of furious pensioners told the POST they would lose an important lifeline if the clubs disappeared.

Last Thursday Council Leader Liam Smith told members of Active Age at Park Centre, in Rectory Road, Dagenham that Barking and Dagenham council would take over the day to day running of the six centres.

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He said: "The members of the clubs can breathe a sigh of relief. If they want to play bingo, bowls or just go along for a chat and a spot of lunch with friends, they still can."

Cllr Smith added: "I know how much our older residents have contributed to our community and I want them to know that their council will always be there for them when they need us most."

Park Centre regular Lily Martin, 84, said she and her fellow members were "extremely pleased" to hear the news.

"The club means so much to us. It's a wonderful place to meet people and keep active. I don't know what we'd do without it.

She thanked the POST for highlighting their cause, adding: "Without your support the clubs may not have been rescued."

Another member Jean Giovnilli, 78, said: "I'm absolutely thrilled. These clubs keep you young in mind and body. They are vital to the elderly community. I really hope they don't come under threat again."

The council plans to retain the staff who work at the clubs. They will be offered the chance to become council employees as part of the transition.

The Active Age clubs can be found at Chadwell Heath Centre, Park Centre, Rush Green Centre, Thames View Centre, Wantz Centre and the Westbury Centre.

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