Thursday, 24 August 2017

Charity trustees seek user support for move to sustainable premises

WATLINGTON and District Age Concern could be centralised in order to keep the service running.

The branch is considering bringing the Drop-In, at 26b High Street, and the Day Centre (Thursday Club), which meets in the West Room in Old School Place, under one roof.

Oxfordshire County Council will stop its £16,000 a year grant in August and bring in a transition arrangement and the trustees believe that the £4,800 rent and more than £2,000 running costs at the Drop-In make it unaffordable.

The county council has pledged a £4,000 transition grant from September to next March on the condition that a progress report is sent to them by November.

Last month, the trustees decided to investigate ending the lease at 26b High Street and to approach the parish council and Soha, which manages Old School Place.

A report to the parish council said: “At present, there is little enthusiasm from the clients and volunteers at the Drop-In for change.

“However, if a move to the West Room does not take place Watlington and District Age Concern would find it impossible to continue funding both its venues.

“The two centres are currently only used by between 20 to 30 people out of a population of at least 800 over-60s. Watlington and District Age Concern would like the current users to embrace the move to the West Room.

“With the possibility of a grand opening this could be an opportunity to drum up some new interest and enthusiasm to encourage more people to use the facilities.”

New trustee Nicky Smallbone, who is also a parish councillor, told a meeting of the council on Tuesday night: “Financially it doesn’t add up. When you think of Age Concern I don’t think of very nice things particularly and I think it needs upgrading.”

Age Concern chairman Tony Williamson added: “It’s quite important if they move from the Drop-In to here that they feel they have their own place. If we give it a facelift and people know it’s a nice place to come, they’ll come.”

Councillors agreed to  ask Soha if it would create a door into the West Room — preferably with a porch — and to discuss with Soha the possible use of its Old School Place office for chiropody and for Age Concern’s administrative use, sharing it with Soha’s occasional use.

They also agreed to Age Concern using the West Room five mornings a week for Drop-In, one or two days for meals, and at least one afternoon a week for Scrabble.

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