Saved? Confusion reigns as Drovers Day Centre users told it will shut...only for council to put plans on ice
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 March 2016
Users of the Drovers Day Centre in Holloway were devastated this week after being told by its parent charity the centre would shut this year.
"Every day the centre gives me a purpose to go out and meet people"
But Islington Council, which commissions Age UK to run the facility for older people on its behalf, now appears to have put the brakes on the plans.
Town hall chiefs admitted “proposals” had been drawn up by officials without the knowledge of councillors, who told them to hold off any decisions until a review could be carried out.
Sharon Barrett, who visits the North Road centre for exercise, poetry and art classes, said she and others had been told by Age UK on Monday Drovers would close in August.
“I’m a bit younger than some there,” Ms Barrett, 57, told the Gazette, “and I could see that they were absolutely gutted.
"Council officers had developed proposals about day centres in the borough. When councillors became aware of these, we halted these proposals and asked for an immediate review"
“There’s nowhere for them go. How the council can justify building a visitors’ centre [over the road] in Caledonian Park and close this facility for old people just doesn’t compute in my head.”
Ms Barrett, who suffers from arthritis, said she couldn’t imagine life without the centre.
“I would be trapped at home with nothing to do and all I can see is pure depression,” said Ms Barrett, who lives two minutes down the road.
“I was laid off work because of my arthritis. I thought: ‘God, I’m finished.’ Then someone said, ‘Come on over to the Drovers Centre,’ and it was like a lifeline.
“Every day it gives me a purpose to go out and meet people.”
Jocelyn Jaine, 75, who attends art and exercise classes at the centre once a week, told the Gazette: “It would be a nuisance [if it closes] because it’s so near to where I live.
“I’ve made quite a few friends over the eight years I’ve been attending the centre.”
When contacted by the Gazette, Islington Council’s deputy leader and health boss Cllr Janet Burgess said no decision had been taken to close the centre.
“Council officers had developed proposals about day centres in the borough,” she said.
“When councillors became aware of these, we halted these proposals and asked for an immediate review.
“Massive government cuts mean there might be some changes to the services. However, support and care for older people in Islington is very important, and it’s vital we get this right for our residents.”
Andy Murphy, CEO of Age UK Islington told the Gazette: “We are pleased there is now going to be a review of day services.
“Although we do offer many activities in community settings many older people coming to Drovers have a strong attachment to the centre as a regular for group activities and for information and advice on later life in the borough.”