A centre for older people in Southwark that has acted as a volunteer food delivery network during the Covid-19 pandemic has been given a £10,000 grant to help pay its rent, writes Kit Heren…
The grant, from the Mayor of London’s community spaces at risk fund, should help Southwark Pensioners Centre stay in its Camberwell Road premises for the next year after it lost much of its income due to lockdown, its director told the News.
The centre, which has been running for 34 years, aims to improve health and wellbeing and reduce loneliness among people aged 50 or older in the borough. In 2019/20, the group worked with about 1,100 people.
Its income before the pandemic came largely from grants, hiring out its event space and other fees. But this model “fell apart” during the pandemic, director Cathy Deplessis said.
When lockdown hit, Deplessis said she and her colleague “became logistics experts” as they began delivering food to about 90 people – at first handing out parcels that they put together themselves from donations, and then working with a local food bank. At the same time they were applying for grants to pay the rent.
The grant from the mayor’s fund will also help the centre keep up its activities, which include social events, art classes, computer sessions and even podiatry.
But with social distancing in place, some of the rooms in the centre can only hold a few people, making it hard to put on activities. Instead art and social sessions have been held at the RCCG House of Praise church nearby.
The centre is due to reopen on April 12 as part of the gradual removal of coronavirus restrictions.
The community spaces at risk fund has provided nearly £200,000 in emergency grants to 23 groups. The upper limit of each grant was £10,000.