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Centre given further backing for its work to help older people have fun

ENTHUSIASTIC members of a Bognor Regis centre have welcomed news of more funding.


The Laburnum Centre’s operator, Age UK West Sussex, has been awarded another year of backing.


The support from Arun District Council ensures the popular centre for the over-50s can continue to operate until at least March 31 next year.


Linda Batchelor, 66, of East Preston, has taken her mother, Middleton resident Doreen Johnson, 90, to the centre twice a week for some three years.


She said: “It gives my mother the chance to mix with other people. It’s about getting her out of the flat she is in on her own. There are a lot of things to do here.”


Another member for the past two years, Pam Brackley, 87, of Rose Green, said: “I meet some friends here. I would miss coming here.”


Relative newcomer Trevor ‘Fred’ West, 70, of Barnham, enjoyed himself so much at the centre in the past five months he introduced his neighbours – John Jones (89) and Louise Jones (91) – to its activities.


Mr West said: “It’s a social centre. it’s given me a new lease of life. I enjoy the company and there’s so much to do here.


“A friend works here and I wanted to get back into things and it’s more social than a usual gym because there’s other activities going on.”


Mr Jones said: “We moved down here from South Wales and we used to be out three nights a week there.


“We couldn’t find anywhere to go when we first moved here and this gets us out of where we live and meeting people.”


The activities members can enjoy include a gym, dancing, curling, carpet bowls, reminiscence singing, bingo, hairdressing and chiropody. Walks are a recent addition.


The continued support of £173,773 to Age UK West Sussex from the district council enables its current contract to provide services to be extended into 2019. The charity’s main activity in Bognor


Regis is running the Laburnum Centre in Lyon Street on Arun’s behalf.


Robin Wickham, its group head of community wellbeing, told the council’s cabinet members at last week’s meeting the centre was among a range of activities which Age UK West Sussex provided in the district.


“The day activities provide a range of affordable services and activities for older people,” he said.


“They also draw on the knowledge and experience of Age UK to provide low level social support to enable individuals to have resilience, improved quality of life and good social networks.”


The longer-term future of the centre depends upon a commissioning exercise set to be carried out by West Sussex County Council. The county council has traditionally funded day activities but Arun has long supported them, even though it has no legal need to be involved, because its councillors have seen the benefits of helping residents to live long, active and healthy lives.


Mr Wickham said councillors would be asked if they wanted to include the Laburnum Centre in the commissioning study when its terms were finalised.


Mr Wickham said: “The perceived benefit of commissioning with the county council is to improve the range and reach of opportunities that will enable older people to confidently prepare for later life and be supported to remain well and independent for longer in their own homes for as long as possible.”


The principles behind the commissioning had been designed to ensure the county council would deliver a ‘joined up’ service for older adults.


The results of the study could lead to more money for the Arun district, he said. The area had received less funding than others in the past and this was to be reviewed by the council.
“We do work very well with Age UK West Sussex. They do an excellent job but we are right to leave the door open for county council funding,” Mr Wickham added.
The Laburnum Centre was opened by Arun in 1990. The council transferred the service to Age UK West Sussex in 2006 for ten years.
The original funding was £269,773 a year. This has reduced to the current £173,773 as part of the agreement. Arun agreed last year to a 12-month extension to the contract because of the county council’s intention to draw together services that influence the health and wellbeing of older people.

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