Christ Church Day Centre at risk without more help

Ruthie Lock enjoys a spot of knitting at a day centre session this week
Ruthie Lock enjoys a spot of knitting at a day centre session this week

The future of a day centre that provides an essential service for Stamford’s elderly community could be under threat unless help is secured.

Christ Church Day Centre in Green Lane was set up in the 1970s to give elderly people living on their own something to do during the week.

The service is run by volunteers and has traditionally proved extremely popular, with 50 members and a long waiting list.

But a combination of decreasing funds and a drop in both members and volunteers means the day centre is facing an uncertain future.

Manager Amy Parker is desperate to keep the centre running and has appealed for help.

She said: “Coming here is a massive part of people’s lives.

“But if we don’t secure some funding we are going to see it go down the pan.”

The centre costs about £7,000 a year to run. Members do pay a small fee to attend but most of the centre’s funding comes from outside donors.

Amy added: “We need to get members’ numbers up, we need volunteer cooks and drivers and we are in desperate need of help with funding.”

The centre opens to members every Wednesday. Those who come along are welcomed with tea, coffee and biscuits before sitting down for a chat with friends.

Volunteers cook a meal every week and there is usually some entertainment in the afternoon.

Ruth Ashton, 100, from Victoria Road, has been a member for nearly 30 years and still looks forward to the day centre sessions every week.

She said: “It was suggested I come here for recreation and company. It was difficult at first to get to know anyone but once I settled down I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It’s a happy organisation. It would have a big impact if it wasn’t here because there would be nowhere else to go.”

Doris Davies, 85, of Essex Road, joined the centre about seven years ago as she was feeling lonely at home.

She said: “I didn’t have any expectations. I came with an open mind.

“I found friendship and people to chat to. It’s a very pleasant atmosphere.

“It’s an essential service in Stamford.”

One of the key features of the centre for Doris is the transport offered.

She added: “It’s great to know someone will come and fetch you and drop you off because people can’t always walk here.”

At 68 years old Ruthie Lock, of Peterhouse Close, is one of the centre’s younger members.

She joined five years ago to in search of friendship after her husband died.

Ruthie said: “I’m not the sort of person that can sit in the house all day.

“The centre lets you meet new people, have a laugh, have someone to chat to and have a cup of coffee and a meal.

“Everything is provided and people are always lovely.

“It gives you a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. It would be a great loss to the community if it wasn’t here.

“It would leave a big hole in people’s lives.”

The day centre could not operate without the help of volunteers. Most are on a rota and give up one or two days a month to help out.

Kath Hayden-Dale has been volunteering since the centre started in the 1970s.

She said: “It wouldn’t work without us. We do need more volunteers.

“But we also need more members. There is a lack of publicity. People still don’t know we are here.”

Manager Amy has a number of fundraising ideas. She hopes to involve local businesses in the lunch, perhaps getting them to sponsor a meal each week.

She also wants to recruit cooks and drivers. Each would work on a rota, giving up one or two days each months to shop and prepare lunches, or to pick up and drop off day centre members.

And finally she hopes to spread the word of the centre to attract more members.

Amy said: “I am determined to keep it going.”

If you would like to help with funding or volunteering, or would like to know more about what the day centre offers, call 01780 756212.