£1 plea as Havant centre bids to stay afloat after council cuts

PROTEST Manager Jan Gough, Elizabeth Pennycook, Susan Walker, Brandon Taylor, Jackie Bampton, Annette Steadman, Chris Moreton and Pete Walden with a petition to keep the centre open.     Picture: Malcolm Wells (112262-1668)
PROTEST Manager Jan Gough, Elizabeth Pennycook, Susan Walker, Brandon Taylor, Jackie Bampton, Annette Steadman, Chris Moreton and Pete Walden with a petition to keep the centre open. Picture: Malcolm Wells (112262-1668)

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THE head of a national charity is calling on the people of Havant to help save an information centre for the elderly.

After having nearly 75 per cent of its funding cut, the Age Concern Information and Resource Centre, in Market Parade, is in desperate need of a cash boost.

Currently running on its fast-diminishing reserves – which were generated through fundraising – the charity’s director, Chris Perry, is putting out a plea to the town’s residents for help.

He is asking them to donate just £1 as part of the organisation’s Only A Pound (OAP) appeal to help keep the centre afloat.

He said: ‘A lot of people who use the centre really do value it and get a lot out of the sessions and the support we offer, but we can’t keep it going without any income.

‘We are asking people to give what they can, even if it’s only £1, so that we can stay open to support the area and move forward into the future.’

The centre was previously funded by a £92,000 grant from Hampshire County Council but that came to an end on Friday as a result of cutbacks. It will now receive a £25,000 annual grant – and having been turned down for numerous charity grants, the organisation is running out of options.

Jan Gough, the centre’s manager and development officer, said: ‘We really want to stay in Havant – our centre is a lifeline for the people who use it.

‘We benefit everyone in the community because everyone has elderly parents or grandparents who will need us at some point in their life.

‘The thing about the services we provide is that you don’t know you need them until a problem arises – and if we weren’t here then by that stage it would be too late.’

Staff and volunteers provide a drop-in advice service on benefits, housing, health, support for carers, and leisure activities. A solicitor offers a regular consultation with clients, for free legal advice and the Department for Work and Pensions also holds advice workshops.

Pete Walden, chairman of the Havant 50 Plus Forum based at the centre, has collected over 1,000 signatures on a petition against the closure.

He said: ‘It will be a very sad day if this place closes because there’s so much you can get here that you just can’t get anywhere else.’