Supporters of Hampstead’s Henderson Court fight back

JUST a week after the death knell was sounded for a popular Hampstead day centre for the elderly, plans for the fight-back are already under way.

Camden Council’s cabinet members will vote tonight (Thursday) on plans to cut adult services for all but those with “substantial and critical needs” as part of a battle to axe �80million from their budget.

A report, revealed last week, recommends they should continue with plans to stop funding the much-loved Age UK day centres at Henderson Court in Hampstead and Great Croft in King’s Cross.

But before the final nail was hammered into Henderson Court’s coffin at last Wednesday’s council meeting, plans were already afoot to try to ensure this is not the end for the vital lifeline.

Henderson Court Day Centre provides everything from poetry classes, to yoga and bingo – free, or for a nominal charge – to people over 60. Here they can also get a hot meal and the warmth of companionship.

It costs around �225,000 a year to run, 90 per cent of which used to come from Camden Council but this input will cease in March 2012.

Centre manager Laurie White said all options are being considered to try to keep the centre running – from tapping rich sugar daddies to corporate sponsorship.

Most Read

“It’s not the end,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to be difficult, but I think there are options in the local community and we are thinking about some imaginative ideas. The full year’s funding allows us to regroup and put together the way forward.”

One of the plans is for a community adoption of the centre, where people from the area pull together to help the centre continue to run, and also use the facilities at times when it is currently closed.

“The centre’s future may not just be for older people – it doesn’t open most weekends, so there’s scope for more community use and sharing the facilities we have here,” said Mr White.

There could be funding streams and grants from other government and charitable sources, he said, or they could explore the idea of the Big Society, getting the community to volunteer and sponsor the centre.

While a ‘sugar daddy’ is not out of the question, Mr White said they were looking at more realistic solutions, like football-style corporate sponsorship.

The centre could also get funds from GPs as a preventative service, when they begin commissioning treatments under the government’s healthcare reforms, he added.

Hampstead Town councillor Linda Chung is also launching a campaign to keep the centre open, helped by several local celebrities.

“We have got to make sure that Henderson Court is never going to be under threat again,” said Cllr Chung.

“It’s very, very worrying for the users that it’s under threat and one year of safety is not enough. We can’t count our chickens until everything is certain, but we can work hard and make sure we get there.”