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Home Dartford News Article
The Oast House Day Centre in Swanscombe and the Northfleet Day Centre in Coldharbour Road, Gravesend, are open five days a week for pensioners to meet their friends, play games and tuck into a cooked dinner.
Both centres are run by the independent charity Age UK North West Kent, which has another two centres in Dartford and Gravesend.
According to the boss Nigel Vian, with the rising costs of running the service, the reduced levels of income to the charity and a drop in attendance over recent years, the centres are no longer financially sustainable.
The charity’s Board of Trustees are speaking to staff and clients about their options and the consultation period ends on December 31.
The proposal is to retain the services, but not the centres, by merging the Northfleet centre with the Fleming Resource Centre in Gravesend and the Swanscombe centre with Meadowside in Dartford. All clients will have the option to attend either branch.
The charity provides door-to-door transport to and from the centres for those who are disabled or who live too far to make their own way in.
But it comes at a cost, and during a Christmas party at the Swanscombe centre, many people said they could not afford to pay and go to another centre.
That includes 90-year-old Rosa Halls who walks to the centre from home and pays £5.50 for each four-and-a-half hour day, between 10am and 2.30pm.
The fee includes a cooked dinner but it would increase to £11.50 per day if she had to pay the transport charge to take her to the Dartford centre.
Mrs Halls said: “It’s terrible, especially for same people here who don’t have family close by. Often a day here is the only time they get to meet anybody else.
“I used to come here every day just for a bit of company, but they put the price up by £2 a day a few years ago and I couldn’t afford it.
“I had to reduce the number of days I could come.
“How are we supposed to afford £57.50 a week from our pensions?
“That’s why attendance has fallen. It’s still the same people, they’re just here less often.”
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