After a 10 year residence, Age UK has confirmed that their White Lion Walk premises, in Banbury, will shut its doors sometime in October.
The decision, however, does not mean the end of Age UK and its services in Banbury but rather a new beginning.
Penny Thewlis, deputy chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire explained: “We think there is a lot of positive opportunity here. It’s a choice we made in an attempt to reach more older people than we reach here.”
“Although this is in the centre of Banbury we know that there are a lot of older people in Banbury and the surrounding rural areas who don’t come anywhere near White Lion Walk. That’s just a fact.”
Banbury is unique within the Age UK Oxfordshire set up in having a centralised focal building and was the template that Age UK saw as the best way to deliver its services. However funding partners such as Cherwell District Council and the NHS wanted a bigger emphasis on outreach programs to reach the most vulnerable and isolated within village communities.
Ms Thewilis said: “Our aim will be not to lose any of the services we are currently achieving but to relocate them around the patch, including rural villages around Banbury, to give people a better chance of accessing them.”
Another benefit of this new focus is that it will free up funds that have been allocated towards the rent and running of the White Lion Walk hub. One important program that had lost funding but will remain operational is Phone Friends, where isolated older people receive a weekly call from one of the volunteers to alleviate the feelings of isolation.
Social activities will also carry on in abundance, in line with the other parts of the county.
Ms Thewilis said: “We would want to put social activities into the communities, which is exactly what we do in other parts of the county. We run a huge amount of singing, knit and knatter sessions, coffee mornings and book clubs.”
Age UK is already reaching other parts of Banbury not served by the White Lion Walk location and regularly hold an IT drop in session at the RVS Cornhill Centre on Castle Street. They also run a singing group from the same location and hold a number of programs in the Grimsbury Community Centre.
Ms Thewilis said of their presence within the community: “We are open to offers. If people would like us in their local community centre once a week or whatever then get in touch.”
She added: “We are changing the face of what we are doing but we will be there.”
To learn more about Age UK in this area visit http://www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire/