A Stoke Newington charity offering vital services to Hackney's elderly Caribbean community is celebrating the completion of a £250,000 building refurbishment.

Day services manager of Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation (HCEO), Beryl Pusey, said the Covid pandemic had been "quite devastating" for the charity.

She said: "We lost 20 members during this period. Many members have been isolated and locked up at home.

"As restrictions have lifted, members have been looking forward to attending our services again."

HCEO services were back up and running on February 21 and 22 members were welcomed on the centres first day back.

Beryl added: "We are all very pleased with the new ceilings and lights which have made the rooms look much brighter.

“We are very grateful to Hackney Council, who allowed us a rent relief period during the refurbishment. We will continue to provide a much-needed service to our older people in the borough.”

HCEO has served Hackney's older population since 1985, offering a lunch club and organising exercise programmes, community travel, outings and day trips.

The refurbishment and repairs made to its building were made possible due to investment from the council.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville visited the centre to see the completed works, which took place between the summer of 2021 and January 2022.

The repairs and improvements include new lighting, fire safety measures, a new door entry system and rewiring.

Covid meant an adaption of the charity's services as many members isolated from home. The pandemic meant more meal, medicine and shopping deliveries, as well as online support, counselling and advocacy.

The refurbishment has also brought two of the charity's underused rooms back into use. HCEO will sublet the rooms to other community groups.

Mr Glanville said: “HCEO not only offers vital services for vulnerable people in the community, but it is also one of my favourite places in Hackney to visit, so it was great to be back."

Cllr Yvonne Maxwell, mayoral advisor for older people, added: "It was great to see so many back at the Memory Club hosted by HCEO and to hear how much they valued being there.

"This is truly ageing well, to be among friends, enjoying a meal and socialising together."