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Grant will help club reinstate vital transport

PUBLISHED: 15:48 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:48 07 October 2019

The Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation's weekly excercise class.

The Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation's weekly excercise class.

Holly Chant

A social club that's been helping Hackney's elderly Caribbean population beat loneliness for more than three decades can bring back its lifeline transport service thanks to a Lottery grant.

The Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation (HCEO) was awarded cash from the National Lottery Community Fund a month ago.

As well as computer literacy to help people fill in forms and stay in touch with family, it will also use the cash to help develop intergenerational and community outreach projects and expand its volunteer programme.

Every morning members at HCEO start their day with a prayer and a song.

They end each day the same way after participating in activities like exercise classes, lunch clubs and tea and coffee mornings.

Many of these activities focus on health and well-being.

Members have been doing this for more than 30 years. Beryl Pusey, HCEO day services manager, told the Gazette why the HCEO is so important for the people who come there.

"For many it's a home from home," she said.

"Most of the elders here come from large families - ones that used to live together.

"Now children have grown up and gone away. Some of them have lost partners so they're left on their own.

"For a lot of them, coming out to the day centre is a saving grace. [Otherwise] they'd be at home watching TV or falling asleep, not having anybody to interact with or socialise with."

She added: "It breaks the cycle of isolation and enables them to interact with peers. They reminisce on their life experiences.

"They all come from various parts of the Caribbean - you hear them sharing their stories and exchanging experiences with each other as well."

Funding for transport has been cut considerably, so recently more frail and less mobile members have found it difficult or even impossible to visit the centre.

The funding awarded will help to provide transport for some members but Beryl said they may still struggle to ensure all service users are able to get to the centre in Stoke Newington.

HCEO's "Ageing-Growing-Engagement" will also benefit from the Lottery funding.

HCEO relies largely on people donating their time. If you're interested in volunteering, visit hceo.org.uk/become-a-volunteer.

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