Charity celebrates completion of Council refurbishment
A long standing charity supporting Hackney’s Caribbean community is celebrating the completion of a £250,000 upgrade made possible after investment from Hackney Council.
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville this week visited the Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation (HCEO) in Stoke Newington, to see the finished refurbishment and repair work, which took place between summer 2021 and January 2022. This included rewiring, new lighting, fire prevention measures and a new door entry system.
During this time, the Council agreed to a rent holiday for HCEO, due to loss of income and the cost of hiring alternative delivery spaces. HCEO’s range of services include a lunch club, exercise programmes, community travel, educational visits, outings and day trips for older people, and it has particular experience in assisting people from a Caribbean background and celebrating their history and contribution to Hackney.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the organisation’s operations, with an increase in demand for support from vulnerable members isolating at home, as well as more meal deliveries, support with shopping for everyday essentials, medication and online support, counselling and advocacy.
Refurbishment work has also brought two underused rooms on the first floor of the building back into use, which HCEO plans to sublet to other VCS organisations, generating income to cover running costs and creating more high quality VCS space in Hackney. HCEO has decorated throughout the building and will furnish and equip the first floor rooms, with the wider Council repair work also ensuring the building meets statutory health and safety requirements.
Hackney Caribbean 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. It has always been a real pleasure to attend events here over the years and meet with local residents who always greet me warmly and have such interesting tales to tell. It represents the best of Hackney through the spirit of community, companionship and camaraderie which is always on show.
This vital investment will enable Hackney Caribbean to continue providing vital support to our older residents in a refurbished building for many years to come. This work is only one part of our multi-million pound investment into Hackney’s voluntary sector this year as we build a fairer recovery.
The pandemic has increased the isolation many older people and those living with dementia feel. They have not been able to go out, socialise and be part of their community. 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.
Sadly, the effects of Covid have been quite devastating. We lost over 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.
On 21 February, we were able to go back into our refurbished building. We welcomed 22 members, which was a good turn out on our first day. 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 was founded in 1985 and aims to improve the quality of life for older people in the community.
Mayor Glanville also visited The Old Fire Station in Stoke Newington this week, home to a number of charity and voluntary organisations, including Growing Communities, the Fire Station Community Nursery, Hackney Migrant Centre, Hackney Children’s Theatre, SkatePal and Jamboulay Carnival Arts.
The building is in line for a £800,000 Council investment later this year, which will see significant and essential repairs to the roofs and fabric of this locally listed building and allow The Old Fire Station to continue operating space for these vital charity organisations.