Stanhope Hall held its annual Pensioners Christmas Dinner earlier this month with over 40 guests enjoying a special three course feast. With funding for the Christmas Dinner coming from the Stanhope Women’s Group and 12 volunteers being on hand to help make the occasion possible the guests were left in no doubt that they were the centre of attention. Platters of food were served to each table and each guest was waited on by the dedicated team of volunteers. As well as food and entertainment there was additional help from the Rotary Club which helped provide each guest with a Christmas hamper to take home.
Community Worker, Monica Lee said of the occasion, “It’s a hard core of volunteers that are always helping that made this possible and it really was hard work but it was lovely. It was nice to see the pensioners get waited on because if you live on your own you’ve got know body to wait on you. So it’s nice sometimes for someone to cook and bring it to you and you don’t have to move. It’s Christmas and we gave our time as a gift. Can I stress that this couldn’t have happened without the volunteers.”
A Community Asset
The level of value placed on the centre by local residents and the agencies that use it to reach the Highgate community was reflected by the commitment shown by the local police. PC Emma Darroch and PCSO Anita Hodson from the Digbeth Neighbourhood Team were successful in securing £1000 through the police property act. The money they helped raise will be used to support the community lunch scheme which takes place twice a month. Used by many agencies as a means of delivering useful and important information to local residents the first two lunches in January will take place on the 12th and 26th beginning at 12noon.
With cuts to services taking place throughout the city, the uncertain future of a much used and cherished community asset has begun to worry many of Highgate’s most vulnerable residents. When asked what they thought of the possibility of losing the centre one resident commented, “It would be terrible. I get help in all sorts of ways and I’m able to meet up with people. Without this place I would be isolated.” The loss of the centre would be deeply felt throughout the neighbourhood and plays a vital role in helping to sustain a much needed social economy. Friends of the centre hope that the powers that be realise the value for money they get from a relatively small outlay and so make the right decision.