Wiltshire Publications

Town council support to keep White Horse Day Centre running

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WESTBURY Town Council has agreed to give a one-off grant of £3,000 to Westbury’s White Horse Day Centre, whose lunch and social club is seen as a lifeline for older people in the town.  The funds are needed to help plug the gap left by Wiltshire Council.  

Wiltshire Council announced earlier in the year that grants for lunch clubs would be cut in half by 2023, with plans to remove funding completely by 2024 and to replace this with a more ‘modern system’. Wiltshire Council will be withdrawing grants totalling up to £118,000 per year.  

Following the decision, Sue Ezra, chair of the White Horse Day Centre said, “I’m delighted with the news and I can’t thank the town council enough for their generosity! This funding will help drive activities for members, but also help with the rising energy costs, meaning we can keep providing a weekly safe space for people to enjoy. 

“The centre is very much community driven; we are here to help the members enjoy life and the money will be going directly to helping them. I was so disappointed with Wiltshire Council when the news first broke, we really felt forgotten about, but it’s so great to see that Westbury Town Council hasn’t forgotten us!” 

Westbury Town Council approved the grant at the annual town council meeting, held on Monday night, where town councillors discussed the importance of the day centre for senior people in the town.  

During discussions, it was raised that the day centre does have some funds from last year, but the mayor, cllr Sheila Kimmins explained, “The reason the day centre has money left over from last year is due to a lack of events due to Covid – the centre was closed for much of that time as they cater for the elderly and infirm, who would have been a high risk. 

“I have been reliably informed however that the organisers have plans to properly celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and they will be spending money to hire a big TV, a special meal and various events for its members.” 

Cllr Matt Dean added, “The day centre will be dependent on external funding going forward, so anything we can do to help I’m sure will be appreciated. The centre in question is a very bright and vibrant centre that engages with residents in a way that no other group does in the town, so they are in my eyes a worthy body that helps tackle the scourges of loneliness and isolation. I think they are doing a remarkable job. 

“They may face challenges with funding in the future, but I think this grant can help immediately in the short term and I know the centre are trying to ramp up their activities and engage with as many people as possible.” 

When the news of the funding cuts was announced earlier this year, Westbury and Wiltshire cllr Gordon King explained, “The grant that is to be halved this year will disappear completely the following year and I am concerned that the new system in place to apply for funding may not actually be a help, as Area Board funding is primarily intended to enable community groups to see through projects of community value, they are not intended to become dependencies.” 

Members of the White Horse Day Centre spoke to the White Horse News earlier in the year about how the cuts to the centre would affect them. One member said, “We do feel a bit forgotten about to be honest. Wiltshire Council have just overlooked a really vulnerable part of society that doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around. There seems to be so much money at county level, it doesn’t feel like we’re asking for a lot.” 

The Day Centre always welcomes new members and you can join by contacting Sue Ezra on 07816 991 960. The White Horse Day Centre can be found at Grassacres Hall, Eden Vale Road, Westbury BA13 3NZ. The Day Centre runs every Thursday from 10am to 3pm, and for just £9 members enjoy a three-course meal, plenty of conversation with other members and organisers and a range of popular activities such as quizzes, games and bingo.  

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