Supporters campaign to save under-threat Selsdon Centre

The trustees of an old people’s charity in Selsdon that is under threat of closure after Mayor Jason Perry axed their annual council grant have launched a petition appealing for public support.

No help: how someone ‘altered’ the council logo on the Centre’s written appeal

As Inside Croydon revealed last week, the Selsdon Centre for the Retired has been hit by a double-whammy by the council: as well as the complete withdrawal of their annual grant, their landlords have also given them a sharp increase in their rent. Their landlord is the Conservative-controlled Croydon Council.

“Without a significant cash injection over the next few months, the centre will have to close its doors and we will have to institute the voluntary liquidation of the charity in the spring of next year,” Nick Bonneywell, the chair of trustees wrote to supporters earlier this month.

The petition was started on yesterday. It states straightforwardly: “Please sign to ask Croydon Council to reinstate funding so we can keep the Selsdon Centre for the Retired from closing due to withdrawal of funds.”

Croydon Council is making £30million-worth of cuts to services and spending this year, on top of £90million of cuts in the previous two financial years, as it grapples with a £1.3billion debt that was built up over the past decade by Labour and Tory administrations.

As part of this year’s cuts, all grants to voluntary organisations and charities have been axed, affecting around 50 different groups, including the Selsdon Centre for the Retired.

Like many of the organisations around the borough affected by the cuts, the Selsdon Centre provides vital services to the elderly and vulnerable at a fraction of the cost if delivered by a council contractor.

Among the reasons given by supporters for signing the petition, one wrote, “It’s so short-sighted of the council to not help keep the centre open. The activities there will keep the people who attend well, and without it, it will be the council who end up picking up the bill.”

Another wrote, “Centres like this stop isolation for an increasingly elderly population.”

Councillor: Robert Ward is among those who uses the Centre

A third supporter, who says that her late mother used to use the centre, wrote, “This is a much-needed lifeline to many of our elderly residents. Stop taking things away from them.”

In March, when Mayor Perry forced through his council budget, as well as the cuts to the voluntary sector, he also increased Council Tax by 15per cent.

That was not the only thing Perry increased: the Mayor’s pay from the council went up by £2,000 per year, to £84,000 – or more than six times the £13,500 annual grant that used to be paid to the Selsdon Centre for the Retired.

The organisers of the petition are hoping to present as many signatures as possible when Selsdon’s councillors return from the summer break for their first ward surgery.

Councillors from two wards – Selsdon and Addington Village (Joseph Lee and Robert Ward) together with Selsdon Vale and Forestdale (Andy Stranack and Fatima Zaman) – hold their monthly surgery meetings at… the Selsdon Centre for the Retired.

The next scheduled surgery meeting is on Saturday September 2, from 10am, and officials from the under-threat charity are asking all supporters to turn up to lobby Mayor Perry’s Conservative colleagues to see whether “something can be done so we can continue to support the elderly and retired of the community to have a safe space to meet with friends and enjoy some entertainment or have a home-cooked meal”, they say.

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14 Responses to Supporters campaign to save under-threat Selsdon Centre

  1. Diana Pinnell says:

    Now in my early 70s, I am coming across some very unpleasant attitudes towards the retired and elderly.

    How a younger generation came to believe that we are all very wealthy with high incomes who all voted for Brexit and so deserve to be despised I am unsure, but I see evidence of hatred of “boomers” every day in the press, particularly in comments on the BBC news pages.

    I often suggest that such comments (some applauding our upcoming death) be taken down, as would any insulting us for skin colour or sexual orientation, but it never happens.

    Now even Croydon Council resents doing anything for us. Sad times indeed for elderly, bereaved, often handicapped, Council taxpayers separated from families and feeling lonely at home while unused to technology and the internet.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      I totally agree Diana, but I can say that there are many green shoots ariund and many young people not taking that view and are very helpful to those that are vulnerable. They also deplore the manner some of their peers behave and have utter contemp for this boroughs executive.

    • Chris Flynn says:

      I sympathise with your first 3 paragraphs, Diana. But as per Inside Croydon’s comments below, it’s not just retired and elderly who are being targeted by Croydon Council, it’s “every single charity or voluntary sector organisation in the borough”.

      What will be interesting is whether the Selsdon Centre gets a reprieve. If this ‘elderly club’ is saved but not many other ‘youth clubs’ in the borough, I’m sure you could appreciate that could exasperable some of the inter-generational conflict that you’ve touched upon. I think we all want everyone’s needs to be served! If Selsdon Centre do ‘win’ (which I hope they do), it’d be a fantastic show of solidarity to support a corresponding youth club facing the same plight.

      • Expect some kind of voluntary sector fund of a couple of million included in Perry and Jason Cummings’ next council budget, restoring many of the grants to charities etc that were withdrawn in 2023.

        There’s elections coming up in 2024…

    • Deirdre O'Connor says:

      I’m sorry you feel this way Diana.

      To be honest, its similar to how I sometimes used to feel older people viewed Millennials, such as myself, that we were entitled, fragile, and the only reason we couldn’t afford our own homes was because we ate profligate amounts of avocado toast.

      As time has gone on however, I’ve realised that much of this division and difference of the generations is exaggerated and a lot of it is by design.

      A large part of the main stream media, particularly right leaning media, such as the Mail, Express, and sadly yes, even the BBC sometimes, focus on grouping people into different tribes. Its a classic example of divide and conquer in my opinion. The truth is, of course, that we have a massive amount in common and younger people really aren’t that different to the older people in their communities.

      Anyway, coming back to the Retirement Center I, coincidentally, learnt about the threat of closure a few days ago as my Dad was applying to volunteer there. My family is very upset about this; since the disaster that was the Cameron/Osborne government and their assault on this country through austerity, so many services that improve peoples quality of life have been cut.

      I’ve been looking online for ideas on how the center could be saved, looking into everything from fundraising to municipal bonds… I’m hoping to attend the next meeting with my parents and I’ve just sent a letter to Sarah Jones about the closure threat. Perhaps Sainsburys’ could help with a community fund?

  2. This isn’t just about Selsdon. If the Tories get away with shutting down this centre ‘in their own backyard’, it’ll spell curtains for anywhere else in the borough they’re thinking of pulling the plug on without a care for the consequences or any offer of help

    • True, but… Perry’s council has already pulled the plug, on every single charity or voluntary sector organisation in the borough.

      We’ve reported on Selsdon because the charity’s trustees have had the sense to publicise their plight. We are keen to hear from other similar organisations that find themselves in a similar predicament.

      • Ian Kierans says:

        You might find they do not want to rock the boat in the hope that funding might come back in the future or that it damages future funding bids or those in the pipeline.
        These are the reasons mostly given, along with “What’s the point?”

  3. derek thrower says:

    We don’t hear so much of the opinions of Councillor Ward as we used to. A man who once claimed increases in homelessness under his Austerity Government were due to the statistical method used to count them rather than more people actually becoming homeless.

    This is surely his chance to prove himself in his finest moment to save the Selsdon Retirement Centre?

    He will fight them in the golf courses bars, in the new car showrooms, on the finely cut lawns, he shall fight them in the Addington Hills, he will always surrender and disappear from view when anything substantive and meaningful needs to be done.

  4. Helen Lishmund says:

    The Trustees of Contact – Selsdon Churches Neighbourhood Care would like to reassure the residents of Selsdon that they are still operating from their office on the Lower Ground Floor of the Selsdon Community Centre offering practical help, advice, support and information to the local community.
    Contact is a complimentary service to the Selsdon Retirement Centre and we have been looking at ways in which we can support the Centre. However, Contact has also had its funding from Croydon Council withdrawn and will need to draw on reserves whilst we look for further funding or fundraising initiatives.
    Please look at the ‘How Can we help’ tab on our website – – to see the services we are able to offer – thanks to our wonderful band of volunteers.

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