Old enough to…


In the first of a series of articles looking at Age UK RBH’s Allan Burgess Wanstead Activity Centre, manager Jackie Balman outlines a week of workouts and classes and invites anyone over 55 to pop in.

Hello, my name is Jackie Balman and I manage the Allan Burgess Activity Centre in Wanstead for Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering (RBH). The centre is located on the corner of Grove Park and Wanstead High Street. We are open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays for coffee. In this article, I would like to give you some idea of what we offer here at the centre. For Redbridge residents over 55, this place is an absolute must!

The activities we offer for a small charge will help to keep you active both physically and mentally. Mondays are all about exercise: there are two Zumba classes and a chair-based yoga class. Tuesdays offer a wide variety of classes: craft group, hourly computer classes, an art class, bridge club, card and board games and clay modelling as well as more chair yoga and Zumba. Wednesdays are a little quieter with our knitting club, book club (monthly) and hourly computer classes, plus another exercise class! Thursdays offer our long-established art class plus chair-based Yoga. And Fridays offer morning and afternoon chair exercise classes.

We also provide a nutritious lunch, cooked from fresh ingredients on the premises, and snacks and refreshments throughout the day. We offer cooked two-course lunches for the cost of £5 Monday to Thursdays, and a truly wonderful roast dinner on Fridays for £5.50. We can provide vegetarian, fish and other options for people with dietary requirements. The centre offers disability access and fully accessible toilets.

Of course, you don’t have to do an activity or indeed have a lunch to come to the centre; you can just pop in for a cup of tea or coffee, read the papers, socialise and engage with other like-minded service users and volunteers.

You can also just pop in if you have any questions about things that may be causing you concern or that you may be anxious about and don’t know where to look for advice. A very big part of our service is to provide you with information or signpost you on to other organisations within the borough that will help.

For me, personally, the centre offers something extra to all the above. We want everyone who comes in to find caring, safety, warmth, friendship, fun, humour, companionship and a reason to lift your spirits, all enveloped in a welcoming atmosphere. I have seen many service users living with depression, anxiety and loneliness start to turn their lives around just from spending time at the centre. So, I would ask you all to come along and try us out. I look forward to seeing you soon!

The Allan Burgess Activity Centre is located at 2 Grove Park, Wanstead, E11 2DL. For more information about times and available spaces, call 020 8989 6338 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk